Archive for May, 2014

Magento 2 – Time to get Behind It

Posted by: Karen Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

What’s to get Behind?

The standard joke in Magento has been around when will Magento 2 appear. Since it was first announced in 2010 there have been several false starts, partly to blame for this has been the eBay buyout of Magento, the change of CTO’s, Product Manager’s, X.commerce, and so on.  But, in my opinion it’s now time to put those jokes to bed, to get behind the team who are building Magento 2 and as a community show them our support.  I think this is especially important at this time when a lot of the development team are in the Ukraine, we need to show them we care about what they are doing, and indeed value and respect them for working on this great project.

So What is Magento 2?

When Magento 1.0 arrived back in 2008 it was a game changer. Its architecture was hard for many to understand, involved real programming, and I believe for the first time ‘professionalised’ the craft of PHP software development for the mainstream web design agency.  It brought along a fantastically extensible, innovative UI, gave the ability to cutomise it to our heart’s content and right from the start supported the ability for the community to play their part in adding functionality.

It wasn’t the Magento ecommerce product itself that was great, it was the architecture that it was built on, the framework. Because that enabled developers like myself to dream bigger dreams than the Magento team, to create beautiful sites, and craft Magento into what we wanted it to be. Collectively we all created the Magento that it is today.

So, I hear you asking, where does Magento 2 fit in? Well, when Yoav and Roy conceived Magento 1 I’m sure they didn’t anticipate the rate of growth, the usage or the demands that would be placed on the platform.  It was 2007/2008, just when the first iPhones were announced by Steve Jobs.  Things have changed.  It’s full credit to the team that created Magento 1 that it’s still thriving today. But with Magento 2 we have an opportunity to re-think, to assess the current technologies, to redo the components that cause most pain, to build a platform in 2014 that will work in 2020.

What’s our say?

When I say ‘we’ I do mean ‘we’, as I’ve said many times before, this is no longer just about Magento/eBay, it is about us all. We collectively have an amazing amount of knowledge and experience, far more than the current paid Magento team, and it’s clear to me from their actions that Magento/eBay are receptive to taking onboard our feedback, our comments. That’s not to say everything we suggest they should listen to, because they shouldn’t, they ultimately should decide, and we need to trust that.


Magento 2 can be downloaded on github today. A beta for developers is planned for Dec 2014.  This will give people time to test, create modules, themes, feedback issues, etc.

The Merchant Beta is due for middle of 2015, I suspect Magento Imagine will announce a beta customer. From then on an iterative agile release approach is proposed, with the team focused on a single set of goals, delivering those goals, then moving onto the next piece of functionality. This is a great way to run a team, and get’s my approval.

When/What to Learn?

I’ve personally shied away from getting too involved in learning Magento 2. We did an extension on it last year, didn’t find it too bad to convert, but a lot has changed since then so it seems pointless to try to keep up. What I do though, and I encourage my team to do, is:

  • read the blogs around what’s happening
  • create a default site monthly
  • browse the code
  • follow the github threads/issues
  • read up on the technologies and approaches being used

Here are a few snippets that I see cropping up lately:

  1. It is clear someone in the Ukraine has the Gang Of Four book on their desk(!), and although a tough read I’d encourage any serious programmer to obtain your own copy, its pretty much a bible amongst serious devs (and yes, I’ve read it on numerous occasions and recommend if interviewing for Goldman Sachs/ThoughtWorks!!)
  2. AOP is another term we see banded around, in laymen’s terms this is about separating out the business logic within magento (orders, checkout, customers) from the actual plumbing (e.g. transactions, authorizations), in turn extracting the parts that ‘cut across’ into separate blocks (concerns) e.g. Logging, caching, persistence
  3. Clearly having an understanding of responsive design, JQuery, CSS3 is all mandatory for you frontend folks, if you don’t know it by now, well time to switch on
  4. The Service Layer is another interesting aspect, the short version is that it’s a way of abstracting out the Model/Persistence layer from the view/controller/external api.  This allows greater modularization, a consistent and defined approach, plus hopefully stops crap being written 😉

Unit testing will be a must – see the  Magento Testing Framework, this is a big leap forwards. With Magento 2 testing is there by default and I hope/assume they will release an extensive set of unit tests, then enforce all new extensions submitted go through checks around test coverage as a minimum.  This one change will significantly increase the quality of the extension marketplace, and in turn increase the takeup of Magento2.

I’ll leave it to others to give you the detailed perspective, my point here though is that none of this is rocket science, but start learning now, as when this fully arrives you will be prepared, you will understand.


