Looking for PHP scripts? Beware!

Author: Gayle

There are numerous php scripts available online; they range from free to very expensive, with not much difference in the quality of any of them. It really is NOT a case of “you get what you pay for”.

I have spent some months putting together a new site and, consequently, have downloaded and tried many of the php scripts that are on offer across the WWW. In particular, I have been looking at auction scripts and have made a few interesting discoveries. It was my latest experience that prompted me to write this article.

But firstly, let me talk about some of the previous experiences. I discovered that many of the auction scripts out there are ioncube encoded, making it very difficult (if not impossible) to customise the script to suit your own site. The worst of it is that many of these script providers do not mention on their main product page that the script is encoded. Some do, and I applaud them for that; others at least allow a try-before-you-buy download which enables you to discover that the script is encoded; but others take you by surprise AFTER you have already paid for the script.

There was one called Tendersystem which I downloaded and attempted to install. I have a number of protective layers set into both my computer and my site server. As I started to run through the installation my browser stopped and gave the message that the script was attempting a “cross-site communication”. Now, I admit that I do not really understand what that means, but it did give me the impression that the script was “calling home”. Personally, I do not like the feeling that my site was going to be in constant contact with the tendersystem site. I emailed them for an explanation but never received a reply, so I took that as meaning the answer was yes, it would be in constant contact.

I then came across the Kaqoo script. The idea of Kaqoo is very interesting. They allow you to run the script for free; the information comes from their site and you are connected to many other auctions around the world. Now, I realise this contradicts what I said earlier about not liking to be in constant contact with other sites, but at least this one freely admits that you are, and you know exactly what is happening. The concept is that your auction is never empty, so it gives the impression of a very busy auction site by showing the items available on every other Kaqoo auction around the world. Kaqoo get paid for the items and pay you a commission on anything sold via your site; interesting and worth a try. At least I thought so before attempting to customise the script to suit my site. Of course, it's encoded and gets many of its features directly from Kaqoo, and I found the script full of Google ads that cannot be changed. You cannot change their position to look better on your site. You cannot even shrink or enlarge the pages and tables in which they are displayed. You cannot replace them with Google ads of your own. When I contacted Kaqoo about them they replied “we have to make our income somewhere”. Well, I thought they would be making enough by keeping the major percentage of sales. I realised that I would be doing a lot of work to make a lot of money for them, and very little for myself. Needless to say, I removed the script.

Nevertheless, I did discover a very good script which was, in fact, encoded but it also contained easily customisable templates. It was not a free script; I actually chose to purchase it for USD$49. I liked its features so I decided the price was worth it. As with any of the “priced” scripts on the market, they also offered extra help at extra cost. However, the only help I wanted was a tiny touch-up to the cosmetics which could not be done via the customisable templates or the CSS. I contacted the author and he was very approachable and extremely helpful. Because it was such a small change, he obliged me for no extra cost and forwarded the updates. I recommend him to anybody, www.softbizsolutions.com/ although I do notice that his prices have gone up since I purchased the script.

However (and this is a big however), I ended up not using that script. I do not regret the purchase because the script and its features gave me many ideas. Plus, my experiences with the author were pleasant and helpful; and he deserves payment for his time. If anyone requires help with php scripts, please look him up.

Instead, I returned to a script I had already tried previously. The WeBid script. I had gone away from the script because it was missing certain features that I particularly wanted. But on revisiting the forum I discovered the hard-working editors there had released an update. I have so much respect for them. They put in so much time and effort, yet offer the script free of charge. Admittedly, they started with the script that was originally offered free from phpauction.net, but they edited, added and improved; and spent months on perfecting the script. They do not claim that the origins were their own; but they do deserve much credit for the work they have put in. www.webidsupport.com/forums/

Finally, I decided it would be interesting to include a reverse auction. Again, these range in price out there and, admittedly, I chose one of the cheaper ones. I immediately noticed there was one little feature missing; the checkage function to ensure users are over the age of 18 years. I wrote to the author and asked the simple question “if I insert a checkage will it upset the rest of the script”. I merely wanted a yes or no answer. I could easily have just tried it to see, but I really thought the author would know immediately. The reply I received shocked me. It was quite a rude “we don’t offer free support; pay me another $200 and I will help you”. It was very different to the reply I had received from softbizsolutions, which did say extra support for extra cost but it also gave a very helpful and polite concession that if it was merely cosmetic there would be no charge. So, as you can see, it is not the fact that they wish to charge for their time. Of course they are entitled to be paid for their time. It was the attitude that was offensive.

