Magento 2 – The Roadmap in Merchant Language

Posted by: Karen Friday, January 16th, 2015

We have been getting a lot of calls from Merchants who are confused by the timings around Magento 2, so I’ve decided to put together this blog. To be clear, this is the WebShopApps perspective and is not the official source of information.  If you want greater detail then go take a look at Magento’s Chief Architect’s Alan Kent’s blog on this, where he looks at it from more of a technical perspective. I’m not aware of any official Magento marketing on Magento 2 with such information, but if anyone has please feel free to add to the comments.

What is Magento 2?

Magento 2 is the much talked about follow up product to Magento 1 (which was initially released back in 2007/8).  Magento 1.x has been an highly successful product, and continues to be so, we see clients daily moving to the Magento platform or upgrading their sites.

Magento 2 is intended to be a product that will serve the eCommerce space for the next few years (4-5 I would expect). Since 2008 lots of technologies have improved or changed. Merchants themselves are demanding more and more functionality as they too evolve and grow.

So it’s necessary sometimes to do a major product upgrade to bring those new capabilities in.

Magento 2 is what you could call a product refresh, though its fair to say it will still have many of the great features and underlying architecture that Magento 1.x has. You would hope improving on some of the areas where there are problems, in particular, extension conflicts, performance, code quality, etc. And of course updating to the current technologies where possible (and where it is not possible to do without a complete refresh).

So Where are we Now?

In December 2014 the Developer Beta was released. This is an incomplete release (payment has been removed) so even if you wanted to deploy it you couldn’t. In my opinion Magento have released this to achieve the following:

  1. Get it in the hands of the developers within the Magento ecosystem so they can get familiar with it
  2. Get feedback on the implementation from the ecosystem
  3. Allow early access and visibility as its taken so long to get this far (hey its now a reality!!), this allows the ecosystem to start their own planning
  4. Breakdown and Solidify their own planning – now they have released a timeline and we can see they are hitting it they have more of a push to continue to deliver

What’s the Upcoming Roadmap

At end of Q1 2015 we go into a Developer Release Candidate. What this means is that the architecture and general code should be stable by then, so really the changes after would be new features, stability/bug fixing.  A merchant is not affected by this.

In Q3 2015 we enter Merchant Beta. Its my guess at this time we will get a release that can be deployed to a live site in theory.  It will not be a 2.0 release, more likely still a beta release or a Release Candidate.

At end of 2015 Magento 2 will be fully released (this is what I would call the 2.0 release). So from start of 2016 in theory you will see sites live.

When will it be ready for Merchants?

So to summarise, end of year in theory as a Merchant you could go onto Magento 2.  So when do you do it?

Well I think there are 2 schools of thought here:

1) Go early – So start in Sept/Oct 2015 with a view to first launch from Feb onwards in 2016

2) Wait for the dust to settle – So start in May/June 2016

When I say ‘start’ here I mean starting on development/implementation. Now there will always be people that start very early, and those that leave for 3 years or more, so this is just a general guideline for those considering their options. But this is how I would see it.

I personally think a lot of the extension companies will take 2-3 months to really get their extensions sorted for Magento 2, though some will come out of the gate sooner, I think by Feb 2016 a lot of key extensions will be available (but maybe not that tiny one that you so crucially rely on).

The Web Design Agencies are so busy that I expect them to run a little behind and only start to get involved in understanding Magento 2 when merchants are pounding on the door asking, so the Merchants will really lead there (though at the top end of the market you will see the agencies actively putting resources on learning it, not so much in the mid/bottom).

When Would I move to Magento 2?

Some of you may know my husband was a small merchant, which is how I got involved in Magento in the first place. If I was him then I’d look to switch when I felt like my site was in need of a renewal and it was summer 2016 or later.

If I had an Enterprise site and had some pretty big issues with my current site I might take an early run at it, otherwise Oct/Nov this year I think is a good time to start (assuming a 4-6 month project).

Where does this leave Magento 1?

Well, this is obviously subjective, but it’s my opinion that Magento 1 will continue to run for a couple of years after Magento 2 is released, though I don’t expect agencies offering major new development on it after Summer 2016. So effectively it will go into maintenance.  Many companies, including WebShopApps plan to support Magento 1 into probably around 2018, thats a fair way off.

Should you wait then for Magento 2?

If you have an older Magento 1.x site you are probably wondering if you should wait for Magento 2. This is a difficult question to answer, because really it depends on your circumstances.  Magento 1.x has vastly improved over the past couple of years, especially around the responsive elements which open up the opportunities around mobile/tablet space.

If you are not mobile ready (i.e. have a responsive theme) then moving to 1.9 Magento CE would be no bad thing (or clearly the 1.14 Enterprise Edition if you are in that band).  You will see an immediate upturn, the facts on this are very clear.  Likewise if you are having problems with your current site, or you need a design refresh because this will bring revenue benefits then I would recommend you upgrade.

It is my personal and professional view that Magento 1 is the most flexible, extensible eCommerce platform that is available today. I firmly believe this will also be the defacto commerce platform for the next 4-5 years. By getting on Magento in 1.x you will be putting yourself on the right environment to go forwards with, and the migration to 2.x will be much easier for you as you would have done a lot of the leg work already with integrations into your current processes, etc.

We are seeing demand this January like never before for Magento, it’s clear there is a very healthy ecosystem out there which is growing daily.  On 1.x you probably won’t need to upgrade until 2017/2018 if you develop it correctly.  And developers will be supporting Magento 1 for some time, so you will not be left with an unsupported platform.

Magento is not all things to all men, no platform is, these are the choices you make, and I cannot and do not want to sway that. We have some clients for whom Shopify or BigCommerce is a better choice, but generally my feeling is that right now with some tweaks Magento has the ability to serve clients right from the Mom&Pop stores upto the Enterprise level sites for many years to come.

And in Conclusion

There are no right or wrong answers here, but hopefully this gives you some food for thought.

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