Professional Commerce Server 2000

Overview

This book is for experienced developers familiar with implementing web solutions on the Windows 2000 platform who wish to utilize the rich, flexible, and robust environment afforded by Commerce Server 2000. You will find this book invaluable, whether you are new to the Microsoft Enterprise Servers or a seasoned Site Server 3.0 CE developer looking to upgrade to Commerce Server 2000.

Technical Requirements:

A full discussion of both the hardware...

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Overview

This book is for experienced developers familiar with implementing web solutions on the Windows 2000 platform who wish to utilize the rich, flexible, and robust environment afforded by Commerce Server 2000. You will find this book invaluable, whether you are new to the Microsoft Enterprise Servers or a seasoned Site Server 3.0 CE developer looking to upgrade to Commerce Server 2000.

Technical Requirements:

A full discussion of both the hardware and software required to run all of the example code in this book is provided in Chapter 1, but as a rough guide you should have a minimum of:

  • At least a Pentium II, 450 MHz computer with 128 MB of RAM (256 preferred) and 3 GB of hard disk space
  • Windows 2000
  • Internet Explorer 5.5
  • IIS
  • SQL Server 2000
  • Commerce Server 2000

This book explores the most important areas of the Commerce Server 2000 product, taking you through from product installation, and configuring and customizing the ready-made e-commerce solution sites, to low-level application of the component framework, integration with third party components and external systems, and site migration from Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781861004642
  • Publisher: Wrox Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2001
  • Series: Professional Ser.
  • Pages: 800
  • Product dimensions: 7.32 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 2.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Huckaby is President of InterKnowlogy, a software and network engineering firm dedicated to Enterprise, eBusiness, B2C/B2B consulting, application software design and development on the Internet, extranet, and intranet.

As lead author, this is Tim's 7th time with involvements on book projects with Wrox. You can also find Tim's work in magazine columns and regularly published features in the Windows 2000 Magazine family of publications. As Technical Architect and Software Development Lead, Tim has over 20 years of industry experience with companies large and small all over the world and worked on the Site Server 3.0 product team for Microsoft.

Tim sits on the Microsoft Commerce Partner Advisory Council and was recently awarded with "Microsoft Regional Director of the Year" for his work in the Developer Community. MSDN Regional Directors are independent 3rd party advocates of Microsoft technologies whose mission it is to inform, educate and congregate the Windows development community.

You can also expect to see Tim delivering keynotes and technical sessions at developer conferences all over the world. Tim was awarded by Microsoft Corporation for the highest rated Keynote presentations of all the Developer Days held around the world in 1998 and in 1999 and took 3rd in 2000. Tim has done presentations on Microsoft Technologies at developer events like Microsoft Tech Ed, Dev Days, and the PDC, along with Wrox's Devcons and others all over the world getting top 10% ratings in all.

Tim is one of the very first Microsoft Certified Professionals, attaining his first certifications in 1991.

Andreas Eide has a Master of Science degree from the Norwegian Institute of Technology in Trondheim. He has been working as a developer and software architect for the past 7 years. He is now principal consultant for Objectware. Objectware is a Norwegian consulting company focusing on component based development using Microsoft and Java based technologies. Andreas is a MCSD, MCT and is also MSDN Regional Director for Microsoft in Norway.

Scott Hanselman is a Principal Consultant at STEP Technology, Inc. in Portland, Oregon. He's also the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) Regional Director for the Portland area. Scott considers himself language agnostic, with skills in C, C++, Visual Basic and Java. He has been developing on the Internet since 1990, and has been involved in designing a number of successful applications spanning the Web, Windows, Unix, as well as various portable devices. Scott was a key member of the development teams that built 800.com and Gear.com. Scott is a specialist in user interface design and human-computer interaction. He authored a successful PalmOS product for diabetics called GlucoPilot, which has won awards for excellence in user interface design. Scott attempts to apply his irrepressible wit as a frequent speaker preaching the gospel of XML and good design at industry conferences. You can contact Scott at scott@hanselman.com.

Sophie McQueen is a Principle Consultant at Sage Information Consultants Inc. Her role at Sage is to design and lead the implementation of web based solutions. Sophie has implemented Site Server applications for several clients including Panasonic Canada Inc. and the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). She has been a reviewer on many Wrox books including Beginning Site Server. She can be reached at smcqueen@sageconsultants.com.

Mark Harrison is a Principal Applications Engineer at Microsoft UK and is responsible for helping customers / partners understand Microsoft Internet technologies and to build business critical Web solutions. Mark is also the author of several books on Web Security, ASP and Internet Explorer - all previously written under the pseudonym of Richard Harrison.