So, I ignored the email and worked on the function myself. However, I then came across another problem. I found that the script did not work when attempting to register a new auction. Once again I wrote to the author. Once again I received the same rude reply, though this time it was worse. He pointed out that his “Terms and Conditions state....”; I could not remember seeing his terms and conditions (and I always look for them on any site). I returned to his site and searched through. There is absolutely no mention of terms and conditions on most of his pages; I finally found a tiny link at the bottom of just one page: the products page. The page is quite long and, if you are interested in the very top product, you do not think to scroll to the bottom. I then read his terms; they consist of just two lines that are as curt as his email replies.

By this time, I was quite angry. I wrote to him again and pointed out that, regardless of terms and conditions, if you offer something for sale the product must at least match the description; that you cannot offer a faulty product then expect to be paid to fix it. His reply was basically “just pay the $200 and I will help you.” I had also pointed out to him that he had used someone else’s free script and made a few adaptations for which he was charging, which of course is quite all right so long as the adaptations function properly. He denied using another script; though anyone with any basic knowledge of html, php and css can see where the old codes have been left in even though they are no longer in use; plus the backend of the script still maintains the same icons and basic features of the original script from phpauction.net and it is difficult to believe they were merely copied because he liked the look of them. Moreover, the checkage function (which was the beginnings of my dealings) is still written into parts of the script, but the main call on the function is missing. There is nothing wrong in using another script and adapting it; but there is a lot wrong in not admitting that it has been done and thereby claiming full credit.

After a thorough check through the script and the operations of the backend, I discovered that it was actually the fact that some of those old features had been left in that was causing the script to not function as it should. There was a feature in the settings whereby the authentication can insist on requesting a password before the submission of any new auction. I like things to be water-tight and secure so I chose to set this feature. Then, when I attempted to add a new auction, it merely gave the message that the password was incorrect and there was absolutely nowhere to insert a correct password. Call me slow if you like, but, yes, it took me a while to link the two things; I thought the setting was to prevent unauthorised submissions of auctions. That setting was a “left-over” from when the script was used for standard auctions for which it had originally been written whereby registered users can submit their own items for sale; it is not applicable to a reverse auction where only admin can submit auctions. The script does actually function so long as you do not attempt to use that feature.

To cut a long story short, the author (or perhaps I should say ‘the adapter') was insisting that I pay him an extra $200 to have him tell me that I cannot use a function which he had forgotten to remove from the old script and/or forgotten to include an override or at least somewhere for the password to actually be inserted. He insisted that the problem was because I had installed the script myself instead of paying him to do so; and that I must have made a mistake. He was rude, insulting, and extremely unhelpful, which in turn made me angry. I was tempted to insist on my money back but in the end I decided that, instead, I will use the script and adapt it to my own needs. I will not include the usual “Powered by” link at the bottom. I generally like to give credit to those who have put in the work but in this case I cannot recommend him as I would hate to think I have been instrumental in causing anyone else to fall for what I believe is his scam for extra money. It would have taken him far less time to say “yes/no” and “don’t use that feature” than it did for him to reply to the numerous emails I sent him, yet he insists that his time is worth money.

By all means, go ahead and purchase the Bpower Unique Low Bid Auction script, but if you have any problems with it do not bother contacting them; find a forum somewhere instead, there is always someone willing to help. Or, if you need more help than that and are willing to pay a little extra, send the script to softbizsolutions.com and ask them to do it for you; they will treat you a lot better.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/software-articles/looking-for-php-scripts-beware-1292706.html

About the Author

I am no-one famous or great; but I do like a little common decency.