What Magento Should spend some of that 250M on

Posted by: Karen Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Its 2017.

Magento 2 lets face it for many of us (probably all) has been a bit of a nightmare.  Yes there are some great things in it, its good to move onto new technologies. But oh my lord the complexity.  And the bugs (you kind of need to have been there to really appreciate this one). And the need to learn umpteen things, a lot of which are very very specific to Magento, i.e. non-transferrable.

In the last 12-18 months I’ve seen several serious size agencies get ‘burned’ by Magento. Merchants have been through a lot of pain in this transition to M2, those that have left it longer have in many cases made the right decision. And the fact remains that Magento 2 is still full of bugs, in parts totally confusing to even people like Alan Storm (where is the hope for the rest of us!), and remains a ‘work in progress’.  So my suggestion #1 to Magento is get more staff focused on fixing these bugs.  Because you sending me blogs about your ‘ideas for the future’ kind of is a bit annoying when I’m dealing with the fallout from your ‘ideas from the past’.  There is a lack of execution that needs resolution. Before you expand to Asia preferably.

I’m not sure Magento really understands how much their actions can affect companies.  Let me tell you this.  But for going cross-platform & diversifying our product range into ShipperHQ we would have had to lay off staff.  After working on Magento for 8 years 2016 was the worst year for WebShopApps on this platform, zero growth, big decline in M1 sales not matched by a rise in M2 takeup.  Looking at Alexa & from what I’ve heard this has been a similar story for other extension agencies.  We knew this was going to happen. I’m pleased we did diversify onto other platforms because basically it saved our bacon.  I’ve also heard agencies tell me similar stories, at best many have just flatlined in 2016 after years of high growth. Maybe coincidental, I don’t think so.

The effect on AheadWorks

Re the technical side of Magento there are mixed reviews. Some say its great, others hard work. Some say project times are shorter, I’ve never seen a project of any complexity that has come in faster than M1.  The learning curve is extremely steep, steeper than M1 in many ways, and although I’m being told that new PHP devs find it easier than existing Magento devs (which frankly I find a little insulting as it implies we have got stuck in our ways which Im 100% sure I’ve not), the reality is that projects are costing more, over-running and fraught with bugs. Thats a fact. So my suggestion #2 to Magento is that they need to simplify this architecture, make some serious decisions around the frontend part (as architecturally seems flawed at best to me & my colleagues).

If Magento inc want to really understand it then go write a serious extn. Not some boilerplate little piece of code. Go get a new Mac and create an environment (good luck with that) and create an extn that does something that affects the db, the view, the business logic. I’ll see you in a while. I truly think Magento forgot to think about how we would use this platform.  And for those of you developers ‘evangalising’ about how great it is – maybe it is great when its your hobby and you aren’t seriously working on it or your merchant is willing to spend a ton of money effectively training you. Go write an extn for it and try to make money from that investment of effort.  Not so easy.  The upfront training costs of staff & retooling in Magento 2 are frankly massive. Some we can take on the chin, this is technology. Some of this is ridiculous, especially the instability and complexity. Plus when Magento is unstable clients think bugs are with us, and that affects our reputation. I’m not responsible for fixing Magento, sorry I don’t have the resources to. They do.

#3 is to invest further in training content. Great strides are being made here both with docs and access to training materials. The video training is still slow IMO, they could do with taking a look at PluralSight which I believe runs the videos at a good speed to retain interest levels whilst still being able to follow.

#4 is the Marketplace. Can’t even discuss that one for fear of breaking terms of agreement (read getting utterly frustrated by many aspects of it).

My biggest single gripe with Magento is this tho.  There is a clear separation in what its telling the community and its actions.  And I’m afraid I’m no longer on board with promoting this platform in terms of community spirit. They speak of ‘We Are Magento’ and I personally love the work of people like Sherrie and Ben. But I’m concerned that they are using this community when underneath what is happening is deals are being made that shut out the very community that helped build Magento to where it is today (not last year, today). Magento have the proof – the Forrester Report stated that what made Magento was its community.  Well this community actually needs money in order to survive, if you shut that tap off then there is no community.  I think that is being forgotten, because releasing a ‘platform in progress’ really really hurt many of us. Yet you are asking me to help fix it. And making deals to white label solutions and/or building partnerships which exclude the rest of us by putting software in the core and making that your main promotion – well I can’t support that, its in conflict of your message of ‘We Are Magento’. IMO We are Magento whilst it suits Magento and then its thanks very much I’m now Magento you can sod off.  Well I walk away from that principle, morally, for my staff, my company and my clients both agencies and merchants. Do not play with us. Work with us and appreciate us, then we will appreciate & invest in you.  I respect many individuals in the company of Magento. I will no longer play along with your game.

