Magento and Ebay: 9 months later

It has been nearly 9 months ago since the Magento Developers Paradise 2011 and the announcement that Ebay has acquired 51% of the remaining Magento shares. You might think that 9 months is an unusual timeframe for a recap? Or that some kind of new idea or product has just been born? The answer is no! I’m writing this because I feel that I have to.

At first I’d like to sum up the positive events which happened during this period of time:

X.commerce Innovate Developer Conference 2011

I have attended the X.commerce Innovate Developer Conference 2011 in San Francisco and had a great time meeting new folks but also having a chat with people I haven’t seen for quite a while. I’ve also enjoyed some great and inspiring talks, especially the presentaion of Tom’s Shoes by Blake Mycoskie. Magento had it’s own track with sessions about Magento 2, Magento’s role in X.commerce, development, etc. During the keynote it became clear to me, that Magento will be one of the numerous parts of X.commerce. At this moment I was not sure if this will be positive or negative for the further development of Magento as an ecommerce platform.

The result of the event was that I’ve been planning to have a deeper look on the X.commerce fabric which was made public to download, but I haven’t done this until now!

Magento Developer Certification

A couple of weeks before the Innovate Conference Magento announced the beta phase of the Magento Developer Certification. This is something I was waiting for since 2009. It is a very important instrument to make the quality and development capacity of a solution partner transparent to the public (clients, developers seeking for a place to work with a good team, etc.). It was possible to take part at the exam right on the conference and I’ve received a voucher on site, so I gave it a shot and signed for the Developer Plus exam. The Developer Plus exam covers also the Enterprise Edition modules while the normal Developer Certification focuses on the Community Edition only. The exam was not easy, but working with Magento since the end of 2007 made it possible for me to pass without any preparation.

This accelerated my plan to set up an internal training program for my developers at the company I work for and also for a sibling company. Since last month I’m currently preparing 14 developers to take the Developer Plus exam!

Magento University

Offering training courses for developers is another crucial service to enable and support solution partners to deliver in time and in quality to their clients. I remember the days when you had to figure out everything by yourself by digging the code. And by everything I mean everything: even the architecture and how to write a proper module which doesn’t mess in the core and keeps the solution upgradeable. The lack of such services led to numerous failed projets or messed up solutions which didn’t satisfy the client. All of this is bad for the reputation of Magento.

With the Magento U Magento offers on site courses. The most important one is the course “Fundamentals of Magento Development” with a duration of 5 days. This is the perfect start for any developer who wants to work with Magento. I wish that there was a course like this in 2007!

In addition to the on site courses there are on demand video trainings which are a nice addition to my training program.

Magento Tests Automation Framework

This is the most recent publication: the Magento Tests Automation Framework. It is using PHPUnit to run about 1000 Selenium testcases to ensure if the core functionality of Magento is still working properly along with your customizations. Also it offers you to extend the tests to cover your customizations. Another thing I’ve been waiting for since a long period of time.

The lack of such tool leads to high testing effort: either you build such suite of testcases by yourself or you keep testing your projects manually. Both require high effort and under budget pressure this leads to poorly tested shops and again disappointed customers.

I didn’t have the time to tests the Magento Tests Automation Framework, but if the results will be good I will consider to implement it into our quality assurance process instead of our Selenium smoke test suites which we use at the moment.

Interlude

Sounds pretty good so far, doesn’t it? If there was not one more thing: Magento 2! Magento 2 is a very important project for Magento. It contains crucial architecture refactoring, decoupling of modules, performance enhancements, etc. The list is long and I’ve already written about it. Just releasing some new features, bigfixes and small improvements on indexing and stuff is not enough!

The release date was announced to be the end of 2012, so there is still some time left. My main concern is the lack of transparency. The last time I heard something about Magento 2 was in October 2011 at the Innovate Conference.

Lack of Transparency

Magento announced in June 2011 at the Magento Developers Paradise 2011, that the development of Magento will be performed using the Atlassian software stack which will also give the Magento community a better insight in the progress and development process.

So let’s see, what we’ve got:

I would say that there could be some more transparency than that! At least we still have GitHub: https://github.com/magento/magento2. Unfortunately, the development is not based on GitHub, there are only a couple of merges into GitHub. The last one was a couple of days ago, the commit before that was in the end of December 2011!

In fact, this is the reason why I’m writing this post. I’ve looked into the GitHub project about 4 or 5 days ago and until then the last commit was still from 2011 which concerned me a lot!

Conclusion

I think that Magento should meet its announcement to provide more transparency in the development process of Magento 2. I’m happy to read (after digging around for this information) that the public alpha will be completed in Q1 2012 and will contain the first version of the visual design editor, a modular admin application (so not everything is in Mage_Adminhtml !) and jQuery as the primary JavaScript library! It’s nice to announce that on the Magento Imagine, but you have to remember that the Magento community is not a bunch of salesmen which are happy to hear about the new stuff on conferences.

We are developers and like to be in touch with all the details! With every commit which might contain a fix for an issue reported by us! There are only 6 reported issues on GitHub, I think there could be way more of them if there would be more announcements and information feeds. Of course I know, that the majority of the community is working with Magento 1 and is very busy. But I think that Magento should enable it to deal with Magento 2 much earlier. That’s very important to enable a smooth migration to Magento 2. Which client will want to spend money to implement a store on Magento 1 in one year, when Magento 2 will hopefully be available as a stable release? You have to be prepared for that!

Magento should remember how the development process of Magento 1 was driven by the huge participation of the community which reported thousands of issues before Magento 1.0 was released. This is something which will be crucial for Magento 2 as well! For Magento and the community!