Tim McCarthy is a Principal Engineer at InterKnowlogy (www.InterKnowlogy.com), where he architects and builds highly scalable n-tier web applications utilizing the latest Microsoft technologies. He is a regular speaker at Microsoft Developer Days. Tim is also an instructor at the University of California, San Diego, where he teaches Microsoft developer courses.

Before Karsten Strobaek turned to IT and became an MCSD and MCDBA he got a Master in Economics and Econometrics. He is currently employed as Chief Solution Developer at Intellix A/S. Here he works with design and development of web based decision support systems that utilizes neural network technology. His tools of choice include Visual C++, Visual Basic and Double Espressos.

Scott Hanselman is a Principal Consultant at STEP Technology, Inc. in Portland, Oregon. He's also the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) Regional Director for the Portland area. Scott considers himself language agnostic, with skills in C, C++, Visual Basic and Java. He has been developing on the Internet since 1990, and has been involved in designing a number of successful applications spanning the Web, Windows, Unix, as well as various portable devices. Scott was a key member of the development teams that built 800.com and Gear.com. Scott is a specialist in user interface design and human-computer interaction. He authored a successful PalmOS product for diabetics called GlucoPilot, which has won awards for excellence in user interface design. Scott attempts to apply his irrepressible wit as a frequent speaker preaching the gospel of XML and good design at industry conferences. You can contact Scott at scott@hanselman.com.

Christopher George's extensive experience in the technology industry has focused on network and systems architecture and implementation in support of Internet businesses. He is currently the Director of Network Services for InterKnowlogy, an engineering firm which designs, develops and implements end-to-end Internet, extranet, intranet and e-commerce solutions. He is tasked with building the network and systems consulting arm of the business as well as supporting ASP hosting of internally developed web-enabled applications.

Prior to joining InterKnowlogy, Mr. George was the Director of Network and Systems for The BigStore.com. His most notable accomplishments have included the architecting and implementation of reliable global network infrastructures and development of TheBigStore.com and its international affiliates. He was heavily involved in supporting investor relations for TheBigStore.com, and is responsible for managing the global network and systems support teams. His experience in architecting and implementing network and systems solutions in diverse environments has made him an expert in the creation of stable computing environments necessary for 24/7 technology companies.

Prior to the formation of DevConcepts, Mr. George was responsible for the daily operation of the network and systems infrastructure of Shopping.com, making Shopping.com a winner of PC Magazine's 1999 Top 100 Web Sites. Prior to Shopping.com, he focused on network design and architecture for Millennium Systems. While studying Computer Engineering at California State University, Long Beach, he was responsible for systems integration and implementation for the university. Mr. George has served as primary network and systems architect for many public and private organizations, including several California municipal and county governments.

Gail Fitzmaurice is a Senior Program Manager at InterKnowlogy. She has more than 12 years of software analysis and design experience, including the development of mobile and wireless applications. You can reach her at gailf@interknowlogy.com.

Robin Sanner has 16 years experience in a variety of Computer related fields including: Networking, System Management, OS Tuning and Programming on VMS, UNIX and NT. Currently employed by InterKnowlogy, LLC as a Senior Software Engineer doing development for ADSI and Windows 2000 services. Severn of those years were as a Senior Technical Lead in a large support organization.

Lee Whitney is a Senior Consultant at Micro Endeavors, Inc. Lee has spent the last 8 years designing and managing the development of distributed applications utilizing a variety of technologies. Most recently, he has focused on implementing e-commerce solutions for MEI's dot-com clients. Lee is co-author of Visual Basic 6 Application Programming from Wrox Publishing and speaks on Visual Basic, e-commerce and Project Management methodologies at various technical conferences, most recently SQL Connections in Orlando in Spring of 2001.

Joey Smith, MCSE, MCP +I, MCT is currently the Chief Technology Officer for The INJOY Group based in Atlanta GA. Before coming to INJOY; a company dedicated to developing leadership excellence, Joey was the visionary, lead developer and project manager for the project that won the "1999 Microsoft Project of the Year" in the Best Knowledge Management Solution category. As a previous e-business consultant and Internet Evangelist for one of Microsoft's premier Provider Partners, Joey has had the opportunity to envision and build state-of-the-art web applications for fortune top 500 companies including Coca Cola Enterprises and Cox Communications to name a few. Joey's greatest joy comes from challenging business processes and really digging deep into new Microsoft Technologies to see how unions can be made between current business models and future business opportunities through the enablement of technology. Joey's philosophy is comprised of three things, 1) solve business problems, 2) enable business with technology, and 3) deliver technology solutions with excellence. Joey's favorite pastime is visioneering and getting dirty with server and internet technologies. You can contact Joey at joey@injoy.com. For more information on building leadership skills and seeing Commerce Server in action, go to http://www.INJOY.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 12: Third-Party Solutions for Payment, Tax & Shipping