So suggestion #5 is  make your actions speak louder than your words. Because I’ve lost trust. And thats why we have refused to become a Select Partner with Magento in 2017 after many years of Gold/Platinum Partnership. We are making our future now, outside the moving unknown foundation which is Magento. Its a shame, we had Magento in our blood, now its one of many platforms for us. Maybe we are getting older, I prefer to say we are growing up.

My philosophy in life is never ever forget where you came from or what made you what you are. I’ll never pretend to be something I’m not, and I’ll always stand up for the small guy. I hope you do too.



Come see us over at ShipperHQ. Highly successful product that is making waves in the shipping technology space with its very unique offering.  We have all your shipping rating & checkout needs covered, and no we don’t print labels (you need ShipStation for that one). We also have the most advanced shipping extension for Magento 2 on the market today, complete with support for over 30 carriers, Store Pickup and Delivery Date with Calendar logic built in.

18 Responses to “What Magento Should spend some of that 250M on”

  1. Really interesting article – I fully agree with all your points. I am finding a gorwing intensity in the annoyance of agencies / devs / merchants who have made the leap onto Magento2; hailed as production ready, but far far from it.

    Will be interesting to see what this cash injection does – maybe the dropping of a Community Edition and solely focusing on the Enterprise market perhaps….

  2. #1 How many people are dedicated to fixing bugs? How many more would help? #2 I agree with this but is it realistic right now? #3 OMG YES #4 Not sure about this one. This is so subjective I don’t know how you can even address this. What it means to you is different than what it means to someone else. #5 Agree 100%

  3. Juan Antonio Navarro Jiménez says:

    Solve the fu… security holes.

  4. Yuri says:

    Great article! Praying for change here

  5. Andre says:

    Hi there,

    totally agree in most points!

    I also started a conversation with Alen from the magento team:

    If you could let your feedback there maybe it is helpful.

  6. I can physically feel your pain Karen as I read those line. We have been down that same exact road before. As a purely service-based company, we were among the first ones to get hit by the M2 train, within the first few months after the ‘grande release’ we onboarded a client that could possibly become the biggest project we’ve had and that we lost miserably to a bunch of insurmountable bugs which at some point became a surreal never-ending farce. Bugs which made it technically impossible to put up a v2.0.0 Magento store unless it was a fresh installation. Bugs which we later on found explicitly documented on the official bug tracker and which took almost 5 months to get fixed.

    It was becoming more and more obvious that the ‘release’ was nothing more than a real-world beta test, but somehow it wasn’t about quality assurance any more, it was real businesses, real people and real money they were playing with. I suddenly found myself advising clients old & new against taking a look in the M2 direction, especially since it was not offering – and still hardly is – any edge over M1. Let’s face it, M2 is overly complicated, it’s a new backend template, new layout – but is it faster? Superior in marketing and reporting? Easier to manage? Above all – does it help generate more revenue? Sadly, no – at least its Community version.

    I feel like they took a very wrong turn with M2 which – as I think of it – is purely terrifying as vendors like us are largely dependent exclusively on the platform success. Let’s hope that quarter of a billion will suffice to double the Ukrainian team and rethink the platform from the ground up. I don’t think our expectations are too high right now, they could start by making M2 usable.

  7. Kevin Javitz says:

    Thanks for your post – it is the most strongly worded opinion piece from a very respectable company that I have read.

    The part I most agree with is the economic difficulties. People are not buying M1 extensions waiting for M2, but M2 is really not fully formed yet. Add to that the high cost (Took more time to “transfer” our M1 extensions to M2 than to write from scratch our M1 extensions). For us – income is down right now 50% on M1 extensions.

    And the marketplace which we won’t be a part of as how can we justify 30% off the top of all the extensions we sell? I’m surprised not to see any opinion pieces on that anywhere. I think it’s a bit different for iOS apps or stuff like that where the model makes more sense. There is not tons of support to deal with as you install the app and it will just work since there is not customization involved. But M2 is going to have lots of support issues.

  8. Magento, I hope you are listening.

  9. Paul Byrne says:

    I have a dog in this fight… had to join the fray! My response is too long to post here, so, I wrote an article on our blog. Enjoy!

