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An innovative JavaScript shopping cart

I’ve never been a Mac person (until my iBook arrives later today) but I have nonetheless heard about Panic Inc. from time to time. They make a popular Mac FTP client, Transmit, and I read their entertaining Story of Audion a while ago.

More recently, Simon linked to their new T-shirt store, which makes nice use of JavaScript for an innovative interface. You drag a shirt to the shopping cart at the bottom of the screen, and thumbnails of shirts accumulate along with a live total. As Simon points out, it isn’t accessible to those without JavaScript—in fact, when I tried it with JavaScript turned off, it was very frustrating.

It would be very easy to add a fallback option for those without JavaScript—just make the “add to cart” buttons real links. Meanwhile, it’s still the easiest purchasing experience I’ve ever seen and would be perfect for small merchants whose catalogs can appear on one page.

There’s also another drag-and-drop trick on their home page: drag an application’s icon to the top to download it. This is more of a novelty than anything else, but it does look neat (and you can download with JavaScript turned off too.)


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1. Posted Feb 3, 2005, 4:55 PM ET by Cabel

Thanks so much for the kind words, and for checking out the cart!

As for the non-JS issue, it's slightly trickier it may seem. :) Fortunately, I've yet to get any e-mails from people not running JavaScript, which I must say maintains my faith in humanity.

So, the entire shopping cart is managed via JavaScript -- this isn't a server-side cart, it's all stored on the client end via cookies, and there's no communication to the server when "Add To Cart" is triggered. Now, obviously this can have some scalability issues down the road, what with cookie length limits and all. I'm guessing that at some point I'm going to have to switch to a server-side cart (maybe using XMLHttpRequest to send cart changes?), at which point I could most definitely provide non-JS "Add To Cart" links...

Anyway, I'm certainly thinking about it, and hope to provide a better non-JS solution in the future. Unless I don't get any e-mails about it, in which case, I'm off to Jamaica.

If you have any more thoughts, feel free to send them my way!

2. Posted Feb 12, 2005, 7:02 AM ET by Kae Verens

That's fantastic! I love the semi-transparent effect on the dragging. I don't have IE on this machine, so don't know how it looks there, but it's great in Firefox on Linux.

I'm actually working on an XMLHTTPRequest-based cart at the moment. It's interface is no-where near that fancy, though (sample shopping cart).

Feel free to grab the code.

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