How did you get into module development for MIVA Merchant?
Bill: In 1997, Simplenet (my host back then), installed the htmlscript (old name for MIVA Script) on their servers. Prior to that time, I had created a static catalog for my movie posters using a PC program I had written in Visual Objects. I adapted that catalog to use the new, dynamic htmlscript files instead of static pages. Later in 1997, the old flat file data system was replaced with dBASEIII plus files. This was great since I had been writing dBASE (dBASE, Clipper and Visual Objects) applications since the early 1980s. I easily converted my catalog to use dbf files for data storage. Joe Austin, originator of htmlscript/MIVA Script, told me about a new cart system they were working on and wanted to know if I would be interested in trying it out. He mentioned the system would have great extensibility with the use of plugins which he thought I might be interested in writing. The rest is history.
What is your favorite module you've developed for MIVA Merchant?
Bill: Coupon Redemption. I like to get a break and I like to give people a break. Coupons are a great way to do that. That very popular module is the first I suggest when new folks ask what would be useful in their store.
When coming up with a new module concept, where do you draw inspiration? How do you recognize a need?
Bill: Many of my module ideas come from my own live catalog. As it sells something other than software, I get a perspective of what store owners need to market, sell and deliver goods. Since it is a live store, the 100+ modules in my store get a good workout which helps identify shortcomings and the need for new features. My next source of ideas comes from the MIVA user lists (now Forums). When someone asks about feature availability that is not in the core MIVA Merchant, I evaluate the broader community need, what is involved in the project, and how much time I have for development. If it seems like a good project, I do it.
Any exciting new projects you're developing? What can we expect to see from Emporium Plus in the near future?
Bill: My big project is converting the remaining 4.x modules to 5.x; only a couple dozen to go. Then, who knows what the next big project will be.
What hobby or activity keeps you from working?
Bill: Nothing. Last week I was working from high above the strip in Las Vegas. While I was on vacation, I was still doing support, processing orders, adding features to the EZ Batch Report module, and trying to figure out how the new forums work. I'm rarely away from the computer more than 4 hours without checking emails, except when I am sleeping. The office is where I am.
As a small business owner, what is the best business tip you’ve received?
Bill: Keep the prices fair, don't make the software too complex with rarely used features, try to resolve support questions in a reasonable amount of time.
Finally, if you weren't a MIVA Developer, what do you think you would be doing now?
Bill: Travel. As many of you know, I am a retired Air Force officer and veterinarian. So starting another career is not on my to-do list.