Getting started with a super simple PayPal shop on a flat HTML site.

Seems to me there are two ways to go:

1. Use PayPal's button generator
You follow their instructions and they'll generate a button for you. The button will have a 13 digit code which identifies your item's details. You paste that into your HTML.

2. Submit your own form to PayPal
You copy the nuts and bolts of the PayPal form as above, but you haven't gone via their generator so there's no 13 digit code. You have to pass through the item details (in the form of item_name, business and amount fields). The business field is your email address in plain text.

In both cases you're submitting to https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr

Is that a fair summary?

I can see that the advantages of method 1 are:

  1. Your business/email address doesn't have to be in plain view client side

  2. User can't change the price/item details client side

  3. PayPal is making some sensible default decisions about currency etc that you don't have to worry about.

Also, w3d's comment in this answer is that using PayPal's button is "more secure". In what way it's "more secure" isn't specified.

However the advantage of method 2 is that you generate all your own HTML form code and if you've got dozens of products it's much easier and more flexible not to have to labour through PayPal's generator button by button (I know they let you create a new button from existing, but that's still slow). Basically you don't need to duplicate your inventory inside PayPal's site.

Is there anything else fundamental that we're missing, because right now we're minded to go with method two for the sake of speed, flexibility and manageability.

2 Answers 2


I've tended towards method 2 for another reason that you did not list. That being that the person writing the code for method 2 does not need to have access to the PayPal account in order to generate new buttons. In PayPal-connected sites I've managed, the programmer and the "finance manager" are not the same person and it's much more convenient to give the programmer full control over buttons than force them to ask for and wait for the "finance manager" to generate it. Sounds like this may not be an issue for your site, but you may want to think about how many people will be working on the project down the road.


Also, when you create a button using PayPal's interface they also give you an email link for the button in a second tab at the end. This link can be put into any <a href="">. This means you can use your own button instead of theirs. Your button can better match your site design, and you'll avoid using their table-based layout button code. However, the look of the PayPal button itself carries some clout.

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