PayPal Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools

PayPal Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools

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If you've bought or sold items through eBay, or through hundreds of other online sites, then you're familiar with PayPal, the online payment service. With PayPal, a valid email address, and a credit card or bank account, you can easily send and receive payments online. Not a bank or financial institution itself, PayPal describes its service as one that builds on the financial infrastructure of bank accounts and credit cards, and using advanced propriety fraud prevention systems, creates a safe, global, real-time payment solution. Put simply, PayPal provides the means for people to conduct financial transactions online, instantly and securely.But there's more to PayPal than meets the eye. PayPal Hacks shows you how to make the most of PayPal to get the most out of your online business or transactions. Authors Shannon Sofield of and PayPal evangelist David Nielsen guide you through the rigors of using and developing with PayPal. Whether you're building an ecommerce site using PayPal as a transaction provider, or simply trying to pay for an eBay auction without getting burned, PayPal Hacks will give you the skinny on this leading global online payment service.The collection of tips and tricks in PayPal Hacks shows you how to find or even build the right tools for using PayPal to buy and sell on eBay or as a transaction provider for ecommerce on your own site. Written for all PayPal users, from those just starting out to those developing sophisticated ecommerce sites, this book begins with the basics such as setting up your account, then moves quickly into specific tips and tools for buyers, sellers, and developers.With PayPal Hacks, you can:

  • Learn extra steps to help protect yourself while buying or selling on eBay
  • Save time and money with advanced tips and undocumented features
  • Learn dozens of easy-to-follow procedures to help you request and receive payments and fill orders
  • Use PayPal to handle subscriptions, affiliate systems, and donations
  • Create and customize your customers' checkout process
  • Effortlessly integrate PayPal's shopping cart system into your own website
  • Implement digital fulfillment with Instant Payment Notification (IPN) and Payment Data Transfer (PDT)
  • Develop and distribute ecommerce applications with the PayPal API
Each hack consists of a task to be accomplished or a creative solution to a problem, presented in a clear, logical, and task-oriented format. PayPal Hacks provides the tools and details necessary to make PayPal more profitable, more flexible, and more convenient.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780596552961
Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/07/2004
Series: Hacks
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 370
Sales rank: 571,492
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Shannon Sofield is the personification of a hack, he takes anything that is supposed to do one thing, and manipulates it to serve his own purposes, both in his life as a developer and his life in general. If it was supposed to do one thing originally, he probably has it doing something entirely different instead.

Shannon began creating PayPal solutions more than 3 years ago using his original database driven PayPal purchase system that integrated with Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev. Since then, he has gone on to work on implementing unique fixes for common eCommerce problems using PayPal. He has written several tutorials and articles, as well as spoken on the topic of using PayPal in new ways. One of the first members of the PayPal Developer Network, he was added to the PayPal Developer Network Advisory Boards on its inception. He also served several terms as a member of Team Macromedia for their web development program Dreamweaver which he uses in his daily PayPal development. His technical background extends back to the initial Internet boom when he began picking up simple web design that evolved into web planning and programming using a variety of technologies, languages, and databases.

Currently, he manages the PayLoadz Digital Goods eCommerce system that allows merchants to sell digital goods securely with PayPal. One of the first and most successful 3rd party solutions for PayPal, this system made headlines when it launched Madonna's American Life single higher on the Billboard music charts than any previous digital single (and he did it before selling digital music was cool). In addition, he continually contributes to the PayPal Developer Network Message Boards ( which his company, Superfreaker Studios, hosts and maintains.

While not slogging through code at his computer in a caffeinated, sleep-deprived state, Shannon enjoys outdoor activities that fit the time of year. In the Summer he surfs and volunteers for the surfboard manufacturer Wave Riding Vehicles, while in Winter, he can be found on the slopes working on his kicker spins. Year round, he can be found reliving his BMX days on his 24 GT cruiser. Shannon's undergraduate studies majored in Finance and Accounting, while his Maters in Business Administration includes a concentration in Finance. Ctrl+C is his best friend

Dave Nielsen is a Technical Evangelist within the PayPal Developer Network, a member of SDForum's Executive Council and the founder of the Web Services SIG of Silicon Valley. Dave has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Cal Poly: San Luis Obispo. Armed with an education in engineering and marketing, as well as many technical certifications and real world experience, Dave has both the technical skills and business savvy to give him insight into emerging technologies and trends.

