What the Magento community needs..

Magento is an open-source ecommerce web application launched on March 31, 2008 by Varien.

Now this is the ecommerce application that everyone was waiting for, and to be open-sourced, meaning free to install, no licence required, even better!

Magento 1.3 feature list (PDF) is all that customers will need for their online store, and easy for developers and agencies to sell as part of their product family.

MAGENTO COMMUNITY NEEDS LOVE FROM VARIEN
However, I feel that Varien are ignoring important feedback provided by its users, after all there have been over 1 million downloads – so each version is very well tested by the community.

With Varien listening and monitoring what is being said about Magento will lead to a stronger, more powerful and flexible platform for all owners and users to enjoy. This currently isn’t happening.

There are lots of frustrating quirks and ‘Magento-isms’ to the application that are quite easy to debug, being based on the PHP zend framework. However, they still remain on each release, as a developer you just have to be aware of installation or database issues from past experience.

Currently bugs, issues and even ‘how do I’ questions are being left open on the Magento forum, ie: not being answered by moderators. This I feel is rather sad for a product that clearly has huge potential.

For example:
» Reduce heavy load javascript in the headers
» Optimise the code – Magento is very resource intensive
» Less demand on server memory

Many many more at the Community Roadmap. Magento 2.0?

WHY BOTHER?
As the community has to fend for itself (although the forum always says 1000 users online), you will find that a lot of users actually keep fixes and workarounds to themselves, rather than sharing fixes on the forum. Perhaps the feeling ‘why should I bother, if no one is listening?’ attitude?

CUT THE FORUM NOISE
Their are a lot of questions on the forum that are the same, and some threads that go off in a different direction. Moderation and slimming down the unnecessary content is required.

PUSH FOR EXTENSION EXPERIMENTATION!
I would also like to see more experimentation with Magento extensions over at Magento Connect. Currently there are some ‘nice-to-have’ features members or partners have added. However, more CMS integration would be great, like with WordPress, there is currently a Magebridge extension that allows you to share databases and content, but it’s still early days. I recommend Varien focus on getting the existing features in the next release (1.4?) stable before committing to any new features.

At the moment, anyone can experiment, but again there’s no support or advice when you require it, unless you hire a Magento solution partner to help. Costly.

VARIEN SUPPORT
You can get support from the Magento Enterprise edition which was released this April (2009). This version provides a service agreement with Varien and starts at £5,500 per year. However, the difference between a free model and per annum basis is huge, and one of the main ideas behind the open-source movement is that developers and programmers contribute towards improving the core code of the application.

POSITIVE STEPS
A positive step forward is that Varien have transferred the development of the roadmap to the Community Advisory Board. Through direct involvement with the community the CAB will be able manage and supervise the roadmap more efficiently, more openly and more cordially. Link to Roadmap of Magento.

That’s good news. However, it is very, very sad that Mageno has so far completely ignored interacting wiith the community – there are no team members in the forum any more. Bug reports are ignored and not commented on or just closed without any explanation.

I would really like to see Magento proving that it is listening and working with the community. More Mage-camps and workshops please.

Magento feels like how WordPress was a few years ago, (good, but could be great!). Magento has some killer features that still prove to be shaky..

Varien will continue to offer an application that will be a few years behind in development if they choose to look away from a community that is sharing very valuable feedback.

Jim Callender

Since 2003, Callender Creates have been responsible for delivering high profile sites for a variety of Award Winning Design & Marketing Agencies. Our Strengths are in Front-End Development and Cutting Edge Web Technologies. Services include Web Consultancy, Strategy, UX, HTML5, CSS3, WordPress, and Magento. >> Need to Discuss your Next Digital Project? Contact Us

  • Varien’s apparent ignoring of the community worries me as to whether we will one day see a complete code split with Enterprise getting better and better due to the money being pumped in, whilst the community edition gets left behind with volunteers trying to keep up.

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  • I’d personally appreciate if Varien moved Magento from prototype to jQuery.

  • Vinai

    I can assure you, Varien is working on the situation. I know thats kinda not what you want to hear, but since I’m fortunate enough to have a place in the “Community Advisory Board” for some reason, I have a little information on what is going on.

    Time and money is getting put into resolving the situation. Currently very high on the priority list is getting a process into place so it will be possible to accept community contributions into the core. All this legal stuff is soon to be sorted out afaik.

    On another note, the 1.4 branch seems to fix some of the gripes at least I’ve had with the Magento code for some time (e.g. the tax and discount calculation, better cms features).

    There still is a loong way to go, but given the extreme growth of Magento I think it’s being handled quite well, regarding the youth of the project. Not sure if I could do it any better.

    Just my 2c,
    Vinai