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    The Progression of Magento 2

    Magento 2 was first released in 2015. At the time, it was not very well received as it arrived both too late and too early. Why the oxymoron? Well, it was apparent that Magento’s team felt pressured to release their much-awaited sequel, but it was still very raw and needed a lot of work to be considered stable by the average merchant or developer.

    Fast-forward to 2019, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Magento site launching on Magento 1.x. Magento 1 will reach End of Life in June of 2020 and will cease to receive support patches or other updates from the Magento team. Magento is putting all of its future resources into maintaining and strengthening Magento 2.

    If you’re still on Magento 1, you may very well be wondering what benefits Magento 2 may bring to your business. After all, the migration from Magento 1 to Magento 2 will require the building of a new Magento 2 site, installation of Magento 2 compatible extensions (as-needed), migration of your Magento 1 data to your new store, integration of a Magento 2 theme, and moving to a hosting account that’s optimized for Magento 2

    If you’re interested in learning more about Magento 1 End of Life and Migrating to Magento 2, you might enjoy tuning into Episode 1 of The JetRails Podcast. If you want to learn more about specific benefits of Magento 2, listen to Episode 2 of The JetRails Podcast wherever you access podcasts, watch the video:

    …or check out this helpful breakdown of some of the most important benefits of Magento 2:

    New Features that launched with Magento 2.0.x

    – A two-step checkout process in place of the old five-step checkout in Magento 1.

    – An automated system for identifying shoppers that already have accounts, and reminding them to log in to check out faster.

    – A prompt to on the Thank You page, giving shoppers another option to create an account right after their order is submitted.

    – New more modern native themes, and a new, more modern Admin interface.

    – Elastic Search for site search (originally EE only)

    – Content staging, preview and scheduling features allowing you to more thoroughly test and prepare content and promotions. 

    – Server-side loading speed improvements, such as native support for Varnish (with some fine-tuning of course!)

    – Database Sharding (EE Only) – Standalone databases for order management, product management, and checkout, allowing for more scalability through the provisioning of hosting resources for each data set (ie. Main Database, Checkout Database, Orders Database)

    Worth noting, Magento 2.0.x reached its official end of life in March of 2018. Rather than continue to support every version of Magento 2.x, users of Magento are expected to stay up-to-date, upgrading to more recent versions of Magento 2.

    Improvements included in Magento 2.1.x

    While there were certainly many improvements released in 2016 and 2017, overall, this could be considered a stability release. Out of the thousands of code commits on Github that went to Magento 2.1.0, a large percentage were bug fixes. During this period, more developers began building Magento 2 websites and Magento 2 extensions.

    Magento 2.1.x reached its end of life in June of 2019, 3 years after it was released.

    Features added with Magento 2.2.x

    During this release, Magento Community Edition (CE) was renamed Magento Open Source, and Magento Enterprise Edition (EE) was renamed Magento Commerce.

    – Magento Business Intelligence (BI) – After Magento acquired RJMetrics, an independent SaaS solution that provided a multi-channel analytics solution, it became Magento Business Intelligence, greatly enhancing the reporting capabilities of paid users.

    – Magento has long been used by manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and other B2B organizations. In this release, Magento began offering additional B2B modules to paid Magento Commerce users. These features include:

    – Quick Order

    – Quotes

    – Requisition Lists

    – Company Accounts

    It’s also important to know that some features released with previous versions of Magento, like 2.2, have already been laid to rest. This includes Magento Social. This has gone the way of other initiatives, like Magento Go. 

    The end of life date for Magento 2.2.x is December 2019, coinciding with the sunset of PHP 7.1.

    Functionality released with Magento 2.3x. 

    This could very well be the most important release since Magento 2 first became stable. Magento 2.3 includes game-changing features, such as:

    – GraphQL & Progressive Web App (PWA) Studio: In essence, much more advanced ways of making Magento headless, and incorporating newer, more flexible and nimble, and faster-loading frontend interfaces to a Magento instance.

    – Elastic Search is now a standard option for Magento Open Source users, whereas it was previously only available with a paid Magento Commerce license.

    – Multi-Source Inventory – This feature allows businesses with inventory in multiple locations to manage data more effectively in Magento. *This is only a module and did not replace the core Magento inventory management systems though.

    – Magento Sales & Advertising Channels will help merchants connect their data with Amazon and Google Merchant Center with a free extension. In essence, this turns a Magento instance into a data master for those that also sell on Amazon or run AdWords campaigns. It will even handle advanced features like repricing rules. 

    – Page Builder – A Magento Commerce features that provides a more user-friendly way of managing landing and CMS pages for marketers and admins that aren’t using a CMS like WordPress and that don’t want to assign tasks to a developer.

    – Asynchronous and Bulk Web APIs – These provide much faster results for stores that heavily leverage Magento’s API’s. Such stores will still need to have enough hosting resources and proper hosting optimization to efficiently handle the load on your Magento site

    – Security enhancements for admin access including Google ReCaptcha and Two-Factor Authentication.

    – Performance enhancements, such as sharding and parallel processing of indexers to, for instance, significantly cut down on category product reindexing time.

    Magento 2.3.x was initially released in November of 2018 and is expected to live on until late in 2021. Meanwhile, Magento 2.4 is anticipated to reach general release in Q1 of 2020. We’re eager to see what makes it into that new release.

    In addition to all of these core features, Magento has been releasing many more partner modules with Magento 2. These modules are known as Core Bundled Extensions and include:

    – Extensions for DotDigital, Signifyd, Temando (ie. Magento Shipping), and Vertex 

    – Payment gateways including Braintree and Klarna

    – Some extensions only found natively in Magento Commerce such as for WorldPay

    Closing Thoughts

    Magento 2 is continuing to evolve and is a leader in eCommerce innovation. Magento 1 has had a great lifespan, but it’s technologically stagnant, which is not a good place to be as an eCommerce merchant. New features continue to roll out with Magento 2, and new extensions (and updates for existing extensions) continue to be deployed for M2 users. Magento 1 is no longer receiving the same attention from the Magento community. While there are still many thousands of websites operating on Magento 1, they are expected to re-platform to other systems.

    Once Magento 1 is officially sunset, there will be immediate concerns about PCI Compliance and overall security. Without Magento as a central body to release updates and security patches, including to stay compatible with supported versions of software like PHP, and to keep core connectors to other systems like shipping and payment systems (like, merchants will be much more susceptible to major issues. If you’re an established business, you owe it to your customers and your staff to have a viable plan for keeping your eCommerce site functional, safe, and secure.

    With Magento 2, you get some of the most innovative eCommerce technology available, but you need to plan to stay on an upgrade path, budgeting time and capital to be an eCommerce leader in your B2C or B2B industry.

    At JetRails, we’re supporting many merchants that are moving to Magento 2. It’s a core focus for us. However, we’re also here to help merchants that choose other eCommerce platforms, like X-Cart, or that choose a Headless Commerce approach using a CMS like WordPress or Drupal with a SaaS solution like BigCommerce

    About The Author
    Robert Rand
    Director of Partnerships & Alliances

    Robert is a Magento 1 and 2 Solution Specialist with over a decade of experience in helping merchants benefit from sound ecommerce and digital marketing strategies. He’s highly experienced at harnessing the power of ecommerce technologies and solutions to help businesses of all types and sizes grow and succeed.

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