2017 Starts with Rage and Apologies for Magento 2
Razoyo’s Point of View
I appreciate Karen Baker of ShipperHQ for starting a conversation about Magento 2, commitment to community, and the ‘state’ of things. Josh Warren, ever the apologist for Magento, posted a lengthy (his words) response not only to Karen’s comments, but, to some general criticisms of Magento 2 that seem to originate from the competition.
Side note: Apparently, Josh and I get the same SPAM because I get several emails a day from yahoos telling me that Magento is dead and their solution is better. Confession: I sometimes click on those links only to have a good laugh… really? you want me to switch to Woo Commerce? Be serious.
The Magento 2 Conflict
While Karen is no longer a Magento partner and Josh’s company is an ardent Magento partner, Razoyo, many will be surprised to hear, is not a Magento partner and never has been. We’ve done work for Magento, contributed to Magento core, developed principally on Magento for the past few years, and have good relationships with the people at Magento. For us it’s not a question of principle (like Karen), but, practicality. It’s an expensive proposition and Magento never made a good enough case for us to make the investment.
Karen might say we were smart, Josh would probably say we don’t get it. I say, “we love Magento, but, we’re Razoyo.” We are all about providing small and medium-sized merchants with the best tech possible to run their businesses. We call it ‘empowering the merchant.’
We’ve worked on several platforms and arrived at Magento as the best way to deliver our promises to our clients.
I agree with Karen on many, many points and not just because I think she might punch me in the face if I don’t. I agree with Josh on his agreement with Karen but view his apologetics with some skepticism.
Rather than rehash and re-quote their arguments and agreements, I’ll do what I’m known for and take a practical approach.
How to Win
First of all, change is always HARD. We knew that the process of changing to Magento 2 was not going to be easy and had the idea that it was going to be a bit messy. However, ALL of our new Magento development is done on Magento 2, not Magento 1 and has been since early 2016.
Why? It’s both practical and ethical. Magento 2 is getting all of the innovation and investment and Magento 1 is going away. It’s not the first platform that we’ve worked on that has sunset. Ever since Magento announced its timeline for Magento 1, I simply could not, in good conscience, recommend a merchant build a new store or do a major redesign on Magento 1.
The choice is simple. If you put your investment today in a Magento 1 store, within 18 months you will be paying me (or someone else) to replatform. Sure, we develop more quickly on Magento 1, so, it may cost more to develop on Magento 2. But, replatforming will cost more notwithstanding the migration tools provided by Magento and the ones we have developed in house.
Did Magento release Magento 2 too early? Are they addressing issues and criticisms too slowly? I’ll leave answering those questions to the pundits. (Be careful being a pundit, though. Other pundits just did a major face plant on our last election.)
We are where we are, we have to move forward. If you want to call people out or cover their back, go for it. If Magento doesn’t get their house together soon enough, the development community will move on to something else. It’s not a threat, that’s just how things work.
Some see a glass half empty, some a glass half full. I see a glass that is twice as big as it needs to be.
Our Experience with Magento 2
I’m sure Karen and Josh are more capable of commenting on the big picture, but, if you’re a merchant trying to figure out where this is all going and which technology to use, some practical insights might inform your perspective.
Our first encounter
In early 2016, we took over maintenance of a Magento 2 Enterprise Edition site built by a large, respected Magento partner (one we admire). When the client gave us the first feature request and we opened up the hood, we were a little shocked. It looked like developers tried to use Magento 1 development practices to extend a Magento 2 store.
Razoyo has a product called the Technical Site Review. We’ve done several on Magento 2 builds and can tell you it’s a mixed bag. Some are great. Some were done by developers who clearly don’t know what they are doing.
Magento 2 new builds
New builds are where the bugs come into play. Our first Magento 2 builds required core code bug fixes. It wasn’t a question of not being prepared or not understanding best practice. While the Enterprise Edition comes with support, when you’re building on Community Edition, you ARE the support. There were just so many bugs that we had to fix or work around that we couldn’t bill the client for all of our time. After all, we were the ones that recommended building on Magento 2. While I stand by every recommendation we made, we had to be flexible with clients and ended up not billing substantial chunks of time. OUCH!!!!
Am I complaining? Not really. This is part of the business we are in and we are committed to being fair with our clients. Innovation hurts. We stand by our recommendation of Magento 2 as a platform which means we may have to take some lumps. It’s still the best choice.
Extensions and Marketplace
This is a mess. The people at Magento know it is. My warning: fix it or die! It’s not a threat, but, one of the GREAT powers of Magento for SMBs is that you can get rich feature enhancements for a low cost.
I’m not saying that Magento 2 is powerless, but, it isn’t a Power Ranger like Magento 1 was. Today, EVERY extension we purchase from the marketplace has problems. Features don’t work as advertised. Most fail to compile.
Our solution: write custom extensions and modules rather than purchasing extensions. Larger merchants already do this, but, small ones often cannot afford to. We hope we can go back to purchasing extensions for smaller clients some day.
GitHub and Pull Requests
Josh seems to think that Magento receives unfair criticism for not processing pull requests. I think Magento has underleveraged Git. So what if it takes a full time developer just to triage all the new requests? That is the price you pay for getting feedback from the community. If they used that feedback, they would have been able to solve a lot of their issues more quickly.
Our experience: initially we fixed several core bugs and submitted pull requests. When we saw that nobody was reading them, we stopped submitting them. Six months later they remain unread. They know our CTO and his skill set. I would think they want to use the free labor he is providing.
The big, huge bright spot!!!! Thanks guys. The documentation for merchants is great, too.
Merchants who have used both would never got back to Magento 1 especially with all the bug fixes in the latest release. Catalog management is much better. Import/Export is better. Full page cache is awesome. Navigation is more intuitive. The interface is modern and well thought-out. Configurable products make more sense. Like Josh, when I have to work on a Magento 1 store, it seems anachronistic.
There is no going back. We love Magento and hope they can focus their innovation to stay on top. The platform is on top for a reason. According to builtwith, of the top 100,000 ecommerce sites, Magento powers about 25% of them. The next solution is about 1/2 that. We’re cheering for the Magento folks because we like them, we have invested heavily in Magento knowledge, and think they can win.
I’ll see you at Imagine 2017 if you are there. Haven’t bought my tickets for 2018, yet, but, I’m pretty sure I will. Beyond that, nobody knows.