In the course of my IT career, I’ve built many e-commerce solutions, from a simple shopping cart to a complex e-commerce solution for a nationally-known retailer. Over the years, I’ve evaluated a number of “out-of-the-box” solutions, and in terms of features, flexibility, and price, the best solution I’ve seen overall is nopCommerce. The fact that it’s an open-source, .Net-based (C#/MSSQL) solution, has a huge supporting community, as well as great plugin support are all factors in why it’s my e-commerce solution of choice. Today, we’ll talk about how to get started with this great e-commerce solution for your clients.
The nopCommerce group provides downloads of current and previous versions at http://www.nopcommerce.com/downloads.aspx – due to the fact that I usually create customized solutions for my customers, I opt for the download labeled “(with source code)”. Download the .zip file to your preferred location, and extract it. As of this writing, the latest version is nopCommerce 2.5, so your extracted folder will be named ‘nopCommerce_2.50_Source’.
We’re going on the premise that you’re using the Visual Studio 2010 IDE, and an instance of MS SQL Server (Express is fine), so copy the whole folder to a location under Visual Studio 2010\Projects. Double-click on the file ‘NopCommerce.sln” to open the project in Visual Studio. (Tip: if you’re starting a project for a specific client, change the name of the folder/*.sln to reflect the client name, in order to keep customized projects organized).
You should be able to see that the Nop.Web project is highlighted – to confirm, right-click and select “Set as StartUp Project”. Now press the “F5” key, to start your first build. A new browser instance will be launched, and you’ll see the setup screen for NopCommerce. This is where you’ll name your SQL Server database, add your default admin login, etc. NopCommerce will then proceed through an automated sequence, which will end in a default configuration of the NopCommerce store for you to explore.
We’ll leave off here today; in our next installment, we’ll cover customization of your nopCommerce instance using themes, plugins and widgets.