One of the great benefits of using Commerce Server 2000 is that it enables us to integrate third party components into our pipeline architecture with relative ease. By now, we should be quite familiar with the plug-in functionality of components for Commerce Server. In this chapter, we will discuss extending the pipeline architecture for additional payment processing, tax calculation, and shipping calculation functionality through the use of third party components, in conjunction functionality exposed by a service provider.

Why do we need to extend the pipeline for payment, tax and shipping functionality? The out of the box components were never designed for production use in these areas. The Default Payment Component in Commerce Server only sets values that are needed by some of the other components to complete transactions. It never connects to a banking institution; therefore a live authorization does not take place. Tax components are similar. These components calculate tax rates based on values set, but they do not take tax calculation to the appropriate level of 'precision' that is needed by most businesses. The same goes for shipping calculation. The cost of shipping can vary between carriers, weight, the type of products shipped, the size of the packaging and the shipping method used; therefore the components included with Commerce Server only scratch the surface. These may work fine in certain instances, but when calculation need to be very precise, and may be quite complex, it is best to look into third party components and services.

We will look at a few of the companies that provide these services, and see how to incorporate their components into a Commerce Server 2000 solution site. We will see the ease of setting up this type of functionality with Commerce Server, and will gain an understanding of how these components and services differ from each other. By the end of this chapter, we should have a good understanding of how to implement each one of the components. We will discuss the following services:

  • Credit Card Payment – considering CyberSource and CyberCash solutions
  • Tax Calculation – considering CyberSource and ClearCommerce solutions
  • Shipping Calculation – considering the ClearCommerce solution
There is also relevant information in Appendix D to aid you in your selection of a service provider and your implementation of the component/service with Commerce Server 2000.

Credit Card Payment Solutions

You've created an e-commerce site with Commerce Server 2000, and you have a large product catalog that you're sure will attract a lot of customers. Now there's just one catch: right now, you don't have any way to take their money. Commerce Server 2000 ships with a default 'out of the box' payment component that really does nothing more than fill a place in the pipeline until you choose to add a more functional component. The default payment component writes to the order._payment_auth_code name/value pair so that the required payment component will not fail. This component doesn't actually implement any credit card pre-authorization; there is no true billing of a customer's credit card, and no type of fraud screening taking place. The reason this component lacks this functionality is because there are so many different credit card providers available with many different rates, connections, banks and services. It would be impossible for Microsoft to supply a component to fit everyone's needs; therefore they provide us with a starting point and enable us to expand and move forward choosing exactly what you need from other service providers. If you want to process live transactions you must select a payment service that handles these things for you.

However, before we look at the implementation of services and components, it's important to understand just how these services work, the different types of services, and what we need to have already in place.

How Payment Processing Solutions Work

There are three types of payment processing solutions available today. There are many other solutions that can be customized to be integrated with existing payment solutions, but we will focus on those readily available for Commerce Server 2000.
  • Real-time payment via the Internet
  • Real-time/batched payment with in-house systems
  • Redirection based payment solutions
We will discuss each of these individually, enabling you to determine which is best for your own situation.
Real-Time Payment Via the Internet
Okay, let's imagine this scenario: a customer is sitting at their computer with a full shopping cart, looking at the total cost of their order. They click the Purchase button after entering their credit card information, and a few seconds later get a message on the screen informing them that the specified credit card is over its limit.

This is an example of real time credit verification – so what exactly happened? Let's break it down a little:

