The Evolution of XLEcom

The Evolution of XLEcom
First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Sam Raheb, the software developer of this "XLEcom Ecommerce Web Site Creator" Program (that's me and my family in the photo to the left).

The following topics below explain both the concept idea and development cycle of this program.

   • Dedication
   • Summary
   • The Development History

This program is dedicated to my most precious little Pomeranian dog Ralfy who passed away on March 24, 2005 from a brain disorder called Hydrocephalus. He was 11 years old and died in my arms.

This XLEcom program was completed just a few hours before his death. Throughout the entire time I spent on developing this program, he sat loyally and patiently next to me every day. This was the saddest day ever in my whole life. I will miss my little Ralfy forever.

I began writing this XLEcom Ecommerce Web Site Creator Program on October 2, 2003 and finished the first public release of the program on March 24, 2005. It took me a total of 5,400 hours to complete it, spending a minimum of 10 hours per day on programming. You may be thinking that 5,400 hours working on an Excel program is insane. Well, I sort of agree with you, but this program demanded this must time to get it to function in the intended way. Also, these hours do not include the time I spent developing the XLEcom web site to promote the program. Hopefully I can sell enough XLEcom programs to compensate me for the time I spent on this program.

The Development History
This XLEcom program initially started out as a simple utility for creating "Add to Cart" hyperlink buttons for use with Paypal's and Mal's e-commerce's Shopping Carts. Later on, I decide to add a little more functionality to the program by giving it the capability to read and write product data to and from a spreadsheet database. Lastly, I finished it off by adding a simple user interface. It was a great little utility for Webmaster types, but not for the general public. For this program to be of use to the general public, it had to at least be capable of creating a simple web site which would include product pictures, descriptions, and "Add to Cart" buttons. Many programming days later, I achieved this goal.

This project was now snowballing into something I was not originally planning to pursue. I was adding feature upon feature to the program and it was becoming highly dependent on Macros. At this point in time, it may have been better off to stop and start over writing it in C++ or similar type environment. Instead, as a challenge, I wanted to see how far I could push the programming capabilities within Microsoft Excel. Keep in mind that there are no DLL support files or prefabricated subroutines to import or utilize as you can in other programming environments. Everything you do within Excel has to be written completely from scratch.

During the process of development and also understanding on how the Global Ecommerce web site business operates, I decided to change my program into a web authoring program that would give the average online store shop owner complete independence from paid Ecommerce service providers. Many people would like to have an Ecommerce store but do not want to pay the high monthly service fees offered by third party Ecommerce service providers to drive their site. Additionally, one of the of the major problems with utilizing an Ecommerce service is that your site will only run on their system, thus if you decide to move your site to another hosting service, you must abandoned your current site and completely rebuild it all over again from the beginning. Thus you are completely dependent on an Ecommerce service provider.

From here on I decided to turn the program into a full blown "Web Site Authoring" program that could create complete professional looking Ecommerce web sites. Also, I wanted the user to have total control over the look and feel of their web sites.

After a few thousand hours later, I obtained my goal of developing a complete "Web Site Authoring" program in Microsoft Excel. The final release of the program can import both text and graphics in WYSIWYG format, has integrated HTML Previewing and Publishing functions, and can shell out to the Operating System to create folders and write HTML files, It can also FTP files to one or multiple web servers simultaneously. All this functionality is achieved within a single 3.0 MB Excel file.

I am proud of my program and happy to offer it as Shareware. This XLEcom program is a good illustration of pushing the limits within the Microsoft Excel environment.

Thank you for taking the time to read this page,

Sam Raheb