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Next question: how the heck am I going to find a shopping cart system that can handle this? I frequqently use products like Xcart, but that just isn't going to cut it for this site. I do not want to build my own cart system (nor will the client want to pay for the time to do so) Anyone have any suggestions for where to start? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
red or blue -> blue widget
large or small -> small blue widget (code: product01)
red or blue -> red widget
large or small -> large red widget (code: product02)
Not too hard to set up. I would agree that a small Flash animation window may be a way to show your visitors their product as they move along through the steps.
Yea, that would be great, but there are way too many options...10 widgets, each with hundreds of different options. Plus, how would you change the image on the fly without having to photograph each possible variation? I need an application that will build it on the fly from one 'template' image.
For dynamic images, you could use a server side Java servelet to generate the picture based on the parameters you pass. The servelet can then place the image in a folder and refresh the page with it.
I have done somthing similar in the past using Java 2D API and worked out great. We had a "preview item" button which updated the page with the latest image created by the servelet.
Herath was on the right track. It's only a purchasable (sp?) item when it's finish. Only at that point do you need to integrate with a shopping cart (where there will be an individual product code for every possible permutation).
Hold the build parameters in a simple session or cookie as the build takes place. When it's done, poll your database for the product code using the build parameters and chuck one of these items in the cart.
If you're allowing the user to go back and edit a build, fire the product code at the database and populate the session with the returned build parameters.
Two systems: An all bells and whistles shopping cart, and a very simple session system. The two only interact when you have a finished product.
Set up a number of select boxes, radio boxes or check boxes [Product attributes in osC, there's likely to be similar functioning items in every other decent cart system about], and create a number of 'layers' (divs, or suchlike) that hold images for each different choice. With a little [lot?] of nifty coding, it should be possible to get the layers to show or hide based upon the selected choice. You could source the JS to an external file, and throw the images and stuff at the very end of the document, and voila, you have a customizable basket that ought to be search engine friendly, with any luck.