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University of Cape Town

Honours Project Proposal

Table of contents
1

Project Description...................................................................................................3
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6
1.7

Related Work.......................................................................................................... 5
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4

SYSTEM.......................................................................................................................... 6
Software........................................................................................................................ 6
KEY FEATURES................................................................................................................ 6
MAJOR DESIGN CHALLENGES........................................................................................... 7
QUESTIONS TACKLED....................................................................................................... 7
What is being investigated?........................................................................................... 7
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?.................................................................................................... 7
WHAT METHODS ARE YOU GOING TO USE?........................................................................9
EXPECTED IMPACT OF THE PROJECT................................................................................8
Key Success Factors..................................................................................................... 8

Work detail.............................................................................................................. 8
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
4.5
4.6

5
6

Thesis: Architecture to Support Electronic Commerce for Small Businesses in


Developing Countries.................................................................................................... 5
Paper: Next Generation Web Technologies in Content Management............................5
Paper: Content for One: Developing a Personal Content Management System...........5
Paper: Developing of an Electronic Commerce Portal System using a Specific
Software Development Process....................................................................................6

Outcomes................................................................................................................ 6
3.1
3.1.1
3.1.2
3.1.3
3.2
3.2.1
3.2.2
3.2.3
3.3
3.4

CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (CMS)..........................................................................3


THE E-COMMERCE WEBSITE/PORTAL...............................................................................3
PRODCUT, MERCHANT AND CUSTOMER DATABASE............................................................3
ONLINE TRANSACTION SECURITY SYSTEM........................................................................4
DATA SECURITY SYSTEM.................................................................................................. 4
SYSTEM OVERVIEW......................................................................................................... 4
SCOPE OF THE PROJECT.................................................................................................. 5

RISKS............................................................................................................................. 8
TIMELINE......................................................................................................................... 8
RESOURCES REQUIRED................................................................................................... 9
DELIVERABLES................................................................................................................. 9
MILESTONES.................................................................................................................... 9
WORK ALLOCATION TO TEAM MEMBERS.............................................................................9

References............................................................................................................ 10
Appendix............................................................................................................... 11

customer database (MySQL). The


CMS will process merchants
SMS/MMS requests to update, add or
remove products from the website.
The CMS will also handle any
changes that must be made to the
database as a result of transactions
on the e-commerce website. This
information would be processed and
the database would be updated
accordingly using SQL queries.

1 Project Description
Tiro Sethate, a Botswana National
who is a PhD student in the
Department of Computer Science at
UCT is currently investigating the
problems associated with ECommerce in developing countries.
One of the requirements is an ECommerce portal which will allow
formal and informal merchants in
developing countries to advertise and
sell their goods on the internet. This
would permit rural communities to
make their wares available to the rest
of the world via the World Wide Web.

1.2 The E-Commerce


Website/Portal
The e-commerce website/portal will
provide Botswanas merchants with a
medium through which they will be
able to sell their merchandise. It will
provide online shoppers with an
interface through which they will be
able to purchase merchandise from
formal and informal merchants in
Botswana. This e-commerce website
component will be written in PHP,
which is a very popular and versatile
e-commerce programming language.
The website will provide shoppers
with information about the various
products that are for sale. The
information will include prices,
product descriptions, stock availability
as well as photographs of the
products.

The objective of this project is to


create an e-commerce web portal
with a content management system
which would allow product
information to be updated securely
using a mobile device. The web portal
will have an online interface in the
form of an e-commerce website that
will allow users to buy goods from the
merchants in Botswana.
This project will be divided into 5
separate components:
1. The content management
system (CMS)
2. The e-commerce
website/portal
3. The product, merchant and
customer database
4. The online transaction security
system
5. The data security system

1.3 Product, Merchant and


Customer Database
The product, merchant and customer
database will store all information
about the products that will be sold on
the e-commerce portal (prices,
product descriptions, photos of
products). It will also store merchant
information (names, banking details,
contact details) as well as customer

1.1 Content Management


System (CMS)
The CMS will be responsible for
managing the product, merchant and
3

Figure 1: Overview of the e-commerce portal architecture


details (credit card information,
shipping address). This database will
use the MySQL architecture and will
be manipulated using SQL queries
via the content management system.

customer information database


mentioned earlier.

