Magento® 2.0: When is it Time to Upgrade?

What you need to know about the latest Magento version, Magento 2.0

When a platform like Magento releases a new core version, the first question merchants on the platform (early adopters, late adopters, and laggards alike) ask is if the new release is a call to upgrade. An upgrade to Magento 2.0 will be necessary at some point, but it's the timing for that decision that will determine the balance of cost and benefits.

Note: If you’re not operating on a Magento platform right now, and are wondering if you should be, check out our blog post Magento is the Right eCommerce Solution For You

What to Expect from Magento 2.0

Most eCommerce platforms offer the same general feature set across the board, the basics of ecommerce systems (transacting) has not changed in many years significantly. They would not argee with us at Magento, but... in our experience with Magento 2.0, the feature set from a merchant's perspective is relatively unchanged. Clients will still want to use third-party services for better reporting, analytics, fulfillment management, social integration, CRM, customer service, email campigns and other MarTech, and there have not been a lot of extensions for these tools developed yet. We expect that to change over 2016.

It’s not possible to migrate your database in place with Magento 2.0. Data migration requires a fresh install, and then moving your data. (Magento does offer a data migration tool here.) However, media, storefront design, and ACLs (Access Control Lists) will all need to be migrated manually. It’s not a one-button upgrade - there’s no backward compatibility (which is typical with most open source projects).

As of now, there’s no deadline or necessity to migrate, and we generally recommend waiting at least another year to allow Magento time to work the bugs out of the new system. A determining factor will be whether or not the extension your site depends on in 1.0 will be released for 2.0. Currently, there are roughly a hundred extensions available for Magento 2.0 - far less than the thousands available for 1.0 - and discontinuing those 1.0 extensions would be extremely limiting for most merchants.

After reviewing what Magento 2.0 has to offer, and with the assumption that Magento 1.0 patches will continue to be released, we are recommending to our existing merchants to wait out 2016, and think about 2017 for a move to 2.0.  The exception would be those who are moving to Magento eCommerce for the first time or are planning a major site redesign. If you find yourself in either of these categories, are considering making the migration simply to stay up-to-date with Magento, here’s what you can expect from the new Magento 2.0.

The Benefits of 2.0

In our experience using Magento 2.0, we have found that while the feature set may have remained the same, the chief system benefits come from the improved system architecture as well as the user experience. While some merchants are disappointed that the feature set hasn’t changed, the administrative and development aspects of Magento 2.0 are cleaner and more streamlined.

The Top Six Benefits for Merchants

  1. Magento’s decision to maintain its 2.0 version with a transaction engine focus has in many ways simplified the user experience for administrators. The user interface is much more navigable for administrators, and many of the more advanced features are well hidden.
  2. The user experience has changed to better accommodate B2B (Business to Business) resources by including quick order pages to enable wholesale type features, multiple shipping locations, negotiating pricing per user, and an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) entry point in order to accommodate integrations.
  3. One of the best, new, conversion features is the well-tested, two-step checkout pipeline, eliminating the need for managing web extensions in order to streamline conversions. A consumer’s email is entered in the first step and they create an account at the end of their purchase.
  4. Some other changes have included a static CMS homepage which can be used for any non-product content and styled easily. The category pages can also be accessed through any of the primary navigation pages and display list views of products, filters, etc.(the category pages are similar to those from the system design in Magento 1.9) The product detail page includes three different categories: simple products, bundled products, and group products, and you can now see reviews at the product level. The cart includes a dropdown cart in the header, which is an added benefit for shoppers.
  5. It would be easy for a lot of companies to extend Magento 2.0 pretty lightly and have a usable store quickly. The cart system, checkout, and site responsiveness are already well-established right out of the box; reducing the amount of development time spent in the past theming Magento before the platform could be launched.
  6. Magento 2.0 is significantly faster than 1.0 and they’ve built a full page cache that can speed up publishing processes even further.

The Top Six Benefits for Developers

  1. The cleaner build of Magento 2.0 is also a benefit for web developers. Theming still continues to use layouts, templates, and CSS - that same style of override that themers have been using in the past that involves grabbing .phtml files and changing the layouts as well as managing the XML files. Magento 2.0 also supports Twig rendering for their theme rendering engine (Twig strips out PHP) but still supports .phtml files.
  2. They have added support for built-in LESS compiling for faster, easier CSS development and now use HTML5 and CSS3.
  3. Magento has also replaced the prototype, JS library, with a jQuery library in order to keep up with industry standards.
  4. There is added support for PHP 7 and MySQL Percona
  5. There are new, fully-responsive default reference themes “Blank” and “Luma” (Luma inherits from Blank) that can be used as a starting point for 2.0. Luma is already fully responsive, built on top of LESS, and looks clean - Magento recommends “Blank” and “Luma” as a starting point, and then extending from there.

    Magento storefront example

  6. Extensions, however, will require a full rewrite. Copying code into the new structure is not easily done and we are having more success just sitting fown and rewriting extensions again. We expect that extension providers will sunset support and maintenance for 1.0, although there are only about 100 extensions available for 2.0 now. Magento has also provided frontend developer guides for 2.0 that can be accessed here.

Magento 2.0 Pros v. Cons: If You’re Still Unsure

Clearly, there is a lot in the works for Magento and the wider ecosystem, and we forward to being on the front line as 2.0 unfolds. If you are still unsure whether or not you need to upgrade to Magento 2.0, or if you have any questions about how to navigate the new system or safely migrate your database, please feel free to contact us directly or connect with us on social!