  10. #4 caller says:

    Hiw can you not talk about #4 without breaking Terms if Agreement? If youre un the USA, any clause forbidding you to express yourself was made null and void Jan 1st this year, so speak up and if they try to punish you can sue the crap out of them.

  11. Bill Tarbell says:

    EX-MAGENTO guy here. I have a different perspective. I’m no longer an employee with Magento but I would argue their intentions are pure and their strategy is warranted given the state of the competitve market. I’m at WebLinc Commerce Platform now (SASS, rails, mongodb, modern and growing partners fast..) but I know firsthand the folks at Magento are solid and well-meaning. Magento is surely the leader when it comes to developer adoption. No question. However, at a certain point this massive adoption has become their Achilles’ heal. They’re faced with a real dilema: how to innovate while preserving the legacy knowledge and customers? I assume they care a LOT about the community. Actually, I know they do. Respectfully, questioning their motives here is a misread. The fact is, our customers (the digital retailers) are fighting every day in an Amazon-ian world. We live in an ULTRA-COMPETITIVE commerce platform vendor market. The “community” is definitely a force multiplier for Magento. But it’s also an impediment to innovation. Make a core change? Massive Magento devs need re-education. Add features customer want and NEED? Partners get pissed. This is my friends’ struggle. At WebLinc, we ID’d this structural market issue early on and are focused on offering a platform that EVOLVES with he market and focuses on the teams that drive dollars at our commerce customers. Karen, check us out. We’re the underdogs $$$-wise but we’d love to chat and we’re always eager to be compared with Magento! – @billtarbell

  12. Asrar says:

    Really mind blowing article here, thumbs up Karen.

    I have been with M1 for few years as backend dev and grasping the new technology models for M2. It’s mixed feeling as learning existing platform with injection of new technologies causing a bit of effort keep up with two platforms. Given that, M2 suddenly wants to utilise all new technologies for backend and frontend. To me, Magento should not consider the dev community as customers or clients. You can not just give us something what you think is appropriate, without considering real world development for clients. This is a killer approach in ecommerce development industry. You can’t roll like Apple. You need to work with us to understand what our clients require. I totally agree with Karen try setting up few dev environment with Mac using vagrent. The process is not so straight forward. It might be cool for us backend devs but not all our frontend devs would appreciate it. Also the request flow also not that straight forward as per the controllers concrened. Again, while developing modules, we don’t expect to fix your bugs as this cost on clients.
    A suggestion for Magento team would be to make the M2 stable like Sylius then reassure merchants to move towards it. Because as it stands, clients seemed to understand M2 as a stable platform already, which truly is not though.

  13. Hat-tip, Karen, for writing this article. As we can see, the concerns are reflected across many replies, and while not everyone agrees 100% with everything here, there is substance and fact to your raised points/suggestions.

    I know you’ve asked me about how M2 was working out for our agency (a small Pro partner in small NZ) and I reflected the experience as you have outlined in this post. We’ve seen significant stagnation in new business in 2016, having not taken on one single new build even though there were inquiries. We’ve undertaken 2 M2 re-developments for existing clients, completing one thus far with a very dismal outcome. Our client, once happy and impressed by our services, has been very disappointed with the end result of their, higher than expected investment and our reputation with this client has suffered significantly. In their words, ‘this has been a stupidly costly exercise and things are still not working correctly’. We had to reassure them that the whole M2 community is struggling with the same issues and that their situation is not unique, pleading sympathy and patience and applying M2 updates for free as they come out. We literally lost money on this project (we calculated this at our labour rate at COST) in ADDITION to spending over 1000h of M2 dev training (7 devs) earlier in 2016.

    The mentioned inquiries were presented cost estimates for building on M2 and all of them went on to more cost effective solutions on other platforms (or cheaper Magento cowboys). We’ve seen our M2 cost estimates go up by at least 30% across the board.

    Re, extensions, in our one build we’ve constrained ourselves to 3-4 extensions and, as you point out, all of them had issues. Some were fixed by the manufacturer promptly but some are still faulty and we can’t get any traction on updates. This does not give us confidence in our proposals and, in fact, currently we are more worried than happy about the prospect of a new M2 build. Yet, as responsible partners, we simply cannot suggest new M1 builds as outlined by Paul Byrne from Razoyo here: https://www.razoyo.com/blog/2017/01/07/2017-starts-rage-apologies-magento-2/

    This is far from ideal if Magento partners are to stay in business and keep supporting the growth of the Magento platform.