1.5

Data Security System

The data security system will allow


data to be securely transmitted
between the various components of
the e-commerce portal. This includes
transmission of product, merchant
and customer information from the
content management system to the
website, and also the transmission of
data from the website to the content
management system.

1.4 Online Transaction


Security System
The online transaction security
system will provide a safe and secure
method for online shoppers to make
credit card purchases on the ecommerce website. When a credit
purchase is made using the website,
the credit card information will be
encrypted using Secure Socket Layer
(SSL) and transmitted to the bank for
processing. This security system will
also provide access control for
website visitors, which will allow only
registered users to make purchases.
The registered customers account
information will be stored in the

1.6

System Overview

Figure 1 shows how the final ecommerce portal architecture will


function and the parties that will be
involved in its use.

Figure 1 depicts two scenarios that


show how the system will typically be
used. The first shows the process of
a merchant updating his product
information via SMS. The second
scenario depicts an online shopper
making a purchase via the ecommerce website.

1.7

uses Botswana as a case study for


his research.
Keywords: Electronic commerce,
developing countries, mobile
commerce, business model,
Architecture
We also looked at a number of
papers discussing general designs
and implementations of content
management systems.

Scope of the Project

There are two main limitations to the


scope of this project:
The e-commerce online portal
will not handle shipping or
tracking of ordered products.
The implementation of this
project will be limited to
Botswana.

2.2 Paper: Next Generation


Web Technologies in Content
Management
In this paper, the authors present a
proposal for an efficient and flexible
content management system called
Infoflex [2]. It is designed for
management of distributed content
using the latest web technologies
such as web services and semantic
web facilities.

Related Work

This project forms part of an on going


PhD thesis Architecture to Support
Electronic Commerce for Small
Businesses in Developing Countries
by Tiro Sethate. A number of ideas
and concepts mentioned in his work
will be used in the development of the
e-commerce portal.

Keywords: Content management,


web services, semantic web

2.3 Paper: Content for One:


Developing a Personal
Content Management System
This was an especially interesting
paper as it discusses the creation and
use of an easy-to-use personal
Content Management System, or
CMS. He also compares a range of
open-source packaged systems and
some made using PHP and MySQL
[3]. This is very close to the type of
system we would like to develop.

2.1 Thesis: Architecture to


Support Electronic Commerce
for Small Businesses in
Developing Countries
Tiro Sethates research investigates
the different computer application
architectures and explores the
appropriate architecture that will
enable small business enterprises to
conduct electronic commerce [1]. He

Keywords: Content Management


Systems, calendars, documentation,
scripting.

The languages that will be used to


program the system as well as the
features that the system will contain
are explained in detail in this section.

2.4 Paper: Developing of an


Electronic Commerce Portal
System using a Specific
Software Development
Process

We also mention design challenges


that we will face while designing the
e-commerce portal.
3.1.1 Software

In this paper, the authors discuss how


the development process of
electronic commerce portal systems
differs significantly from normal
software development. This is
because in the case of highlyinteractive e-commerce systems, the
ergonomics, didactics and
psychology are especially important
and thus conventional software
development processes must be
adapted to accommodate for these
needs. [4]

The content management system and


the data security system for the ecommerce portal will be developed in
Java. This language was chosen
because it is platform-independent
and because it supports a number of
easy-to-use socket and database
libraries that will prove useful for this
project.
The e-commerce website will coded
in PHP as it provides excellent
connectivity to databases and is a
very versatile language.

The design principles and


development models mentioned in
this paper will be very useful in
designing the e-commerce websites
user interface.

In order to build the product,


merchant and customer database, we
will use MySQL Server with the
MySQL Database Manager package.

Keywords: Electronic commerce,


software development process,
application integration,
component based development,
distributed architecture design.

3.1.2 Key Features


The e-commerce portal will have the
following key features:
An online shop that will allow
online shoppers to buy wares
from Botswanas formal and
informal merchants.
A search engine on the
website to allow customers to
find specific types of
merchandise.
A secure online transaction
system that will allow shoppers

3 Outcomes
3.1

System

The primary outcome of this project


will be the e-commerce web portal
and the content management system.
6

to purchase goods safely using


their credit cards.
A database of merchandise
with photos, product
descriptions and stock
information. This database will
also contain all relevant
merchant and customer
information.
A content management system
that will process SMS and
MMS commands sent by
merchants. These commands
will be processed and the
necessary updates will be
made to the database.
A data security system that will
ensure that all data that is
transmitted between the
various system-components is
secure.