As a technical trainer in the early 90's Dave taught classes in languages such as Visual Basic and SQL. Dave was an early Internet programming enthusiast and found himself hounding Microsoft for data-driven web developer tools. After discarding Microsoft's first two efforts (dbWeb and IDC) and taking a chance on early beta versions of IIS and Active Server Pages, Dave became one of the first technical trainers certified to teach the now popular ASP technology.

At PayPal Dave focuses his efforts on creating tools that help developers create ecommerce websites. Some of these projects include the Payment Request Wizard, the JavaScript Button Factory and the PayPal Commerce Starter Kit. Dave is cursed with more than one new product idea every day, but is always available to debate the latest technologies and how well they will be adopted.

Dave can be found online at, at conferences and "competing" in an occasional triathlon. At home, his girlfriend tries to stop him from selling everything he owns on eBay.

Dave Burchell got his start with computers by programming the Radio Shack TRS-80 in BASIC and the Commodore 64 in 6510 assembly. Currently, Dave's favorite programming languages are Perl and XSLT. A fervent proponent of XML, Dave enjoys solving content-management problems with markup and open source software. His other interests include American history and Hellenistic philosophy. Dave lives with his wife, Renee, and children, Max, Gus, and Samantha Grace, in Lincoln, Nebraska. His web site is

