We have been extremely frustrated by our OpenCart experience. We're not the only ones... there are many bad reviews of OpenCart for many different reasons and I'll explain them a bit here.
OpenCart is an open source e-commerce platform written in PHP and is based on the MVC platform. The code is clean and written in a way that is easy to modify and understand. Overall, it's a pretty good e-Commerce system and if you know your way around LAMP technology you can modify it nicely to suit your needs. Of the other open source systems we have tried, it's the cleanest and uses the least amount of files overall.
So that's the good about it. We'll let you know our complaints about the software itself in a bit, but what gets us the most is the OpenCart team. As far as we know, there are two main OpenCart contributors... one is Daniel, who recently moved to China and is the OpenCart founder. The other is someone who goes by "Qphoria" on the OpenCart forums, who seems to be one of Daniel's chosen ones to release updates to the software. Qphoria is also a moderator on the forums along with a couple of other guys.
Here are a few reasons why we take back our recommendation of using OpenCart for client sites. First, if you post a question in their forums, be prepared to not receive an answer. In fact, most of the answers are standard canned, and very derogatory. Qphoria along with the other moderators look down on people and even say things like "Why do I bother writing the readme if no one is going to read it". The problem is the readme doesn't include information some people are asking. If it's a true bug, sometimes your thread will get deleted, sometimes it will get locked, and no explanation is given. The forums and the moderators are a mess.
When Qphoria releases updates, the readme many times says that templates are not affected by certain updates. However, the update patch usually contains default template changes. Not only that, but the problem with this, is that if you have a custom template, you need to be very careful because the template changes go to the default folder, not the custom folder. In other words, if you have template changes your updates end up being very cumbersome and time consuming.
Daniel must have a lot going on. He constantly sets dates or gives time frames for when versions will be launched, but those days come and go. Sure, it's free, and what can you expect, but with attitudes like this, they can't expect us to use their platform on client sites. When we give clients expectations, and set deadlines, it's impossible to coordinate this with OpenCart since they only have empty promises. For example, OpenCart 1.5 was promised about 6 months ago, and every 2 weeks there is a new promise to when it will be delivered. Still we wait.
Unlike other platforms, we don't know when the next patch will be released either. Qphoria just released OpenCart 220.127.116.11 and has already started talking about 18.104.22.168. When you ask him when 22.214.171.124 is scheduled, so you can plan it around your clients, he says, in a very abrupt way "it'll be released when it's released". However, most of the time he won't even answer.
These releases have gotten so bad, there is a thread on the OpenCart forum called "Conspiracy Theories". Sad.
So how does OpenCart makes it's money? From add ons. When someone releases an add on into the OpenCart community, and charges for it, Daniel takes a 20% commission. Many of the add ons won't work with 1.5, so people would need to likely re-purchase any add ons that they bought when using 1.4.x.
Another problem is if you have a store on 1.4.x, and want to upgrade to 1.5, the team has already said that most all custom templates won't work, and also your product options won't carry over. Have fun either manually creating your options all over again, or pay for some custom script to move your old options over. What a mess.
At this point, we have started to play with PrestaShop, and there's more of a learning curve with it, but at least their team is much more in tune with their user base. TomatoCart also looks interesting.
If you want to use OpenCart, stick with 126.96.36.199, and don't give your clients any expectations on new features. When 1.5 comes out, it's going to be a RC release any way, so it's going to go through many rounds of bug testing. I'd stay way from OpenCart until at least 1.5.1.
My recommendation to Daniel:
1) Start a timeline, and stick to it. Give your user base a good release schedule. Your user base is losing faith and jumping ship.
2) Tell your moderators to be more gentle with their users, and if not, fire them. Are they doing this because they love it, or because they have to? They're acting like it's because of the latter.
3) Don't be so defensive. There are many posts of you attacking the poster for giving their opinion. This really looks negatively upon you.
4) Both you and your moderators act like the world owes you a favor. We were just fine without OpenCart and we'll be just fine without it. Don't give us a reason to all bail ship.
Your mileage may vary with OpenCart, but my frustration level is pretty high. Daniel promises that things will get better with OpenCart, but so far none of us have any reason to believe it.