If you're setting up your site to handle online sales, you could do worse than to use osCommerce. This article, the second of three parts, explains how to configure the software to get you up and running. It is excerpted from Building Online Stores with osCommerce: Professional Edition, written by David Mercer (PACKT, 2005; ISBN: 1904811140).
Basic configuration of osCommerce, continued (Page 1 of 4 )
Learning how to set the default values for the Images section can be a bit of a laugh. The best way to do it is to change the settings and view the results in the catalog section. Of course, ensure that you remember your default settings so that you can get things back to normal once you are done. The following screenshot shows the modified values in the Images section:
In this case, the Small Image Width has been reduced from 100 to 10, the Heading Image Width has been increased from 57 to 570, and the Subcategory Image Width has been reduced from 100 to 20. To see the effect of these changes we will go to our catalog section and view a couple of pages. The following screenshot shows the Categories page under these modifications:
Oh dear, that's not really what we want, but it has helped to demonstrate which setting does what. The image of the Blade Runner title on the right-hand side of the screen has been squashed to only ten pixels in width-so we know how the Small Image Width affects the site. The Heading Image Width influences the image shown at the top of the page in line with the Categories title, and this image now takes up half the screen's width, which is obviously not appropriate. Finally the most obvious of the settings, the Subcategory Image Width, has been squashed to only 20 pixels, which is also not very tidy.
Playing around like this has raised some interesting questions. What size are your site's images? In other words, will they look nice with the default settings? Notice that the heading image shown in the previous screenshot is all deformed and unclear because of the stretching it has undergone. Well, it's possible that if you have made or obtained images that are of different dimensions than the default ones, then you might suffer the same fate unless you think closely about what Image values you set.
It is possible to leave out the Width (or Height)setting for your images entirely. This will force osCommerce to size your images according to their remaining specified Height (or Width) property. Doing this should avoid any horizontal or vertical distortion as osCommerce will render the image appropriately - for this to work, the Calculate Image Size option must be set to True.
Of course, you may also decide, for example, to not have heading images at all, in which case you can leave the settings as the default ones because you will remove the images from your pages altogether when you customize your site.
Finally, it is recommended that you leave the Image Required setting as true while you are building the site, because this will allow you to spot if anything is amiss with your images-for example, if osCommerce cannot find an image, this will show up as a broken link on the screen. You can test this by modifying the name of an image in the images folder of your catalog directory and then viewing (in your browser) a page that should contain that image.