*Notice* HMTL catalog considered for Extinction

I have been mostly the lone voice lobbying for expansion and refinement of the html catalog generation functions. I don’t believe I’m the only one who has purchased who has done so at least in large part due to the inclusion of this function. I have been told that “We’re thinking about total replacement of HTML catalog with mod_rewrite functionality in next versions.” by Zeke in the bug reporting forum.

I’m asking for others who agree with my belief that this function is valuable but have remained silent to speak up now if this is important to you. I may be delusional … maybe others don’t see value here, but without more voices it appears inevitable that this function will be discarded soon. I have 3 days left on my 30 days … I’m honestly torn as to whether to stick around or once again go seeking a solution that accommodates what I thought CS-Cart was capable of doing. I like it here, I don’t want to give up on CS-Cart, but if this function goes away I’ll either have to move on, or pay large sums as an individual to have it custom built and updated with new releases, or give up the cause all together.

Please speak up … it may be for naught and wasted breath if the CS-team have already decided this is not worth doing, but I think they should know if there are more than one crazed soul who valued this feature.

For the sake of argument, I’ll tell you why I feel as I do. I realize everything online is going dynamic, and that’s as it should be for many reasons. Most think the reasons for use of html extensions is they somehow improve their spiderability, or are given some preference by search engines over php driven pages. The spiderability is honestly not true IMO, there are 1000’s of dynamic sites out there that get spidered just fine, and the page structures and content don’t change just because you change the file name. From what I’ve read, there appears to be some small evidence that simple html file names are given a little more notice initially by search engines, however as I understand it the only real problem with php file names is if they contain too many parameters, or session ID’s.

But those are not the reason I prefer html pages … these are.

Downtime - The biggest obstacle for me is my concern that if something breaks, I’m helpless to fix it myself. With straight html, the chance of my pages breaking is almost nill. If an upgrade of the software has a bug, I have problems with installation, etc. … my static pages are still being served … no downtime. Even if the cart is temporarily unavailable, my customers aren’t served a 404 page or similar error. With a dynamic site, if you break it the site can be down for an indeterminate time until you can resolve the error. I can’t tell you how many times I run across a down for maintenance notice on a site I want to shop at. To my knowledge, my static site has never been down more than 15 minutes at a time due to server issues, never due to broken code.

Loadtimes - Many of my customers are grandmothers, and it’s my guess that most aren’t necessarily on the cutting edge of technology - I know many use dial-up. I realize the real concern is server loads w/ dynamic sites, which probably isn’t an issue for me yet, but I’m concerned about doing anything that might reduce my customer’s experience and my gut says dynamic ‘could’ for some. Every load of a dynamic page puts much greater load on your server than a simple static file would. I also can’t tell you how many times I go to a site to shop and the pages just hang on load, often due to high server demands. With shared hosting you don’t know how many sites you are sharing bandwidth with, and a dynamic site is vulnerable to this phenomenon. The more you can do to reduce server loads the better. In e-commerce, if you lose the customer on first visit they are likely to never return … you’ve lost the sale and future sales for good.

Time-outs & errors - I’m sure these are a matter of proper configuration, but I find it intolerable as a customer to find a page or session has expired in the time it took me to pee or follow a link elsewhere, or when I hit the back button. I often have 10 browser windows open at a time as I read and discover things I wish to look at, and often have multiple stores open as I comparison shop. Never a problem w/ static sites.

File Naming - though as I said above it’s not really an issue w/ the spiders from what I understand, it’s an issue with me as a customer, with me directing someone to a page, or with someone choosing to link to my site. I like simple domain / product naming conventions because they are easily recognizable and make sense to the customer and it’s easy to know you have the whole address when linking. Yes, mod_rewrite can help resolve this, but at the cost of significant server load increases. Also, I believe mod_rewrite is disabled by default for windows servers. I do understand it is possible to get a windows server to support this, but that option may not be offered by many hosts. That fact alone makes the idea of relying strictly on mod_rewrite an unfortunate decision for a cart provider.

I should also point out to those who are not aware, unless mod_rewrite is very carefully implemented, it presents significant potential for duplicate content to be indexed by the search engines because it does not actually change file names just what is displayed in the browser address bar, and definitely does not change links in your site navigation. Depending on the algorithm used it is possible for some pages to be indexed by their actual php file names by the search engines, and again by following a link from another site that linked to the rewritten file name. Link popularity and PR could potentially be split between the two versions of the page as well … though I understand the attraction, I don’t trust it personally.

I’d welcome anyone to dispel my beliefs as myths, but I think they are well reasoned and valid. I have the sinking feeling that my cause is already lost based on Zeke’s statement quoted in the first post … but I’d like to hear some discussion if anyone else out there agrees, or even if you think I’m just being irrational and should join the 21st century.

I like the HTML Catalog and I need it, I must have missed the post about a possible extinction, I would’nt be too happy about that. I like the HTML Catalog because the pages load 3X’s faster over a mod_rewrite. In addition I’ve been lobbying for HTML Generation of Manufacturer’s and Pages ect…Besides mod_rewright does’nt even work on my server…plus the HTML Catalog is alot more important then mod_rewrite links…