Getting to know and love Microsoft Commerce Server
Over the past few months I’ve being working on quite a large web development project. This project involves the redevelopment and expansion of one of the largest e-commerce systems in Australia and the world. One of the base technologies chosen at the start was Microsoft Commerce Server 2007. This worried a few of us, but we were assured it was nothing like SharePoint 😉 so we were settled.
The team has grown to be quite big and well established. We now have 5 MVPs on board including some absolute superstars Damian Edwards, Tatham Oddie, Paul Glavich, Corneliu Tusnea and Luke Drumm. As a result we have a great grasp of ASP.NET and a great ability of delivering high quality software. The only thing our team was always missing was the Commerce Server knowledge…
At the beginning of the project, we were quite shocked by the amount of effort required to set up and develop with the framework. It was taking us days to get our environments to a functional state. Any changes to the underlying schema were taking at least a day of development then another day of roll-out. However, after a month or two, the sharp shooting pain that used to hit us whenever we needed to do something CS related subsided into a dull acceptance. It was quite sudden and really surprising how quickly a few of us had come to know and revere the beast that is Commerce Server.
Fairly soon after we started development we realised that not many people in Australia (or the planet) have used and/or blogged about their experiences with CS. Even Microsoft Australia were quite limited in their ability to support us because they had no one with any project experience. This was quite a blow because whenever we experienced a problem we didn’t have anyone to turn to for support.
It wasn’t until we had a consultant from Cactus Commerce – a consulting company based in Canada that specialises in e-commerce systems and CS – that we began to take hold of the beast. The two weeks we dealt with them helped us leap ahead and get to a point where we are no longer afraid…
We are now at a point where CS schema modifications take an hour to develop and roll out and Pipeline Components take minutes to put together. So, over the coming weeks I’ll be trying to share as much of the basic knowledge I’ve gained as possible. I’ll be writing about everything from connecting to CS in-proc versus web services to making schema modifications easily and writing Pipeline Components the right way in the hope that someone will get some benefit out of it.