Market Tree

Welcome to the blog for Market Tree, the new web site for buying and selling goods and services in the UK

Month: May, 2013

46 000 lines of code

Our buying and selling service is handled by just over 46 000 lines of computer code. This number will get larger as we add more features to our service.

“So what?” you might ask, or “Who cares?”, or even “What is code anyway?”. If you want to know what computer “code” is, then read on….

Computer code is just another name for computer commands or instructions in a computer program or application that tell a computer to do something. Below is an example of a simple computer method (a certain lump of code), written in the Java programming language, which adds up all the whole numbers from 1 to whatever number is specified.

Before you dive in, I just want to give you a very quick introduction to Java code.

  • The “//” characters are comment markers. Anything from these characters to the (right-hand) end of the line are ignored by the computer. These comments are for software developers to remind them what is going on – and here as a guide for you too.
  • The “{” and “}” brace characters group related lines of code together.
  • Most commands end with a “;” character.
  • A command like “int nSum = 0;” does two things; it declares a variable called “nSum” which stores an integer number, and then it sets this variable to store the value 0.

Okay, here’s the code:

// If n is more than zero then sum all the integers between one and n inclusive
// and return this sum.
// If n is less than or equal to zero then return zero.

public int sumWholeNumbersUpTo(int n)
{
  int nSum = 0;         // Declare and initialise our sum to zero

  int i = 1;            // Start counting from one
  while (i <= n)        // Do the next four lines if we have not finished yet
  {
    nSum = nSum + i;    // We add the value of the counter to the sum
    i = i + 1;          // We increase the counter by one
  }                     // We go back to the "while" line

  return nSum;          // Tell the outside world the result
}

If we use this code by executing the following line (of code):

  int m = sumWholeNumbersUpTo(3);

we will find that the variable m is set to 6, which is 1 + 2 + 3.

Well, how was that for you?

How many lines of code are there for the “sumWholeNumbersUpTo(…)” method? Ignoring the 3 blank lines (put in to improve readability) and the 3 lines that are just comments without any computer instructions, we have 11 lines of code. More code will be needed (at least 1 line, as we have done above to get the result of 6) to use the method to actually work values out or do other useful stuff like talk to our database or interact with service users.

The number of 46 000 lines of Market Tree code excludes over 8 000 blank lines and more than 14 000 lines of nothing but comments.

Well, we hope that you have learned something interesting today!

Advertisements

Business ethics

As the founder of Market Tree, why do I want to talk about the ethics of business?

Well, I would not be happy to promote a product or service which I did not consider to be beneficial to potential consumers. I am satisfied that our on-line trading service is a good one. It can and will be made even better but, as a former efficiency engineer, I know that anything can be improved and made better (or made cheaper instead – but that’s a value-for-money debate which we could have another time).

Just as the London Stock Exchange is ceding trade to nimbler stock exchange platforms in London that are faster and cheaper, so we offer the Market Tree on-line trading service as a simpler and cheaper service than that of the current dominant provider.

Our effective trading platform is here. I am happy to offer it and still sleep soundly at night.

Our service is released to the public

Introduction
As a Yorkshire-based high-tech E-commerce start-up company, we are proud to announce that we have launched our on-line service to challenge EBay in the UK. You can find us at MarketTree.co.uk.

We are the new web site for buying and selling goods and services between individuals and/or businesses by fixed-price and auction transactions. We are based near Doncaster Airport in South Yorkshire.

Our mission is to be the UK’s best electronic exchange for buying and selling goods and services by providing an effective, low-cost, simple-to-use marketplace for consumers, individual traders, and businesses.

The company’s service provides an alternative marketplace for those suffering from EBay’s high charges and the fear of de-registration without adequate explanation.

David and Goliath
The founder of Market Tree, Ian Marshall, says:

“What hope can a new challenger have against the established giant? Our new, nimble upstart offers innovations to improve both buyers’ and sellers’ experience of on-line trading which differentiate us from EBay.

We have a ‘no surprises’ pricing policy (so that all prices for delivered items include the cheapest delivery cost), auctions that finish 24 hours after the latest bid (there is no pre-determined cut-off time, so no need to delay bidding until the auction is about to finish), much lower fees, and a recruitment scheme that encourages users to recruit new users by giving them a share of the fees that their recruits generate.”

