Interview with the Contributor of the Downloadable Products Feature

Q: Joscha, please tell us about yourself and your company.
A: I’m 29 years old and I live in Germany. I started my company 12 years ago. In the beginning, I started specialising in TYPO3 and website. Later, I delved into OXID eShop and the ecommerce business.

Nowadays, I mostly work on projects based on OXID eShop. is well known in the community and I’m proud that we are one of the driving forces behind OXID eShop’s Open Source efforts. We are a team of four at the moment; we also work with two designers and a few freelancers depending on the amount of work.

Q: Why did you decide to contribute the feature for downloading digital products to the OXID eShop core?
A: We needed that feature for a project (our own shop), and we were not happy with the existing options. So we decided to program that feature to match our own requirements. At the same time, we don’t see ourselves as a company that writes modules on a commercial basis. Our goal is to offer solutions to our costumers and modules are “by-products”, as 37signals calls them. So we contributed the feature to the community because we thought that it made sense in the OXID eShop core. Of course, we would be happy to help new customers that need a similar solution as well.

Q: Will you keep enhancing this feature? What additional functionality is in the pipeline?
A: It depends. Our contribution covers the features which are helpful for the entire community and make sense in the core system. But special requirements, that are only useful to a single customer, are not suitable in a generic system. That said, if there is generic functionality that we build for one of our customers, we might contribute that and enhance the feature. As Roland Fesenmayer (CEO, OXID eSales AG) said, we see OXID eShop as a “ecommerce operating system” on which users can build great shops.

Q: How long have you been using OXID eShop and what do you like most about it?
A: We have been using OXID eShop since it went Open Source in 2008. We had our kick-off meeting at the first “OXID Commons” conference where we met our first client. Since 2010, has been an OXID-certified solution partner and we also undertake projects with the OXID PE and EE editions.

I also started my own shop based on OXID eShop and gained a lot of experiences as a shop owner. I’m a big fan of the aquatic world and I have a big aquarium at home. There is a huge community and, of course, a market for it, so I was selling plankton and other products to breed fish. It might sound a bit strange, but everybody has a secret passion, right?

What i like most is about OXID eShop is its flexibility: It can be used for small shops as well as highly scalable huge portals with high traffic.

Q: What is your overall impression of the OXID eShop community?
A: The OXID eShop open source community offers fantastic, free support. And it is made up of not only developers but also shop owners who give advice and support. I really hope that it will keep growing.

Q: Is Open Source an important aspect for your customers in eCommerce and why so?
A: I love the idea of Open Source but I must say that, for shop owners, what’s even more important than Open Source are enterprise-grade solutions. Most of them want access to a company that they can pay in return for a guarantee, as OXID eSales does with the Professional and Enterprise Edition. But Open Source is also essential to share knowledge and find better solutions and this allows everyone, including the shop owners, to benefit in the long run.

Q: Any tips and tricks for aspiring contributors on how to best approach/work with the OXID eSales dev team?
A: Think twice about your solution. Does the solution you have conceived make sense for everyone? Is it generic enough? Talk to others, especially the OXID guys. There was very good feedback from the OXID development and management team. They educated us about things we hadn’t thought about because they didn’t affect our solution. They are in general very kind and have lots of good ideas, so don’t hesitate to contact them!

Q: What is your impression of the collaboration with the OXID eSales dev team?
A: We had a few areas of friction. For example, worked on a patch and sent it to the OXID eSales team, who then did their part. It didn’t feel like a joint development effort, so I think we could do it better next time. As it was one of our first contributions, it was fine, but some enhancements will be needed for the longer term, on both sides.Together, I’m sure we can build the best e-commerce software around!

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