I’m encouraged by what eBay is doing, as some of you may know I don’t suffer fools gladly and I’m pleased that some of the ‘fluff’ has been removed from the Magento space. There seem to be a number of people here now who genuinly want Magento 2 to work, are passionate about it as a technology, it’s not about them trying to move their career forwards or being flashy about being the head of this that or whatever, they just believe they can do a good job and are working within a team to ensure that happens.

What’s being done here is to be commended, as the reality is that many of us rely on Magento for a good deal of our income, and really our future is in their hands to a degree (of course unless we diversify which many of us are doing). It would be easy for eBay to walk away from open source, they owe us nothing, but they haven’t, and we need to acknowledge that commitment sometimes.

To those amongst us that are ready to knock this I’d say the past is gone, people have changed, stop whining about what wasn’t done and look at what is happening now. Go contribute on github if that is your skill, go give your feedback if you are a business owner, but then support this effort, or go find somewhere else to hang your hat.  Because we have moved forwards, the train has pulled away and it’s time to go have some fun with the future!

Magento Imagine 2014 Wrap-up

Posted by: Karen Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Once again companies and individuals from around the world headed to Vegas for 4 days of Magento, networking, keynotes, casino’s and partying.  The conference moved from it’s remote M Resort location to the slightly less remote Hard Rock Hotel.  Here we mingled in with tourists, listened to crazy music blaring whilst trying to have breakfast meetings, and I’d say it generally felt a little less personal than when we literally took over the M Resort venue. But it’s location nearer to the strip was certainly welcomed, and well, its nice to have a change.

The People

The keynotes introduced some new faces, most significantly Mark Lavelle, who has a frighteningly long title of Head of Global Product and Strategy at eBay Enterprise & GM Magento. Another name for the future was Brent Peters, the CTO of eBay Enterprise.

The guest keynote speakers were of top quality once again. My particular favourite was Malcom Gladwell. Apart from the fact he spoke about shipping for a good 30 minutes (which I hope for once made it non-boring!) he brought up the argument that being disagreeable was actually a good thing. So that justified the last 20 years I’ve been in IT, finally I found someone who was telling me standing up and being counted and not worrying about what people think is a good idea!

Roy Rubin was at his last Imagine as an employee of eBay. It was certainly sad to see him go, but in a way I’m pleased we can now move on and focus on the future.

Product Highlights

CE 1.9/EE1.14 was introduced via a great video from The Buzz Lab about Classy Llama and 3M.  CE1.9 is a collaboration between Magento and Classy Llama/Brendan Falkowski

which gives us a theme with jQuery, a responsive design and CSS5 built in. It’s great to see Magento/eBay working with the community here, I’d encourage them to do this more, use the resources you have as we have the expertise, plus also the drive and passion to make things happen.

Magento 2 was discussed, and some very broad timelines given. It seems a Release Candidate may be out by March 2015, though they are taking an iterative agile approach so it sounds like some features won’t be added until Q3 2015. Magento 2 does look pretty cool tho, from my discussions I get the impression they now have a good team on this, with good overall direction and a focus on delivering a MVP as opposed to a ‘perfect solution’ (which we all know is non-achievable).  They seem to be thinking for the first time about how this will be used/extended, over and above some of the lower technological aspects that really won’t mean much to merchants/agencies/developers.

There was a fair amount of talk about Magento Enterprise and eBay Enterprise, personally I find the fact that both are called Enterprise confusing, and it seems clear where this could go. It seems eBay is building out features for eBay Enterprise, and I can see this floating down to the Magento Enterprise offering. Personally I think this will be a bad move, as the companies in the community are building far more superior offerings already, eBay should look to partner/white label rather than trying to build in house – the whole success of Magento has been built on the foundation of a community marketplace, changing that seems wrong.


The topic of the conference was ‘Transform’, so I thought I’d take a look at some of the companies there that I saw were transforming themselves.

1) Classy Llama – They are offering a ‘turnkey’ type Magento offering where you can get hosting, a default Magento platform, extensions, etc and from there adapt to create your Magento store. This is really aimed at being a beefed up Magento Go, and I have a feeling they will do it better!

2) WebShopApps – was launched at Imagine, this is a cloud based shipping rate solution encompassing the best of the WebShopApps extensions into a single cohesive solution. This was met with great feedback at Imagine and we are now working with a number of Enterprise clients doing a managed rollout of this great solution. Expect a lot more info over coming months!

3) UK company Red Box Digital won the Magento Site of the Year – Best Design award at Imagine with This is a great company WebShopApps work with a lot, congratulations to them on this well-deserved award.