In early 1999, Darren Ehlers (a.k.a. STARBASE-21) released it’s first module: AgentTrk™ for Miva Merchant v1.x. This was one of the first of many modules written to make use of and extend the Miva Merchant shopping cart. By June of that same year, the list of available modules had grown, and they had already outgrown the extents of the Miva Merchant module API and needed more control over the UI; hence, the STARBASE-21 Look & Feel (SBUI) module was born.
The SBUI included hooks for each and every STARBASE-21 module, but also required an update every time a module was updated or a new module was released. This became very difficult to maintain and became even more confusing as the end-users customized the SBUI to match their specific store layout (or added non-STARBASE-21 modules, such as those written by Bill Weiland of EmporiumPlus.com). There had to be a better way…
In March of 2000, Miva Merchant v2.x was first released, and the time for change had come. The determination was made that to advance the Miva Merchant module market, a way for modules to cooperate together (even modules from different developers) had to be designed and deployed. Design input was gathered from many Miva Merchant developers, most notably Jeff Collins (NerdBoyInc.com) and Jeff Huber (4TheBest.net). Darren, using STARBASE-21 module sales for funding, initiated a month-long development of the initial OpenUI Look & Feel module. It would provide a way for modules to externally hook into the UI, without directly modifying the UI script. This would allow for easy UI upgrades, and put the control of the module changes back inside the modules.
On April 2nd of 2000, the first OpenUI Look & Feel module was released. To foster support from other module developers, and the Merchant community as a whole, the decision was made to not place the STARBASE-21 name on it, but instead to create a developer-independant OpenUI Developer Consortium to develop and maintain the new Look & Feel module. As a result, the OpenUI was quickly adopted by the other developers and true plug-n-play screen modules with Miva Merchant became a reality.
Enhancements, speed improvements and security updates continued thru all Miva Merchant v2.x, v3.x and v4.x updates, until the release of Miva Merchant v4.14 and the Miva Compiler in September of 2002. At this point in time, STARBASE-21 had been closed (modules being supported and resold thru modStop.com) and to convert the macros so prevalent inside the OpenUI (required for performance reasons) to compiled-compatible Miva Script required a major redesign. Since no module sales were around to fund the development, the time had come for the OpenUI to support it’s own evolution…the OpenUI started it’s compiled life at the low-cost of $20/store. Up to this point, the OpenUI shopper screens were still almost a visual copy of the MMUI Look & Feel. But that was about to change…
The release of the OpenUI v4.48/v4.54 introduced the OpenOrders™ and OpenBatches™ interfaces, and the OpenUI Statistics. These were the first of many major enhancements to be made available to the OpenUI users over the following 6 months, culminating with the release of OpenTokens™. Thru the years, the OpenUI has proven itself to be the most widely used 3rd party module, and many developers wouldn’t dream of designing a store without it.
Jump on board and enjoy the ride…the future is rich and OpenUI will continue to lead the way.