Shopping for Web Scripts

The nature of the Web has made it easier for fraudsters to scam us. We often hear stories of people being scammed when purchasing scripts. We have compiled a list of things you should look for when buying web scripts. If you choose wisely, you should get good value for money.

Reviews – Do some homework before buying a script. Search for its listing’s page on Hot Scripts to see if any reviews were left. You can also use our forums and ask other members about their experience with the script. If all fails, you can simply resort to using Google to research.

Requirements – It is important to verify that your web host meets the requirements of the script. Some script will not work under different versions of programming platform or database. Furthermore, certain scripts require that you install add-ons like Apache modules, Perl modules and PEAR packages. If you are unsure about the requirements, it is wise to contact your web hosting provider for more information. Other than the web host requirements, remember to verify the user requirements as well, such as if the script will work with just a web browser, or if it will require any additional plug-ins or software.

License & Agreement – Each scripting package is bound by a license and end-user agreement. These documents will describe the copyright of the script as well as what can be modified with the script. If you are not familiar with the software license, it is worth checking Wikipedia, which maintains a list of commonly used software license.

Demo – Always look for a demo or screenshots of the script you are buying. This will allow you to get a real feel of a working version of the script before you purchase. If there is no demo, then this might be a warning sign. Most serious vendors or developers will have a demo on their site. Scammers usually do not have a demo on their site, which indicates that you might end up not receiving the script or they are selling illegal copies of scripts.

Support & Documentation – This is one of the most important factors and is something that you can easily test before buying. Almost everyone will make claim of how great their support is, so contact them before buying with a few questions about their product. You will get a good idea of their level of knowledge, as well as their response and resolution time. If the application you are buying is a mission critical one, remember to check if they provide phone support.

Upgrades and Bug Fixes – Regardless of how flexible or robust a web application can be, upgrades and bug fixes should never be ignored. Check with the vendor to see how upgrades and bug fixes are handled. Will these be provided for free? How quickly are security vulnerabilities addressed? Secunia is a security site that lists vulnerabilities of popular web scripts. You can, for example, do a quick search for the software you are planning to purchase to see how quickly a patch was issued by its author.

Usage Limits – Certain types of scripts come with usage limits. These limits can be duration of usage, per server or domain name installation or even per number of users. Some vendors will allow you to use their script for one year only and the license will need to be renewed afterward. Others will allow a copy of the script to be installed on only one server or domain name.

Code – The coding of a script is a real quality indication. While you may or may not have access to the codes before purchasing, it is vital to ask the seller a few questions: Is the source code open or encrypted? Is it well documented? How difficult is it to modify the source code? Are there any coding styles or frameworks that are used? A code that is well structured, organized and documented will save you a headache should there be a need to further customize it.

Flexibility – Flexibility involves the ability to customize, tweak, bridge and expand the script. The most important thing is to make sure that it can be skinned easily and branded into your existing template. Remember to check with the vendor to see if add-on modules or skins are available.


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