    We too have been considering diversifying our platform support but given our investment in Magento and the alternatives in the market, we are still quite reluctant. We like Magento but also need to survive as a business.

    What should happen among other things is that Magento should review the M2 builds to date with their partner agencies and produce some kind of risk register advising partners and the community about which areas and types of builds have major issues and potential show-stoppers. For example, multi-site builds appear to be at much higher risk than single site. Also, any migration (from M1 to M2) activity caries significant risks. I’m sure that there are other idiosyncrasies that can be outlined. At least with a risk sheet in hand, agencies and merchants can decide whether they are prepared to take the plunge or wait.

    In any case, opening this conversation is a starting point. I hope this gains momentum and our confidence in M2 is not eroded any further.

  14. Sven Geiss says:

    I totally agree with all points. I think success for the Magento(2) community is only possible trough simplyfying. We all should set the focus on making things easier, for the devs, merchants and thus for the end customer.

    As a CE developer, developing for Magento2 is the opposite of easy. Of course one big portion of that opposite is because we need to learn new technology, which is not bad, but the other part is these diversity on how certain things are implemented.

    As an example, if I want to create a simple attribute for the customer address entity and show a form element in different forms accross the shop, I currently need to create a ton of different php, js, xml, phtml and html files with specific functions and purpose, for in the end, just saving and reading a value (of one core model) in the database. Another good description of this issue is: http://oyenetwork.com/wp//wp-content/uploads/2015/09/meme.jpg from http://oyenetwork.com/articles/magento2-devliery-date-module-creation-from-scratch/
    And not that this requirement was easier to solve with Magento1, it was nearly the same situation, but now the complexity has increased.

    But there is hope 🙂 If we look back in the past years of Magento development, the early versions were full of bugs which got fixed and the platform improved very good in this time. In the end I think we need to give Magento2 the time to evolve.

  15. Shara Jones says:

    Great resource! I agree with your #5 suggestion for the magento which need to spend some the 250M on fixing their users needs. Nice research Karen!

  16. Daniel says:

    As someone in both camps – I am both the client and the IT – I have been shocked at the number of bugs there are in Magento 2 (even on 2.1.7) and the slow resolution times to resolve them even when they are acknowledged. Quick background: I am an IT Project Manager (with alot of experience working for major retailers) and am starting my own online retail company.

    I am no stranger to bugs but some just seem to be so major that I don’t understand how they haven’t been fixed immediately after being acknowledged. For example, the slow checkout page issue is a showstopper which has been known since the release of Ver 2 and yet we are now at 2.1.7 without it being fixed. I have personally fixed it via code changes (thanks to GitHub) but it should not have been needed. How does a major ecommerce platform release something which causes slow checkout times??? It’s a customer and sales killer! To me it says Magento is run by IT people who are not true retailers. Which explains why it was so easy for Shopify to grow so quickly and eat into Magento’s market share.

    With competitors such as Spotify making major gains on share of the market I see a situation within 2-3 years where Magento is no longer No 1. When I was originally looking for the right ecommerce platform for my business I compared many platforms and Magento ended up on top however if I had known about the issues with the platform I would have made a different decision.

    What I would say to you frustrated developers and partners of Magento as someone who is outside of that ecosystem and am purely looking at this as an end consumer (i.e. the retailer that runs his store on this platform) is that you should be enacting Plan B’s and looking at how you diversify and support other platforms (particularly those that make it easy for non-IT people to get their stores up and running). I now have a Plan B to move off the platform in 2-3 years if the bug-release situation does not improve as I am not at all confident of Magento’s future in the long term.

  17. elfling says:

    Karen, we crossed paths once upon a time in the early days of Magento 1 and I admire where you took your company.

    I find it difficult to persuade clients to move away from their stable M1 builds and say “exciting times ahead, we get to go back to the good old days of searching forums for solutions or slogging through code base to figure out what the heck is up”.

    It’s a shame M2 came down to a crossroad, when really it should have been a bridge. Perhaps likened to upgrading from 1.3 to 1.4 :D, preserving data at all possible turns. Data is after all is big business.

    M1 was a community that got pretty beaten up over the years, but still managed to pull through to make it what it is. As a whole, Magento and most other platforms as a whole have pretty basic functionality and rely on them being improved on by the community. But if there is no take up of M2, then there is no community development and just rehashes of the same extensions (but at higher prices).

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