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The History of Interchange

Interchange is a descendent of Vend, an e-commerce solution originally developed by Andrew Wilcox in early 1995. Mike Heins took the first publicly-​released version, Vend 0.2, and added searching and DBM catalog storage features to create MiniVend. Mike released MiniVend 0.2m7 on December 28, 1995. Subsequent versions of MiniVend took parts from Vend 0.3, especially the vlink and modules, which were adapted to run with MiniVend. In the four years that followed, Mike Heins expanded and enhanced MiniVend, creating a powerful and versatile e-commerce development platform. MiniVend grew to support thousands of businesses and their e-commerce sites.

Separately, an experienced e-commerce development team founded Akopia. Their goal was to create a sophisticated open source e-commerce platform that was both feature-​rich and easy to use. Their product, Tallyman, was intuitive, and had great content-​management features, but lacked many of MiniVend’s capabilities.

Akopia acquired MiniVend in June 2000. Mike Heins and the Tallyman developers combined MiniVend 4 with Tallyman’s features to create Interchange. In order to preserve compatibility, it was decided that the name “MiniVend” and prefixes like mv_ and MVC_ continue to appear in source code and configuration files. Interchange’s first stable release was version 4.6.

In January 2001, Red Hat acquired Akopia and created its new E-Business Solutions Division. Red Hat sponsored the development of Interchange 4.8 and the Red Hat E-Commerce Suite.

In mid-2002 Red Hat stopped supporting Interchange development, and its core developers formed the Interchange Development Group to coordinate development independently. Their first stable release was Interchange 5.0.

In 2004/2005, the Interchange documentation system was completely redesigned in to achieve better output results and bring the documentation up to date.

Around 2007 Stefan Hornburg spearheaded a new Interchange catalog template called WellWell, with a number of contributors and users.

In 2008 for Interchange 5.6, Sonny Cook and others added complete Unicode support for the UTF-8 character-set encoding, after several years of partial ad-hoc approaches to using UTF-8 in Interchange. Improvements and accommodation to Perl’s finicky Safe module continued over the next year or so.

From around 2009 through 2015 possible future directions for Interchange were discussed and experiments developed. An incompatible new Interchange 6 was begun, code-​named first Bongo and then Nitesi. It “stands on the shoulders of giants” such as Plack/​PSGI, Dancer, CPAN modules, and modern Perl, and uses UTF-8 throughout. Plugins provide additional functionality like payment gateways, coupons, shipping calculation, reviews, etc. While it was used on a couple of production sites, it never became a general replacement for Interchange 5.

During those same years Interchange 5 saw a steady flow of improvements, including full IPv6 support, bcrypt password hashing with automatic promotion from older hash types, new and updated payment gateway modules, increased performance, support for fine-grained HTTP caching control and modern cookie features, increased default security by limiting access to session dump & code evaluation features, and many new convenience features making development more efficient.

Late 2015 Josh Lavin changed the default Interchange demo catalog (application) to a new one called Strap, replacing the previous “Standard” demo. Strap is based on the Bootstrap framework and brought many new features: UTF-8 by default, SEO-friendly URLs, gift certificates, stock alerts, address books, default email for user names, bcrypt passwords, password reset links in email instead of reminders sending old passwords, and simpler templating and configuration. This made it much easier to use many longstanding Interchange features out of the box.

In 2018 we increased the minimum Perl version required by Interchange to 5.14.1, after many years of conservative support for Perl versions as old as 5.8.5. This allowed core Interchange code to take advantage of newer Perl syntax, updated standard modules, and better Unicode support in Perl.

Today, Interchange 5 continues to power many busy ecommerce sites. It is well-​maintained and supported, with new integrations and features being added as needed. The current stable release is version 5.10.0. See the download page to access the source code repository and package downloads now!

Retired Core Team Members

Brev PattersonMar 2001Nov 2007Developer
Daniel BrowningJun 2001Nov 2016Developer
David ChristensenAug 2009Nov 2020Developer, release manager
David KellyMay 2002Jul 2009Design
Davor OcelićJun 2004Mar 2011XMLDOCS Interchange documentation system, website, I18N
Ed LaFranceSep 2001Dec 2004Developer
Ethan RoweNov 2004Oct 2010Developer
Jonathan ClarkJan 2001Jun 2009Developer
Josh LavinFeb 2012Feb 2018Developer
JT JustmanDec 2008Jan 2010Developer
Jure KodžomanJun 2008Apr 2020Interchange 6, Design
Kevin WalshJan 2002Mar 2011Developer, mod_interchange Apache module maintainer
Mark Lipscombe Jun 2009Oct 2014Developer
Paul VinciguerraSep 2003Jun 2009Developer
Randy MooreDec 2002Jul 2009Developer
Ton VerhagenJun 2001Oct 2014Developer

Other contributors

Alison SmithAndreas KoenigAndrew Rich
Bill CarrBill DawkinsBill Randle
Birgitt FunkBob JordanBrent Kelly
Brian BullenBrian KosickBrian Miller
Bruce AlbrechtCameron PrinceCarl Bailey
Chen NaorChristian MuellerChristopher Miller
Christopher ThompsonChristopher WenhamDan Busarow
Dan Collis-PuroDan HelfmanDaniel Hutchinson
Daniel ThompsonDave WingateDavid Adams
Dennis CroninDon GrodeckiDon Hathaway
Donald AlexanderEric ZarkoFrank Bonita
Frederic SteinfelsGary BensonGunnar Hellekson
Hamish BradickHans-Joachim LeidingerHeinz Wittenbecher
Hiroyuki Cozy KojimaIgnacio LizaránIvan Kohler
Jack TsaiJason HoltJason Kohles
Javier MartinJeff BarrJeff Boes
Jeff CarnahanJeff FearnJeff Nappi
Jochen WiedmannJonathan WalkerJordan Adler
Josh BraeggerJosh LavinJosé Mª Revuelto
Jurgen BotzJustin OttenKaare Rasmussen
KeikoKeith OberlinKim Lauritz Christensen
Larry HuffmanLarry LeszczynskiLars Tode
Lyn St GeorgeMarc AustinMarco Pessotto
Mark StosbergMarty TennisonMassimiliano Ciancio
Mat JonesMatthew SchickMax Cohan
Michael LehmkuhlMichael McCuneMichael Wilk
Mick WeissMike FragerNeil Evans
Nelson FerrariPaul DelysPaul Jordan
Phil SmithRaj GoelRay Desjardins
Reid SutherlandRené HertellRyan Perry
Sergiusz JarczykShozo MurahashiSonny Cook
Spencer ChristensenSteve GrahamThomas J.M. Burton
Tim BaverstockTom FriedelTom Tucker
Tommi LabermoToni MuellerTroy Davis
Victor NoltonWilliam Dan TerryZachary Matthews

And, of course, the entire Perl team without whom Interchange could not exist.

Site Areas

What Interchange users are saying:

“Interchange” indeed! — It has powered the Department of State’s Vienna Training Office’s database for 7 years uninterrupted.

Greg Goble, EUR/PPD-VTO

See other endorsements of Interchange.