Take Heart CRE Users… X-Cart is Infinitely Worse

Gosh, I feel like a snippy critic for this one. I’d worry about it except that everything I’m going to say is absolutely true, and something that people investigating cart options oughta know.

A client contacted me to do some work on X-Cart. She paid for the software – no Open Source freebies here. We had trouble accessing the support forums in the first place, due to ownership issues. Once we did, I have become increasingly frustrated with this cart. I’ll outline a few of the reasons why I hope to never have to work on it again – in fact, any other new clients who have it will be turned down flat.

1. Documentation is weak. For a paid cart, that isn’t acceptable. It covers only the most basic stuff, and does not outline many necessary bits of info.

2. You are required to put the version number in the signature line of your forum posts to get help. The version number is hard to find – their instructions do not pertain to new versions. Once you find it, you have to go back and edit your forum profile just to put that sig line in. I don’t like being hassled to get help.

3. You have to edit a LANGUAGE FILE just to change the home page contents! Please be shocked here! This is inconvenient, awkward, and completely unacceptable for cart functions within the last five years! There are hundreds of language files, and you can’t even find the right one without explicit instructions.

4. The template is a NIGHTMARE. In excess of 100 files each one containing one little bit of the page, one snippet of the boxes, etc. The only templating I’ve seen that is worse, is Magento. I don’t mind a header, footer, and main template file. But when every single cell is chopped up on the page, and when the contents of those cells are all in different files from the cell code, it becomes an impossible task to try to edit any part of the design without a reference guide to do it. This level of complexity is not only unnecessary, it is the equivalent of rubbing two sticks together to get light.

5. Nothing is simple or logical. It is all convoluted and cumbersome. Backend functions take more steps than necessary, and there are no intuitive tasks. Forget trying to learn this one without both reading the manual, and spending a lot of time on the forums looking up stuff that should be intuitive, but is not.

6. Updating is also inconvenient. This makes site sustainability more costly.

7. Support is paid only. That wouldn’t be a problem, except they have two classes of tickets – HotRush, and Normal. If you have a problem that is urgent, like your site being down, the only way you can get timely help is with a HotRush ticket. They cost twice as much! Currently their support turnaround time on normal tickets is TWO DAYS! This isn’t just unacceptable, it is grossly irresponsible.

8. It has no outstanding features, no advantage that would make any of this justifiable. It doesn’t do anything that other carts don’t do, it doesn’t have ONE THING that is more convenient to do, or more functional. It isn’t a matter of the disadvantages outweighing the advantages – there simply ARE no advantages that would make this cart even a consideration for anyone who needs a functional cart.

I’d expect better than this from Open Source. In a commercial product, it is completely ridiculous. I cannot for the life of me figure out why someone would PAY MONEY for lousy software accompanied by bad support. That is available free, anywhere. Good software with decent forum support is available all over the place.

This doesn’t just go onto my “I don’t like it” list, it goes onto my “Never again” list. Sad, because at one time they had some potential. They obviously have not kept up with the rest of the industry.

Note: The opinions expressed in this post are the perceptions of the writer, and should not be interpreted or quoted as fact without corroborrating evidence.

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