Different from EBay
In detail, we differ from EBay by offering the following features:

  • Our unique selling proposition of a simple “no surprises” pricing policy: free delivery
    Have you ever seen the price of something on-line and then, when just about to pay for it, a delivery or other charge appears without warning (and very annoyingly too)? Well, Market Tree insists that, where delivery is offered for an item, at least one of the delivery methods must be free. So you need not pay any extra for delivery unless you require a premium service. All the delivery options (including any additional cost for optional premium delivery) are clearly listed with each item.
  • Buy either at a fixed price or use simple, flexible bidding
    We offer fixed-price transactions. We also offer auctions – but auctions that end 24 hours after the bidding stops, not just when a given dead-line is reached. This allows users to bid daily at a time convenient to them. The minimum bidding interval is one penny, so you can bid without having to go higher than you really want to!
  • Far lower fees and charges than EBay
    The service is free for buyers and has only one charge for sellers: an item sale success fee of 2.5% of the total sale amount (including any delivery charge for optional premium delivery). Listing an item is free, so if an item does not sell there is no charge.
  • Recruitment scheme
    With our recruitment scheme, we pay you a recruitment bonus of 10% of the fees we receive for transactions where you have recruited the buyer or the seller. If you have recruited both, you get 20%! So if you like the service, get recruiting your friends, work colleagues and others.
    You also receive 10% of the recruitment bonuses paid to your recruits, so your own recruitment bonuses can build up seriously if you put your mind to it.
  • Earn money and save money in tough times
    The web site offers these ways to earn and save money:

    • earn money by selling goods or services on the web site
    • save money whilst buying when sellers, who take advantage of the market-beating low item sale success fee, pass at least some of those savings on to you
    • earn money by recruiting new active registered users of the web site.
  • PayPal freedom
    Sellers do not have to offer the PayPal payment method – it’s optional, unlike on EBay.
  • A web site that is uncluttered, easy to use, and has no advertisements
    Market Tree’s service is clear, easy to use, and simple. (Why should a service be anything else?) We do not use fancy artwork, or annoying things that pop up suddenly or flash. Also, we do not clutter things up with advertisements; the service is for our users – no one else.
  • No arbitrary de-registration
    There is no arbitrary de-registration of businesses and individual traders without good reason and adequate explanation.

Helping to re-balance the economy
Charges for using EBay in the UK are paid to EBay Europe SÀRL, which is based in Luxembourg. These charges are effectively an import from abroad.

Our (lower) charges are paid to Market Tree Ltd, which is registered in the UK. Even though we are not an exporter, buyers and sellers using us instead of EBay will help to rebalance our economy away from imports – and support home-grown jobs in the UK too.

Fair corporation tax
As a company registered abroad, EBay Europe SÀRL is unlikely to pay corporation tax to the UK government. Since Market Tree is based solely in the UK, all profits will be subject to UK corporation tax and so contribute fairly to government.

Cloud computing
The web-site-based service is run in a modern, smart way: using a cloud computing service. We have no rooms full of computer servers which need maintenance and can be affected by fire or flood. We use Google’s computer infrastructure instead. It’s like relying on your electricity company for continuous electrical power instead of operating your own generator; it’s simply more reliable that way.

Keeping costs down
By using open source computer software for developing and providing the web-based service, costs can be kept down, which is reflected in the low fees offered to sellers.

Future improvements
Ian Marshall, says:

“In the near future, we plan to improve our marketplace service by offering free on-line ‘shops’ to sellers – unlike EBay, where there is a fairly hefty charge of at least £14.99 per month. We also plan to allow users to save their item searches for later use.

Should our new marketplace expand as planned, the need will arise for additional skilled UK-based jobs – initially in computer software development. That’s got to be potential good news for our economy.

I’ve always been enthusiastic about manufacturing, which in the UK is having a tough time. I like to think of designing and developing computer software as a sort-of modern equivalent of manufacturing.

Even though we do not make objects that you can touch such as a steam engine with all its rods levers and steam hissing around the machine, there are plenty of logic “connecting rods” and “levers” in our computer programs which control the information (our equivalent of steam) as it flies around the software; you just can’t see any of them. But you can see the end result: our web site and its associated automatic services that just hum along doing what they need to do: managing items for sale, bidding and buying, sending status E-mails, calculating recruitment bonuses, and everything else.

As a country, we need to keep up with the growing electronic commerce industry to create and sustain UK-based jobs in this exciting and expanding new area.

Finally, we ask for your good wishes for our home-grown attempt to get in there and succeed. You might care to take a look at our web site – or even try us out for buying, selling or recruiting.”