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Custom Data Solutions Requests

As a solutions and customizations development company, we often receive requests for customizations that require more data than would be available within our client’s target platform. BigCommerce, our eCommerce platform of choice, is a SaaS solution, in which most product data is only available within specific pre-defined panels or shortcodes. The templating system is robust, but not all information is available in shortcode form, or on all panels. We’ve found is that some of those client requests were simply impossible due to these restrictions of information, or data, availability.

Due to the high number of requests for complex customizations, ScriptiLabs set out to resolve these limitations and provide an alternative solution. Of course, there would be challenges associated with a solution like this, but we were committed to developing a valid solution to these design challenges.

We created a few test implementations to see if there was a reliable process to make BigCommerce store data more widely available for use in customization. After our testing, we determined that for consistent, stable performance and high availability of data, we would need to utilize:

  • Third party hosting to operate PHP Scripts connecting to the BigCommerce API
  • PHP Scripts to generate a readily available cache of the store data; as real-time relays of API calls would involve much overhead to perform properly.
  • JavaScript to retrieve the cached store data and render it on store pages.

From this effort, we created the Scriptilabs JSON Cache for BigCommerce.

Our Solutions

Our extensive work with the BigCommerce API has allowed us to implement most API components as PHP Objects with associated functions to translate the API data into these objects. We expanded the existing functions to generate a full API cache, and also to re-structure the data for easier programmatic access when being served as JSONP data for JavaScript.

Ultimately, we decided to store our data in JSON format, which would allow for efficient transmittal, and it is natively supported by JavaScript. With this API caching relay, we can now use JavaScript to dynamically load almost any data needed for a product, category, brand, option or option-set. This has allowed for the implementation of Product Filtering by Custom Fields and Options, as well as implementation of SKU Grids and SKU Lists for purchasing several SKUs of a configurable product within a single page and using a single submit action.

The API caching system has also been augmented with product-image caching components. When product data is cached, the respective product images are downloaded in the highest available resolution (the only type available on the API), then scaled to resolutions already in-use on the site and stored locally on the caching server. The image path-data is interpolated into the existing API data for product images in order for the cached images to be easily accessible from our server and usable by the JavaScript used.

Continue Reading More About Our API Solutions

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