The E-Commerce Column

Join The Hotcakes Community!

Hotcakes Commerce Community

Open source software has changed the world. It has leveled the playing field and has provided unrestricted access to powerful enterprise software solutions. It has also cultivated massive online communities where people collaborate and make contributions to improve these solutions. Hotcakes is a robust e-commerce CMS solution which was recently released under an open source license. In order to build a strong foundation for our open source community, we have created a variety of ways for people to contribute:

Getting Started

All activities you do in the Hotcakes community will be related to your User account. So the first thing you should do is Register on the Hotcakes website. It is much easier to relate to someone when you know what they look like, so it is generally a good idea to include a photo in your profile. You will receive community points (1) for each day that you are logged in and active on the Hotcakes site.

Getting Involved

Everything in open source involves other people. Basically you are joining a team, and that means you need to understand the dynamics of the community. Listening is the best way to get started and find out what the project needs. The best channel for listening is the Forums, and community points (1) will be awarded to you each time you read a new conversation. Eventually you will have a question of your own, or perhaps an answer to another users question, so you will want to submit a post. Community points are awarded for each post you contribute (5).

Submit Issues

Code is the heart of any open source project, but don’t think that writing code is the only way to contribute. Maintenance of code and the systems surrounding the code are often neglected in the rush to create new features. Look to these areas as an easy way to get started with a project. Hotcakes has a publicly available issue tracking system on Github. It’s the primary conduit of communication between users and developers. If you find an issue with the product, please take the time to search the issue tracker to determine if it has been logged already. If not, entering a detailed description of the problem including the specific steps to reproduce it is an extremely valuable contribution. Community points are awarded for each issue you submit (10), however you will need to be sure to first add your Github username to your user profile on the Hotcakes site so that the system is able to recognize your Github contributions.

Working with Code

Programmers of all experience levels can help with the code. Don’t think that you have to be a programming genius to make contributions. Hotcakes has its own workflow for accepting code from contributors, so please be sure to familiarize yourself with the steps prior to making a contribution. Whenever you modify code, make sure that you act as a responsible member of the community and keep your code style to match the rest of the codebase. It makes it easier for maintainers to review and for other developers to understand. Rather than developing large enhancements which satisfy your own personal use case, it is often better to focus on fixing bugs, writing test cases, or adding comments. These are low hanging fruit and add a lot of value to the community. Community points are awarded for each pull request you submit (25), however you will need to be sure to first add your Github username to your user profile on the Hotcakes site so that the system is able to recognize your Github contributions.


Documentation is typically the part of a project that gets neglected. It also can suffer from having been written from an expert point of view, rather than through the eyes of a beginner. Often a set of fresh eyes can point out deficiencies in the documentation that those who are too close to the project do not notice. Hotcakes utilizes the Blog for documentation. If you write an article and wish to have it published, please contact a project maintainer. Community points are awarded for each blog you contribute (20).

Product Marketing

In order to make new people feel comfortable and confident with the capabilities of an open source project it is important to provide reference examples of implementations. Hotcakes has a Showcase directory where sites that are running the software can be contributed. The Showcase will automatically create a screen shot for you and will perform periodic validation that the site is still active. Community points are awarded for each showcase site you contribute (20).

Social Media Marketing

To create awareness of an open source project, you need to rely on the viral marketing capabilities of your community. Hotcakes contains integration with Twitter which provides communtity points (5) for every tweet a user posts that contains the Hotcakes social identity @mmmcommerce or hashtag #HotcakesCommerce. In order to enable this option, you first need to add your Twitter username to your user profile on the Hotcakes site so that the system is able to recognize your Twitter contributions.


Many people are motivated by receiving recognition for their community contributions. Hotcakes has a public Leaderboard which displays the list of users who have made the most contributions in the past month. It allows you to click on a user to see the specific types of activities they are involved in. It also has a variety of filters which allow you to analyze the information from different perspectives.

There are so many ways to contribute to Hotcakes. We welcome everyone to come and get involved in our open source community.


About the Author

Shaun Walker is a Practice Area Partner and Innovation Lead at Arrow Digital, LLC. He is also the original creator of DotNetNuke, the most widely adopted open source CMS on the Microsoft platform, and Chairman of the .NET Foundation Advisory Council.

What Do You Think?

blog comments powered by Disqus

  • Sign-up for the Hotcakes Community Newsletter: