Duncan McClean

Simple Commerce has launched!

15th August 2020

A few weeks ago today I finally launched the first version of Simple Commerce.

If you've not been following me for very long, Simple Commerce is the e-commerce addon I've been building for Statamic.

If I remember correctly, I started prototyping what Simple Commerce could look like in late November/early December last year (when it was in private alpha) and started working on it properly in January/February time. I even rebuilt the addon about a gazillion times but more about that in a minute.

The story...

I've been in and around the Statamic community for the past few years. In that time, there's been plenty of people who have asked for ways to handle e-commerce in Statamic.

Previously in v1, Jason (who's now one of the Statamic gents) built Bison and in v2, someone built Statamify which has now been archived. If you really wanted to use Statamic for your e-commerce, you could also use Snipcart but it's a separate service.

In November/December of last year, when I was thinking about what I could build to test out addon development in Statamic 3, I tried to think about what I could build that's been widely requested, the first thing that came to mind was e-commerce.

I talked to a few people about it, mainly Erin, who tried to persuade me against it but I went ahead and did it anyway 😂

And so I began.....

Initially I tried building my own version of Statamic's collections system to handle products, orders etc. I inherited some traits and did some other stuff that I didn't really understand. I can't remember how well I got that version working (if I ever did). If you're really interested, feel free to dig through the commit history.

After a couple weeks doing that I think I moved onto using Eloquent instead. It wasn't completely convinced it was a great option but I went with it anyway. My main reasoning behind the switch was "its easier to do relationship stuff and query things. it makes it faster for development". Technically, all of that can be done with Statamic's facades but that's not something I understood how it worked 6 months ago.

The eloquent driven version actually worked quite well. Once it was fairly stable I have access to a few people in the Statamic community so they could give it a try and see the progress I was making. I also refactored & rebuilt the eloquent version many, many times. That's the part that probably took the longest in the whole project.

At the start of June, I decided to set a launch date for getting the Eloquent version out of the door after being in development for the longest time. I set the date for the end of the month. I had everything planned perfectly but then I thought about something....

If someone new is looking at Statamic and thinks "Oh nice, a content management system with no database. That's pretty rad. I wonder if I can build an e-commerce site with it. Looks at Simple Commerce, goes to the install guide. what the chickens?? why do I need a database for a flat-file CMS".

I kept thinking about that for a few days, in the end, I came to a conclusion: I need to rebuilt this with flat files!!

So there I went.... I spent the best part of a month, spending pretty much all of my free time rebuilding this e-commerce addon back into flat-files. But this time instead of rebuilding the collections system, I actually just used the Collections system.

I wanted to make Simple Commerce feel as native to Statamic as possible. Eloquent wasn't native, but collections/entries are. Using pre-built views and controllers wasn't native but just letting users use Statamic Antlers the way they're used to is.

It feels so much better and lightweight now that everything's done 'the Statamic way'.

A few week back I officially launched it but I didn't really make a big deal out of it. I only really announced it on Discord so hopefully this blog post is a better announcement!

There's already a few people trying it out and building sites with it, I really can't wait to see how it grows. If you're interested - feel free to give it a whirl! I've got some plans for it over the next few months but I'm keeping them secret for now 👀