Last Friday (1/21/2011) Panstoria launched an updated website. The update coincided with the launch of their scrapbooking software, Artisan. During the development of this update, we added all of the necessary features to allow the sale of their scrapbooking software online. The base of the site is built using ExpressionEngine and the cart and check-out system are built using cartthrob. We have built a few different sites using cartthrob and have found it to be a nice solution for custom e-commerce solutions. This particular implementation was interesting since it had to integrate into a custom user and activation code back-end written in .net.
To accomplish this we had to build an interface layer that would allow PHP to communicate via web services to the .net back-end. The interface layer was written in PHP and uses cURL to make the calls via HTTP. Once the interface layer was complete, several custom ExpressionEngine plug-ins were developed to allow the back-end calls to be integrated into ExpressionEngine templates. These plug-ins handle authentication, registration, and getting the appropriate activation keys for the software.
I am really happy with the way this project turned out. It was a very cool integration between an off-the-shelf cart system and a custom back-end.