How can I decide whether to use version 1 or 2 of the Magento eCommerce platform? When does it make sense to upgrade existing implementations to the new version? Although Magento retains its familiar face, the new generation includes a few things that you should be aware of when you embark on an online store project.

The long road to Magento version two

Development work began on Magento 2 in 2010 and the aim was to release the new version by the end of 2011. However, the plans changed when eBay acquired Magento Inc for 180 million dollars in June 2011 and the CTO, Yoav Kutner, left the company the following year. Organisational shifts, personnel changes and respecified goals for the development project put the brakes on the work on Magento 2, and the new version was only released in December 2015.

What is new in Magento 2? Was it worth waiting five years?

Magento's technical architecture has been modernised in many ways. The less well known prototype.js user interface library has been replaced by jQuery, a more widely used library that is more familiar to user interface designers and developers. Magento 2 also supports unit tests and automated testing, which improve the technical quality and information security of the ecommerce platform.

Magento 2 administrator's user interface

For online merchants, Magento 2's updated admin interface is easier to use. The functions are better structured and the navigation and admin views adapt better to the size of the display in use.

The biggest changes for users of online stores are the responsive theme and the more streamlined checkout process. It is easier to make purchases in Magento 2 online stores than those based on the old version of Magento.

None of the new features of Magento 2 are significant enough to warrant an immediate update from the old system to the new version. However, the development work carried out on Magento 2 was essential to address the technological deficit in the architecture and enable further development work to focus on new features.

Tips for a Magento online store project

  • New Magento stores should primarily be based on Magento 2.
  • During the specification phase for the online store project, find out which Magento extensions are needed for the online store and whether they are available for version 2.
  • The same rules apply to extensions as under Magento 1. Try to avoid using extensions, but if they are necessary, choose only widely-used extensions from recognised suppliers.
  • If a required extension is not (yet) available for Magento 2, consider building your online store on the older Magento 1 platform.
  • Be aware that the Magento developer community will only support Magento 1 until the end of 2018.

When is the right time to update an online store to Magento 2?

There is no simple answer to this question as the best time depends on the state of your online store, as well as the availability of extensions for Magento 2. In any case, it is sensible to update to Magento 2 by the end of 2018, as official support for versions 1.x will end then.

The focus for the development of the Magento platform has switched to versions 2.x, and versions 1.x will increasingly be left behind in terms of features. Conducting further development of online stores based on the older version of Magento should also be carefully considered, as it may not be possible to directly implement the same changes into Magento 2.

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Olli Maksimainen avatar