2010-07-27

TYPO3 4.2 E-Commerce


Although I am working full time on TYPO3 Phoenix and FLOW3, this book on TYPO3 4.2 E-Commerce caught my interest anyway.

First of all, because I maintain an e-commerce website for a relative of mine and second because the author's names – Edgars Karlsons and Inese Liberte – seemed to sound... latvian. Latvia, that's where my wife comes from and where I have friends and family. So during this year's vacation in Latvia I read the TYPO3 4.2 E-Commerce book.

The book is a good one, although it repeats some of the mistakes most technical books make. When I buy a book on building an e-commerce website and the book says knowledge of TYPO3, PHP and TypoScript is required - why do I get instructions on how to install and set up TYPO3 and extensions to get a basic website running? That is basic knowledge I would simply expect the reader to have and use the pages for more relevant information instead. Hiding update instructions in the templating chapter also is a rather awkward choice.

After the already mentioned 50 pages on setup and templating, the book covers various e-commerce extensions available in very short form before explaining how to import and maintain products. PayPal is discussed as payment platform, but sadly other payment forms are discussed only very briefly. A chapter on using frontend users and groups to bind customers and enable special pricing and promotions follows. Like in other places, you will need to read the relevant extension documentation in addition to what the book provides.

The information on navigation and search inside the shop is sadly not deep enough at all. Building menus with TypoScript needs far more explanation and is in my opinion required knowledge before reading the book, while hints on setting up sitemaps for search engines and providing search options for the shop should have gotten far more attention. Order processing and payment (yes, again) are discussed next and deal specifically with tt_shop requirements.

The next chapter deals with the TYPO3 backend and is not only misplaced (should have followed after the setup instructions at the beginning) but again rather a waste of pages - if knowledge of TYPO3 is required anyway... The last two chapters give a glimpse of what the book could have been. They deal with the topics of SEO and marketing your shop in general and show that the authors know a great deal besides the purely technical stuff.

All in all the authors know what they are talking about, and the book covers more than just how to set up one extension, but has a more general approach. That makes it useful also for those who do not use tt_shop (used as example in the book) but another extension. If I wanted to hire someone in Latvia to build an online shop, the authors would be among the ones to consider, and that shines through in the book.

Sadly the editorial process failed to deliver what the content would have deserved. Information that belongs together is partly scattered throughout the book, some things should have been scrapped in favor of more depth on other topics and the english is sometimes funny sometimes awkward to read. It seems the publisher doesn't do any editing in that regard - really sad. The content would have deserved better...

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