  1. First, the user clicked the Purchase button, sending credit card information to the e-commerce web server.
  2. The e-commerce web server then opened a connection across the Internet to a payment service provider and sent the customer's credit card information (and, very probably, their billing address information as well).
  3. The payment service provider (which is connected to the banking network) sent that information on to the bank where the e-commerce business holds its merchant account.
  4. The bank ran a pre-authorization on the card number, along with an AVS (Address Verification Service) check, to make sure the billing address given matched that of the card being used.
  5. Once this was complete, the banking processor sent back 'card over its limit' information to the payment service. This in turn handed the information back to the e-commerce site's web server, which used it to generate a message for display on the customer's browser.
To expand on why someone would use this type of service, we'll cover some of the advantages:
  • Ease of implementation.
  • Low maintenance, because the payment system is a service and another company's responsibility.
  • Low cost....
...However, there are some disadvantages to this type of system:
  • In most cases there must be a constant Internet connection between the payment provider and the web server. If this connection fails, it will result in lost sales. Some providers do offer a dial up link or leased line into their external systems to alleviate that possibility.
  • We must deal with latency over the Internet service provider's server and the service's network – response times can increase and decrease depending on congestion levels; ultimately, we have no control over the speed of the connections. Remember, this is also a service – check into the uptimes of the services, because if they go down, so does your website if you do not have another form of payment or telephone ordering system in place.
Real-time/Batched Payment with In-house Systems
There are some types of systems that that do not send information via the Internet to process payments. Some of the third party solutions available are sold as packages that handle all of the processing in-house. With these systems, the communication is much faster because the system is running on the same network as the web server.

What might be another benefit to a system that runs in-house? The payment processors that transmit data on the Internet usually charge a fee per transaction. For a large enterprise that processes many transactions it will be more cost effective to pay a larger initial fee and bring the payment processing inside the company. Also, with in-house systems, it is potentially easier to tie in customer service call centers, phone operators who take orders, the e-commerce site, and point of purchase systems. Many of the Internet based payment solutions are designed for server use only and for integration with e-commerce applications. In-house systems have a more open architecture, allowing them to be used within custom applications.

  1. When an order is placed on an e-commerce site, the site's web server will contact the payment-processing server.
  2. This payment server is connected to a banking network (via a leased line) and makes a call directly to the banking institution.
The payment server handles the transactions in much the same way as the payment service providers handle them. Some in-house systems also allow for a batch-style processing architecture, whereby the credit cards are authorized (or billed) in large batches at a scheduled time. In this case, the customer won't be asked to wait for their card to be authorized – they may just receive a message from the website stating that their order was received and will be processed. At a later time, the system might send an e-mail to the customer with notification of a successful card authorization (or failure).

Such a system would have the following type of layout...

Redirection Services
...Some companies offer services that allow us to post data or link to their page for payment services. They then handle all the payment processing, and can even return a success/failure message to the customer. This type of service is usually cheaper on per-transaction rates, monthly fees and development time. However, one of the drawbacks is that the user may get a sense of leaving the website, which will make some users feel the transaction is not secure.
This type of service requires no direct component integration with Commerce Server, so we're not going to go into detail here on how to implement the service. However, it is important for developers to know that this type of service exists and how it works in order to make informed design decisions.

Using the same scenario given in the previous two payment type solutions, we can begin to understand where this type of service would come into play:

  1. While the customer is looking at the total for their order, they click the Purchase button to proceed.
  2. At this stage, the site would post information pertaining to the order to the service provider's website, which would generate pages for the submission of credit card information. In many cases, the external pages can be customized to match the look of the original e-commerce site, leaving the user with the sense that they are just accessing one system. The service provider processes the transaction and places the money in the e-commerce company's merchant account....

...A very important concern with this type of service, as with all payment services, is security. If the system is designed poorly, a person could potentially manipulate URL strings and trick the merchant's site into thinking that the payment was successful.

Commerce Server 2000 Payment Integration

At this point, we will cover the implementation of two major payment service providers that supply components that easily integrate into Commerce Server 2000. There is very little development involved with these components, as the implementations are fairly straightforward.

The first component we will start with is a component developed by the CyberSource Corporation. This component is simple to implement and provides a wide range of services....

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1: Getting Started with Commerce Server 2000
Chapter 2: Programming Commerce Server 2000
Chapter 3: User Profiling and Authentication
Chapter 4: Product Catalog System
Chapter 5: Business Analytics
Chapter 6: Implementing Pipelines
Chapter 7: Building Pipeline Components
Chapter 8: Campaigns and Content Selection
Chapter 9: Applying the Content Targeting System
Chapter 10: Active Directory and the Supplier Solution Site
Chapter 11: Sitelets
Chapter 12: Third-Party Solutions for Payment, Tax & Shipping
Chapter 13: BizDesk Architecture
Chapter 14: Extending the BizDesk
Chapter 15: BizTalk Integration
Chapter 16: Internationalization
Chapter 17: Migrating Your Membership Directory
Chapter 18: Migrating Your Store
Appendix A: Commerce Server 2000 Installation
Appendix B: CS2K: COM Quick Reference
Appendix C: CS2K: Schemas Quick Reference
Appendix D: E-Commerce System Deployment
Index

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