Interchange is an open source ecommerce system and application server/component application, written in the Perl programming language. Interchange is one of the most powerful tools available to automate and database-enable your web site or build online applications.
At its core, Interchange is a flexible and high-performance application server that handles state and session management, authentication, click trails, filtering, URL encoding, security policy, and much more.
Interchange is well suited for a variety of purposes, and has been set up to perform sales, order processing, content management, customer service, reporting and analysis, personalization, traditional retail sales, digital goods delivery, B2B parts re-ordering, auctions, order status checking, supply chain management, project management, online collaboration, and even an MP3 jukebox.
Interchange is geared towards security. With the thousands of Interchange catalogs out there, we know of no huge security incidents. Some notable features are SQL-injection protection, configurable "secure" (HTTPS) pages, good credit card information handling policies, GPG/PGP support, cross-site scripting protections, support for connecting to multiple databases from the same application, and system-defined filters for user input validation.
Interchange can be used as a completely self-contained standalone product, or as part of a larger system. It can be integrated with payment processing services, ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, point-of-sale systems, accounting systems, external content management systems, other application servers, sales force automation systems, CRM (customer relationship management) systems, email campaign management systems, and remote databases on virtually any platform.
If you need functionality that Interchange doesn't yet provide, you can incorporate it yourself in an extensible way that survives upgrades. If you don't have the time or expertise to do so, there is a strong group of consultants both present on the Public Interchange Mailing Lists and available for complete Commercial Consultancy and Support.
Thousands of people use Interchange and it has taken hundreds of millions of dollars worth of orders in its time. But there is a definite learning curve required to customize Interchange. If you are looking to Interchange for e-commerce, and all you have to sell is a few simple items, it may well be overkill for your needs. If you, however, need a sophisticated ordering or content-management system with unlimited room to grow, Interchange may be right for you.
The History of Interchange
Interchange is a descendent of Vend, an e-commerce solution originally developed by Andrew Wilcox in early 1995. Mike Heins took the first publicly-released version, Vend 0.2, and added searching and DBM catalog storage features to create MiniVend. Mike released MiniVend 0.2m7 on December 28, 1995. Subsequent versions of MiniVend took parts from Vend 0.3, especially the vlink and Server.pm modules, which were adapted to run with MiniVend. In the four years that followed, Mike Heins expanded and enhanced MiniVend, creating a powerful and versatile e-commerce development platform. MiniVend grew to support thousands of businesses and their e-commerce sites, and sites running on MiniVend 4 are still common today.
Separately, an experienced e-commerce development team founded Akopia. Their goal was to create a sophisticated open source e-commerce platform that was both feature-rich and easy to use. Their product, Tallyman, was intuitive, and had great content-management features, but lacked many of MiniVend's capabilities.
Akopia acquired MiniVend in June 2000. Mike Heins and the Tallyman developers combined MiniVend 4 with Tallyman's features to create Interchange. Interchange replaced both MiniVend and Tallyman. In order to preserve compatibility, it was decided that the name "MiniVend" and prefixes like mv_ and MVC_ continue to appear in source code and configuration files. Interchange's first stable release was version 4.6.
In January 2001, Red Hat acquired Akopia and created its new E-Business Solutions Division. Red Hat sponsored the development of Interchange 4.8 and the Red Hat E-Commerce Suite.
In mid-2002, Red Hat decided to stop supporting Interchange development, and a group of individuals formed the Interchange Development Group to coordinate Interchange development independent of any company or person. The first stable release by the new independent group of developers was Interchange 5.0.
Today, Interchange continues to flourish, the user community is active, and new installations continue to be deployed. The current stable Interchange release is 5.8.2, and the current development release is 5.9.0. For Interchange source code and downloads, see page download.
In 2004/2005, Interchange documentation system was completely redesigned in an attempt to achieve better output results and bring the documentation up to date. See page documentation.
For the official Interchange Development Group development team and people who helped Interchange throughout the years, see page people.
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What Interchange users are saying:
Greg Goble, EUR/PPD-VTO.