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New Magento 2 Features and Enhancements

Many merchants are trying to compare Magento 1 vs. Magento 2. While Magento 2 is still in its infancy, and many developers are eagerly awaiting the stabilization of the platform, there are many new features and improvements that merchants will be able to leverage. As of the writing of this article, there are over 1,400 issues, such as reported bugs, listed in official Magento 2 github page. There are also approximately 240 Magento Extensions available, with over 300 reported by the Magento team as coming soon. The extensions that are available have had minimal usage compared to many Magento 1 extensions, and while the Magento team has been screening these, it wouldn’t be surprizing to find shortcomings in some of these Magento 2 Extensions, given more strenuous real world use. As of today, the Magento 2 environment is therefore out of reach of most merchants who can’t risk running into so many bugs, and who want access to more pre-built extensions rather than take on the expense of custom building extensions.

With the release of Magento 2.0, several new advances were highlighted. These included:

  • Fewer checkout steps for a speedier ordering experience.
  • Automatic recognition of existing email addresses in the checkout process, allowing shoppers that already have accounts to be reminded to log in.
  • The option to register for an account on the Thank You page, after an order has been submitted.
  • Out of the box support for additional gateways, such as Braintree in the Magento Community Edition, and both WorldPay and CyberSource for the Enterprise Edition.
  • New out-of-the-box themes, and a new Admin interface.
  • The ability to save different admin panel views to speed up regular admin activities.
  • A product creation wizard, helping to add new products more easily.
  • A data migration tool to help migrate some data from a Magento 1.x site to a new 2.x site, and a speedier product data import feature for ongoing needs.
  • Standalone databases for order management, product management, and checkout, allowing for more scalability through the provisioning of hosting resources for each data set
  • Enhanced performance for teams with large numbers of admin users simultaneously utilizing Magento’s backend panel.
  • Client-side optimization features to minimize and bundle JavaScript files, compress images, and improve the use of browser caching, all of which can improve loading speeds.
  • Server-side speed improvements, such as the ability to utilize Varnish out-of-the-box with minimal tuning.
  • Automated testing for quality control of custom coding and other personalization of your storefront.
  • New API calls for promotions and sales taxes.
  • A new layout framework for quick creation and maintenance of site variations, such as for seasonal changes to your website.
  • A more modular code base, allowing developers to customize code more easily.
  • An overall more modern system, built to take advantage of newer softwares and technologies, like PHP version 7, for greater overall efficiency, security, and optimization.

Since the initial launch of 2.0 in 2015, several updates have been put out in versions 2.0.1 through 2.0.7. These have included numerous security updates, bug fixes, and general updates. Some of the many highlights have included:

  • Stronger encryption keys under System > Manage Encryption Key.
  • Product import/export features now support multi-store environments.
  • Custom customer attributes are now saved at checkout.
  • Support for a Redis Adapter for session storage.
  • Requiring stronger admin passwords and allowing admins to set limits on password attempts in order to avoid brute force attacks from hackers.

More recently, Magento has made available Magento 2.1 Release Candidates 1 through 3, which include even more enhancements, such as:

  • PayPal in-context checkout, allowing shoppers to pay with PayPal.com, without leaving your Magento site.
  • Support for Braintree hosted fields, allowing shoppers to stay on your checkout page, with fields hosted by Braintree that submit credit card information directly to Braintree, without going through your hosting account. This applies to Magento Enterprise instances.
  • Improvements to the Magento Admin search feature, the setup of global search synonyms, and the creation of new product, category and CMS content.
  • API support for shipping addresses through the Orders API.
  • Further enhancements to Varnish caching performance.

With over 3,000 closed issues on GitHub, the amount of fixed errors can be dizzying, so this list of improvements only represents a fraction of the updates that have been happening, but the platform is definitely improving at a steady clip.

There are also some new Magento Enterprise only features, such as a staging area to create, preview, and schedule updates, such as to categories, products, and promotions. This will allow you to see content and price changes in advance of a sale, for instance. This feature will even help you to preview content on different storefronts, such as if you have multiple store views to support content in additional languages. Magento Enterprise also now uses ElasticSearch for better search results.

Magento has also deployed their own Cloud Hosting service – a hosted solution provided by the Magento team for large e-commerce businesses that provides an all-in-one solution for the deployment of Magento Enterprise and Magento-Optimized Cloud Hosting. As a new offering focused on large businesses, it won’t have any implications on the average Magento merchant that’s using Magento or considering deploying a Magento site. While some businesses will definitely be drawn to this model, we anticipate that many owners of Magento Enterprise stores will continue to work directly with managed hosting teams, including those that offer cloud-based solutions, especially since many such hosting providers can leverage major cloud infrastructures, such as Amazon’s AWS and IBM’s SoftLayer.

Lastly, Magento has launched a new Marketplace for extensions, as part of their effort to better manage and test 3rd party extensions before they’re offered to the public. This environment is meant to offer an enhanced user experience compared to the Magento Connect portal used to find Magento 1.x extensions.

Not sure which version of Magento is right for you? We’d be happy to provide a complimentary initial consultation, as well as more in-depth consultation services.

If you’re looking for a more in depth comparison between Magento 1 and Magento 2, the team at X-Cart has done a pretty extensive job of comparing everything from changes to database tables and speed performance benchmarks, to showcasing Magento license fees and sample migration workflows to move from Magento 1 to Magento 2. [Note: X-Cart is an open-source E-commerce platform that competes with Magento. Rand’s team works with both platforms, which each have their unique pros and cons.]

It’s remarkable working with the team that treats your business they would their own with drive, innovation, humility and a shared love of bringing great things to our wonderful community.




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