There is also a challenge in obtaining


input from the user. As mentioned the
user would use the SMS/MMS format
to send information to the content
management system. A command list
scheme will be used to make
changes to the products, this means
that we will have to make a list of
commands that will be intuitive and
easy to remember.
The database will hold the banking
information of the buyer and the
seller. This means that security would
be an issue since data must not be
sent to unintended recipients or
accessed by unauthorized users.

3.2

Questions Tackled

3.2.1 What is being investigated?


We are investigating whether ecommerce architecture can be
developed for small businesses in
developing countries such as
Botswana. We are also investigating
whether the portal can be updated
using a mobile phone via a content
management system.

3.1.3 Major Design Challenges


One of the challenges that we face is
designing for developing countries.
Since this project is directed towards
Botswana, a developing country, one
realizes that the users are not as
computer literate as we are. They do
not understand how computers work
and will have difficulties in operating a
computer or even a cellular phone.
This is a problem since they are the
end users of the project.

3.2.2 Why is it important?


This investigation will give Botswana
and other developing countries new
opportunities. It will allow sellers of
goods in these countries to expose
their goods to the international
community and to begin export their
products to other countries. It will also
give small businesses in developing
countries access to a global market.
This will be an important step forward
in developing 3rd world countries IT
infrastructure and strengthening their
economies through increased trade.

This would also be a problem when


designing the content management
system since the people responsible
for updating the web portal would
have a minimal computer education
background. Thus, the content
management system would be
designed in a way such that it would
require minimal human intervention.

3.2.3 What methods are you


going to use?

The e-commerce portal will be


developed at UCT and implemented
on one of the university machines for
testing purposes. The system will
then be thoroughly tested to ensure
that it works correctly. Once the
testing of the whole system is
complete, we may be able to pilot it in
Botswana to get an idea of how the
public will receive and use such a
new service.

4.1 RISKS
Some of the risks that we must
account for while the project is under
way are:
The hard drive containing the
project code and
documentation crashes (Can
be mitigated by keeping
multiple backups of all code
and documentation)
One of the team members falls
ill and cannot work (Can be
mitigated by constantly
informing each other of what
the other is doing, so he may
take over the others work until
the ill team member has
recovered).

3.3 Expected Impact of the


Project
The system that we will develop
during this project could be used as a
generic architecture or template for
other e-commerce portals that will be
developed for developing countries.
This system will give developing
countries a window of opportunity to
display their products to the world,
instead of only their neighboring cities
or countries. E-commerce would grow
and be more prevalent in Botswana
and later in other developing
countries. This, in turn, would help
grow the economies of these nations
and help bridge the gap between
developing countries and the first
world.

3.4

Work detail

In order to minimize risks and the


delays in project development that
they may cause, the project team will
meet regularly and discuss any
issues that may arise. This will allow
us to plan ahead and mitigate risks
before they occur.

4.2 TIMELINE
The project is expected to run for
approximately six months. This
includes the development of all the ecommerce portal components, writing
up of the report as well as the
completion of the posters and the
project website. Please see the
appendix for a detailed Gantt chart of
the project.

Key Success Factors

The key success factors of this


project lie in whether the final ecommerce portal functions as
planned and whether it will be
accepted and used by the merchants
in Botswana.

4.3 RESOURCES REQUIRED


For this project we will require:

Two personal computers for


coding the e-commerce portal
components.
A server system on which we
will set up the e-commerce
portal. This will be used for
testing purposes and for the
demonstrations.
A mobile phone to test
SMS/MMS commands that the
e-commerce portal will use.

4.4

Deliverables

4.6 Work allocation to team


members

The following table shows all the


deliverables for this project:
Deliverable

Due date

Final project proposal (this document)

4 May 07

Project presentation

11 May 07

Definition and Background chapters

25 May 07

Design chapter

30 July 07

Prototype of system for demonstration

2 August 07

User evaluation of system

24 September 07

Implementation and testing chapters


Outline of complete report

The project workload will be divided


between the two team members as
follows:
Konstantin Masalov
Development of the ECommerce website
Development of the product,
merchant and customer
database
Development of the online
transaction security system
Creation of the project website

1 October 07

Draft of project report

15 October 07

Final project report

19 October 07

Poster

23 October 07

Project web page

24 October 07

Final system for demonstration

25 October 07

Final project presentation

15 November 07

Completion of the content


management system and data
security components.
Completion of the e-commerce
website and online transaction
security components.
Completion of the product,
merchant and customer
database.
Successful integration and
testing of all the systems
components.
Demonstration of the final ecommerce portal.
Final project presentation and
the end of the project.

