Magento – Revolutionary eCommerce for Small Biz
“Open Source eCommerce Has Officially Evolved” was boldly declared on a blog post announcing the release of Magento version 1.0.
Since 1997 I have worked on a variety of eCommerce systems and for the last several months have been working with Magento. While Magento is very new and lacks the maturity of some of the more established eCommerce solutions, I do agree that Magento has taken open source eCommerce to the next level.
Here are the top 4 reasons why I feel Magento has changed the game:
- Solid Business Model for Free Software
- Gifted Designer in Development Team
- Incredible Community Outreach
- Brilliant Framework Under The Hood
Solid Business Model
Many open source projects start off with a bang and fizzle out. If the backbone of the project depends on a few passionate developers donating their time with no financial incentive, their commitment to the project is often unsustainable.
The company behind the Magento project, Varien, has setup several ways to monetize their open source project.
- Professional Services (installs, customizations, etc.)
- Commercial Support
- Commercially licensed extensions that offer new functionality.
- Certified Partners Program (other companies pay annual fees to be listed as an offical partner)
Varien CEO Roy Rubin says “Magento is at the core of Varien’s business model”. This statement suggests longevity and stability for the Magento project, critical factors that potential users look for before investing time in an open source project.
By having a for-profit company back the open source project, developers are guaranteed paychecks and have access to resources that other commercial development teams have. This allows them to release commercial quality software without charging for licenses.
Drop-dead gorgeous graphic desgin.
The most obvious way Magento has set itself apart from other open source eCommerce projects is the drop-dead gorgeous graphic design.
Most open-source projects looks like the interface was designed by an engineer for other engineers. Magento made the right move by making talented designer Minu an integral part of the development team.
Check out the beautiful screenshots at http://www.magentocommerce.com/media/screenshots.
Less than a month after the first production release of their software, the Magento online community boasts 14,905 registered users with 351 members currently logged in as I write this post.
Magento has done a fantastic job of integrating their community tools into their website. A single sign-on gives access to Wiki, Forums, Bug Tracking, & Sub-project development groups.
Members of the Magento development team can be found answering questions on the forum, updating entries in knowledge base, and occasionally providing free training via live webcasts.
The Framework Under The Hood
Not only does Magento look sexy, but it was built on a solid object-oriented framework.
As an eCommerce consultant I felt that if I wanted solid code I needed to use a Java-based enterprise solution like OFBiz or Opentaps. But sometimes that was overkill for simple little cart projects and I’d end up using crappy free php carts with spaghetti-like code.
Magento now offers a solution to fill that middle-ground vacuum. Based on the Zend Framework, the code is all PHP so doesn’t require a special application server like the java solutions do and should run on almost any simple hosting solution.
The code can be easily customized using rewrites of existing code to a local repository of customized codes. This keeps custom code separate from base code and simplifies upgrades.
Magento code is object-oriented, so classes inherit all of the methods from the parent class they are extending and you only need to define the methods you’re adding or modifying. No more cloning vast amounts of code.
Other PHP developers have told me that learning the Magento framework was a big paradigm shift
for them, but any developer with a java web application background should be able to dive right in.
If you have any questions of comments on Magento, please let me know below: