/tech home / projects / personal 'blog / about


ARCHIVE: Similar problems

Sun. Jun 5th 2005, 11:43pm:

I love it when I have a technical problem and find someone else with the same problem and their thoughts on it. As his bio states, "Derek Sivers is the founder, president, and sole programmer behind CD Baby, independent music distribution... he started CD Baby in 1998 knowing nothing but basic HTML, and self-taught himself just enough PHP and SQL to get by as the site grew." I wouldn't know the sales of CD Baby but I wouldn't be surprised if it's in millions of dollars already. Derek wrote and setup pretty much all of the code that runs his business.

Just like the imminent chaos that I will soon face at my work, he says he's already having problems in growing his business because the software he wrote lacks some key features, one of which is flexible shipping. How do you calculate the shipping cost on a single order with multiple items that could be delivered to multiple places from multiple warehouses in multiple places over multiple different modes of transport? If you only have one warehouse in a single place then shipping is pretty easy and I already use it on a couple of my sites. However, what if I want to make things efficient? What if I have two warehouses (LA and NY) and the customer is in LA? Of course, it's best to have the goods shipped from LA. But what if two of the items are in stock in LA but the third is only available in NY at the moment? Should I ship that from NY to LA and add the shipping cost or should my system wait till LA has that good? Or maybe I should ask the buyer what he/she wants to do - wait or pay more? And wait, I didn't even mention the whole science of calculating the correct sales taxes!

Of course, I know that I'm not the only one who has to face these questions but in a way, it is kinda refreshing to realize that I'm not the only one without an appropriate answer at the moment. Anyways, from what he's been saying about PostgreSQL & Ruby On Rails, it looks quite quite promising. I'm currently stuck on PHP & MySQL, both of which limit me in innumerable ways. While PGSQL and RoR are quite different from their more popular counterparts MySQL and PHP, I don't think they're necessarily more diffcult. Also I've been hearing a lot about RoR supporting Ajax (God I hate that phrase) inherently and that might result in more fluid web applications. And top of all of this, I still need to create some sort of front-end in VB.Net. Many reasons for that too, but primarily for integration with hardware devices. It's hard to make a scanner talk to a web page :)