Shiraaz Moollatjie
Development of the Content
Management System
Development of the data
security system
Creation of the project poster

Table 1: Deliverables for the project

4.5 Milestones
The major milestones for the project
will be:
Completion of the designs and
planning for the e-commerce
portal.

The rest of the work, such as testing


and integration of the system
components will be done by both
team members.
9

ACM. DOI=
http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm
?
coll=GUIDE&dl=GUIDE&id=564
106

5 References
[1]

Sethate, T. 2007. Architecture to


Support Electronic Commerce
for Small Businesses in
Developing Countries. Ongoing
PhD thesis

[2]

Fernndez-Garcia, N., SnchezFernandez, L., and VillamorLugo, J. 2004. Next generation


web technologies in content
management. In Proceedings of
the 13th international World
Wide Web Conference on
Alternate Track Papers &Amp;
Posters (New York, NY, USA,
May 19 - 21, 2004). WWW Alt.
'04. ACM Press, New York, NY,
260-261. DOI=
http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1013
367.1013425

[3]

Simpson, D. L. 2005. Content for


one: developing a personal
content management system. In
Proceedings of the 33rd Annual
ACM SIGUCCS Conference on
User Services (Monterey, CA,
USA, November 06 - 09, 2005).
SIGUCCS '05. ACM Press, New
York, NY, 338-342. DOI=
http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1099
435.1099512

[4]

Gruhn, V., Mocker, M., Schope,


L. 2006. Development of an
Electronic Commerce Portal
System using a Specific
Software Development Process.
In Proceedings of the Fortieth
International Conference on
Tools Pacific: Objects for
internet, mobile and embedded
applications (Sydney, Australia).

10

Appendix

Gantt chart showing the timeline of the project


ID

T ask Name

Planning

Duration
15 days

Start
Mon 07/07/02

Finish

'07 Jul

Thu 07/07/19

Requirements anal ysis

6 days

Mon 07/07/02

Mon 07/07/09

Designi ng content management system

9 days

T ue 07/07/10

T hu 07/07/19

Designi ng website and database

9 days

T ue 07/07/10

Dev eloping content management system

31 days

Fri 07/07/20

T hu 07/07/19
Thu 07/08/30

Bui lding back-end software

25 days

Fri 07/07/20

T hu 07/08/23

Setting up data security

11 days

Mon 07/08/13

Sun 07/08/26

15 days

Mon 07/08/13

36 days

Fri 07/07/20

Thu 07/09/06

8
9

T esting content management system


Dev eloping w ebsite and database system

T hu 07/08/30

10

Setting up MySQL database

9 days

Fri 07/07/20

Wed 07/08/01

11

Coding PHP pages

25 days

Mon 07/07/23

Fri 07/08/24

12

Refining website interface

21 days

Mon 07/08/06

Fri 07/08/31

13

Setting up onli ne transaction security

11 days

T ue 07/08/21

Mon 07/09/03

T esting website

15 days

Mon 07/08/20

T hu 07/09/06

1 day

T hu 07/08/02

T hu 07/08/02

11 days

Fri 07/09/07

Fri 07/09/21

8 days

Fri 07/09/07

T ue 07/09/18

14
15

Demoing prototype of system

16

Integrating w ebsite and CMS

17

Linking websi te to content management system

18

T esting integrated system

19

Implementing e-commerce portal

20

Setting up final e-commerce portal

21

Demonstrating system

8 days

Wed 07/09/12

26 days

Mon 07/09/24

Fri 07/09/21
Thu 07/10/25

5 days

Mon 07/09/24

Fri 07/09/28

1 day

T hu 07/10/25

T hu 07/10/25

22

Preparing final deliv erables

20 days

23

Prepari ng final report

16 days

Tue 07/09/25
T ue 07/09/25

Thu 07/10/18
Sun 07/10/14

24

Designi ng poster

10 days

Mon 07/10/08

T hu 07/10/18

25

Designi ng project website

10 days

Mon 07/10/08

T hu 07/10/18

'07 Aug

'07 Sep

'07 Oct

'07 Nov

'07 Dec