AOL Using Ubercart for Digital Products

Well, it was cool to see AOL Corporate pop up on Dries' blog as yet another company using Drupal (yacud, anyone?). What I didn't notice at the time was that AOL has also chosen to use Ubercart to "sell" digital goods, presumably for press related use. Fortunately, I found this out through a thread on d.o and quickly hopped over to test it out.

I quoted "sell" because AOL isn't actually charging a price for the materials, but they're making creative use of Ubercart to track who is requesting materials and what items they get from the site. They have a simple setup where links through the Media Gallery section of the site lead to various product nodes created by Ubercart.

They're taking advantage of the file download product feature to associate different .zip files containing the media and license information with the format you select (see an example). This is a cool feature in Ubercart that lets you do things like use the same product node to sell files of different formats or even to let the customer choose between a physical/digital version of the product (like a CD vs. mp3 download).

Checkout is a simple trimmed down affair that just requires an e-mail address. They're using our anonymous checkout system so that Ubercart creates a new user account upon completion and then associates the files "purchased" with that account. The files are then available through the user's account page or through a secure link sent out in an e-mail. Shawn coded in some nice restrictions for downloads like limitations based on IP, time, and number of downloads which are essential when actually selling downloads.

Pretty cool stuff, and I'm glad to see it's getting around!


Hey Ryan,

That's great to see AOL using Ubercart. In the Ubercart forums, we've discussed including a $0 payment method for awhile (so products can be free without needing credit card info), but it looks like AOL got around this by disabling most of the checkout altogether. For the rest of us who do want to sell products alongside free oes, however, that $0 payment method is needed.

In any event, I just wanted to highlight the fact that the AOL example is another great use-case that demonstrates the need for the $0 payment method. I think if we included the $0 payment method in Ubercart core, we'd find a lot of people using Ubercart in really creative ways for registration, download tracking, and marketing. I'd use it myself for our own press releases and materials. So hopefully you, Andy, Lyle, and Shawn can give the $0 payment method a little consideration when you have the time.

As always, thanks for the great work!

Here's a thought... a module can define a product feature that designates a product as a freebie. If all the items in a cart are freebies, it just doesn't show the payment method pane at all. Hiding checkout panes would be a simple matter of using hook_form_alter() to remove them from the checkout form. This won't solve the case where a gift certificate or something drops the total down to 0, but it could solve a majority of the cases where folks wanna sell freebies. Thoughts? Puzzled

Ryan, I think the product feature path is a good route for this, but after starting work there I ran into the issue of a cart containing both free and priced items. I thought maybe a couple new hooks could get me around the issues I was having with this type of checkout, but the topic seemed to fade.

I myself am looking for exactly this feature but as per the previous post I have the requirement for both free and priced items. I am quite new to drupal and would welcome any advice on how it might be possible to produce this.