Your Guide to Magento 2 Community Edition
By David Ephraim, ATAK Interactive President, Development + Operations
If you follow the world of eCommerce to any degree, you’ll have heard the name Magento 2. Magento is a powerful and open-source eCommerce solution that can be custom-tailored to fit the needs of each individual business that uses it. This is because Magento is not just a software package, but a framework that developers can use to create eCommerce sites. This gives Magento flexibility that most of its competitors do not have. There is a commercial version of the software, Magento 2 Enterprise, but this post will focus on the fully open-sourced Community Edition.
What is Magento 2 Community Edition?
With over 4 million downloads, Magento 2 Community Edition is an absolute juggernaut in the eCommerce world. Early in its life, and when it was Magento 1, it was owned by eBay. The auction site bought the eCommerce software for quite a large sum, $180 million. It saw a downturn in use as it tried to split itself into the Community and Enterprise editions. Parent company eBay even advised customers to switch to competing platforms while the transition was taking place. After the transition, however, Magento was able to make the strong profits that skyrocketed it back to the top of the eCommerce world. So successful has it become, that Adobe recently purchased the software for the sum of $1.68 billion.
Magento is a full-service eCommerce platform, offering support for website management, checkout and payment, shipping, SEO, analytics and reporting, marketing, order management, customer service, robust customer accounts, and catalog management. Being open-sourced and developed in PHP, the software allows for unparalleled customization by your web development team, bringing not only power but flexibility.
As we mentioned, the community edition of the software differs in features from its commercial brother, Magento Enterprise. The paid version, as you might expect, has a few more features built in to save your development team time. As the download numbers show though, the free version is still quite an attractive offering for the needs of many eCommerce sites.
Thus far, we’ve been using Magento 1 and Magento 2 interchangeably. In the next section, we are going to talk a bit about the improvements and differences between Magento 1 and Magento 2 for those of you who are familiar with the first version and are wondering what changed.
What are the Major Differences/Improvements of Magento 2 Community Edition?
The list of features and improvements over Magento 1 is a mile long, so we will not be covering them all here. There are a few standout changes that have everyone excited, however. These key features, the ones that are going to make Magento 1 users want to make the switch, are what we will be discussing.
The Magento 1 codebase is old. As such, it is built on technology that is now quite antiquated. Big improvements have been made in that regard with Magento 2. The new version of the software now runs on the latest version of PHP, has native support for HTML5, and has an API that was developed from the ground up to be tightly integrated with the software. The API in Magento 1 was added later in its life and did not integrate as tightly with the core code.
This tighter coupling of the API, along with other intentional changes to the system, means that extensions are now easier and more efficient for developers to create. In addition to making life easier for extension developers, Magento 2 features a much easier installation process for extensions to make life easier for other users as well.
Moving to the newer technologies and rewriting the architecture of the code allowed the developers of Magento 2 to pack in some pretty exciting performance improvements. Some of the major improvements are:
- Better use of the browser cache
- 52% faster add to cart functionality
- 150% improvement in the number of catalog views possible per hour when using PHP 7
The user-facing dashboards of Magento 1 were cluttered, unattractive, and difficult to get your head around. This meant that the learning curve was higher than it needed to be, and labor costs were increased as you had to take extra time training employees how to use it. Magento 2 changes all of that with a much-improved, mobile friendly dashboard that removes the color, improves the aesthetics, and reduces the learning curve in the process.
Schema.org is a collaborative effort of Google, Bing, and Yahoo that is designed to standardize markup used by search engines. Because the major players are involved, supporting Schema.org markup allows for a significant boost in the search engine performance of your site. Magento 2 supports Schema.org markup, making the newer version better for your page ranking across the most popular destinations for search.
The improvements to speed will also bring an SEO advantage as search engine companies have begun factoring page load time into their rankings.
Why Should You Upgrade to Magento 2 Community Edition?
The improvements listed in the previous section should have given you a good reason to switch from Magento 1 to Magento 2, but there is one more very important reason to make the switch. In June of 2020, Magento 1 will reach the end of its life. This means that there will be no more updates to the software. We aren’t talking about the minor annoyance of missing out on bug fixes for some obscure problem that your web development team has already found a way around here, we are talking about no longer receiving security patches. The reality is that using Magento 1 past the cutoff date will start to put the security of your business, and of your customer’s data, at risk. This problem will be made worse by the fact that malicious coders will understand whatever exploits that can find are going to be permanently available to them in any site that has not made the upgrade.
Thankfully, migrating your site from an older version of the software to a newer version of the same software does not bring with it quite the same challenges as having to migrate to an entirely new platform. There have, however, been a large number of changes to the software between versions so migrating will not be without its headaches. Careful planning and a web development team with experience in Magento will be a must if you are to complete the migration as smoothly as possible.
With over 10 years of experience creating custom Magento stores for clients across a number of industries, ATAK Interactive has the knowledge and expertise to upgrade any Magento 1 web store integration to Magento 2 Community Edition. We are also qualified to help you with any other Magento development needs that you may have.
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