Table of Contents

Chapter 1.Account Management1
1.Create a PayPal Account2
2.Verify Your PayPal Account4
3.Confirm Your Mailing Address6
4.Pay When You've Forgotten Your Password9
5.Restore Your Account if It Has Been Limited11
6.Create a Separate Login for Each Employee14
7.Access Member Information17
8.Manage PayPal Email20
9.Get Help from PayPal25
Chapter 2.Making Payments28
10.Send Money to Anyone29
11.Choose How to Fund Payments31
12.Use Your PayPal Funds Anywhere35
13.Pay from a Cell Phone37
14.Pay Seller Fees when Buying40
15.Send Money Without Creating a PayPal Account42
16.Dispute Merchandise Payments47
Chapter 3.Selling with PayPal52
Upgrade to Business Class53
Set Your Payment Receiving Preferences54
Identify Yourself to Your Customers57
17.Request Money the PayPal Way58
18.Ask for Money in Your Own Way62
19.Request Money Without an Account64
20.Get Your Money65
21.Refund a Payment71
22.Quick-Link to Transaction Details72
23.Lower Your Seller Fees74
24.Protect Yourself from Buyer Fraud78
25.Protect Yourself from Chargebacks80
26.Avoid Chargebacks on Digital Goods87
27.Handle Merchandise Disputes Effectively88
Chapter 4.Payment Buttons90
28.Create a Buy Now Button92
29.Use a Custom Button Image96
30.Create a Purchase Button for Services98
31.Create an Auction Payment Button98
32.Provide Purchase Options with Drop-Down Listboxes102
33.Include More Than Two Option Fields104
34.Override Shipping and Handling Preferences107
35.Build Notification Tracking108
36.Hack-Proof Your Payment109
37.Hack-Proof Your Buttons with Encryption113
38.Include Payment Buttons in Email Messages118
39.Hide Your Email Address from Spammers125
40.Accept Donations126
41.PayPal-Enable Your Flash131
42.Get More Out of Dreamweaver and PayPal139
43.Provide Options with ASP.NET Web Controls141
44.Try Accepting Payments in a Bogus Currency146
Chapter 5.Storefronts and Shopping Carts147
45.Hack Shopping Cart Buttons147
46.Create Shopping Cart Links150
47.Specify the Size of the Shopping Cart Window151
48.Deal with Design and Layout Issues153
49.Put Both Cart Buttons in One Form154
50.Integrate a Third-Party Shopping Cart with PayPal155
51.Customize Checkout Pages160
52.Display the Merchant Transaction ID on Your Return Page164
53.Remember Your Customers165
54.Create a Dynamic Storefront168
55.Add Dynamic Storefront Details172
56.Insert Dynamic Images176
57.Build an Order-Tracking Page179
58.Offer Discount Coupons181
59.Increase Search Engine Exposure185
60.Sell Digital Goods with PayLoadz187
Chapter 6.Managing Subscriptions190
61.Sell Subscriptions to Your Online Content191
62.Offer Tiered Subscriptions195
63.Time Your Subscriptions to End on Specific Dates200
64.Manage Subscription Passwords the Easy Way203
Chapter 7.IPN and PDT210
What IPN and PDT Are210
How IPN Works211
Advantages of PDT212
65.Receive Instant Payment Notifications212
66.Troubleshoot Instant Payment Notifications215
67.Send a Purchase Confirmation Email with IPN218
68.Process Shopping Carts with IPN220
69.Use IPN with eBay Listings221
70.Track Your eBay Products with IPN223
71.Deliver Digital Goods with IPN225
72.Deliver Digital Goods with a Return Page227
73.Implement Price Checking with IPN230
74.Provide an Order Summary with IPN234
75.Upsell Your Customers236
76.Enable Multiple IPN Pages238
77.Use Mass Pay to Create an Affiliate System239
78.Manage Your Inventory with IPN243
79.Display Donation Goals on Your Web Site246
80.Display a Recent Donor List249
81.Capture Customer Information with IPN252
82.Insert Payment Details into a Database with IPN254
83.Insert Cart Details into a Database256
84.Track Google Referrals258
85.Process Payments like a Credit Card with PDT262
86.Synchronizing PDT and IPN268
Chapter 8.The PayPal Web Services API271
Introduction: Create a Developer Account272
87.Set up the Sandbox274
88.Make Your First API Call279
89.Create a Wrapper Class for Your API Calls285
90.Use the PayPal API Wrapper Class289
91.Refund Payments with the API292
92.Handle Transaction Errors within the API Wrapper296
93.Retrieve Transaction Details with the API298
94.Search for PayPal Transactions301
95.Hack the API Wrapper306
96.Issue Payments en Masse with the Mass Pay API314
97.Pay Affiliates and Suppliers on a Schedule316
98.Search eBay for Listings that Accept PayPal319
99.Test IPN and PDT in the Sandbox323
100.Go Live324

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PayPal Hacks 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Paypal has been one of the few successful ideas on the Web. Ranking with Amazon, eBay and Yahoo. So much so that eBay bought Paypal in its entirety a few years ago. Since then, as the authors show in several hacks, Paypal is now deeply embedded into eBay as a very convenient payment scheme. A few hacks show how to use Paypal from the standpoint of a single user. But a broader lesson of this book is that the integration of Paypal into eBay is by no means exclusive. If you maintain your own website and want to sell items on it, that have absolutely nothing to do with auctions, then many hacks discuss how to use Paypal to facilitate this. Including integrating third party shopping carts with it. Indeed, there is an entire chapter devoted to these tasks. Also, the authors describe how even if you are competing in the online auction space with eBay, you can still use Paypal. It appears that eBay is going to careful lengths to have Paypal treat its merchants equally. Certainly, the authors point out that Paypal is used with eBay's main competitors' auctions, like uBid, Yahoo and Amazon. Reassuring if you have a small operation and are contemplating Paypal.
glassich on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent resource for anyone who would like to sell their wares or services using PayPal. O'Reilly has done an excellent job with the Hacks series in general and this book is no exception. The book contains many useful tips & tricks for anyone wishing to use Paypal as their main e-commerce solution. I really recommend this book for anyone who is serious about selling their wares over PayPal.