A Solid Foundation for eCommerce
Our tools - collectively called "ZFoundation Commerce Suite" - are the manifestation of providing enterprise class solutions for our clients for over 14 years. Our clients are usually looking for unique ways of selling their goods or solving business problems. This typically translates to a custom solution. While we provide custom solutions, we do so with production proven building blocks - ZFoundation components. The philosophy behind our tools is simple:
- We expect our clients to have unique requests.
- We expect change.
- While "black box" or "template" solutions offer a cheap and quick approach today, inevitably successful businesses grow out of those kinds of solutions.
- Tools should be a foundation for building upward, not a ceiling on what is possible.
Presentation layer independence
From day one, we made the decision to architect the ZFoundation tools to be independent of the presentation layer of a website. Meaning how your site looks and acts is not going to be constrained by the tools. For someone selling commodity widgets, an "ecommerce in a box" solution would probably function fine and frankly, be cheaper than our approach. But our clients are typically second or third generation efforts where a unique presentation is important.
Part of our client's success is in being very creative in their Web efforts. Some of them have complex backend requirements as well, and very rarely are integration needs between any two clients the same. All of this results in custom solutions
In software, "customization" sounds like something fragile and expensive to maintain. But we have spent considerable time creating tools and processes that allow us to create custom solutions as something routine. We were very careful to architect our tools so that customizations can be created as modules that are plugged into the core code, without having to change the core. We embrace the need for customization instead of fighting it.
Upgrades and Enhancements
ZaneRay spends about 30% of our budget on R&D, mostly in the form of keeping our tools up-to-date, and in adding new capabilities to them. Changes are driven by advancements in Internet technology and techniques, but they are mostly driven by customer needs.
As we are constantly upgrading our core code, we are also very careful to do so in a way that is backward compatible with customizations or old code. We even have mechanisms built into our software so when a major change is effected - usually to a database structure - the software upgrades itself. As a rule, we don't have to version our software. Upgrades to our latest and greatest ZFoundation code is typically as routine (and done as often as) as the ongoing enhancements we make to your site, as we usually don't need to stage major version upgrades.
We have had a couple major upgrades to ZFoundation that involved a migration. As having all our clients on the latest code is mutually beneficial, we have always made that migration as financially attractive as possible.
We develop almost exclusively in Java. The word "Java" refers specifically to a computer language, but these days "Java" is used more often to refer to the whole development environment it encompasses.
Java has few if any limitations for serious Ecommerce development. The environment is scalable, meaning that as traffic to your site increases, the environment allows you to easily add more servers to handle the load. Integration access via Java is almost always included in third party Software. Java is a mature language, meaning that's it has been around long enough that it's been molded into something that works in the real world. Java solutions are database and operating system independent, meaning that the decision of what machinery to run your site on is not a factor
Java is also an "object oriented" language. This has some technical meanings, but one of its real benefits is that it allows us to create custom functionality by the process of "extension", which is another way of saying that we can efficiently create special functionality while preserving our core software code. So you aren't stuck to a particular version of the core.
Look at many (if not most) major, serious ecommerce efforts and they'll be running on Java.Downside to Java? It requires a more experienced programmer to work with; it's hard to be a "hack" and do well in Java. But you probably don't want a hack working on your site in any language.