Every year there are a ton of Magento conferences around the world that give developers, business owners, and anyone else that uses Magento a chance to meet each other and see whats new in our ecosystem. This year I went to Meet Magento NYC for the second time. I usually go to 2 conferences each year, Meet Magento NYC and the biggest of them all, Imagine in Las Vegas. The two conferences have very different atmospheres. Meet Magento NYC feels more developer centric with real world coding and site management workshops while Imagine in Las Vegas feels more like a showing of force for the Magento team with a big keynote. Most of the workshops are centered around how to use or integrate a sponsors platform into your own magento store which then ends with an over the top, Vegas-style, party.
Whenever I go to the conferences I tend to spend most of my time on the developer tracks. This years Meet Magento NYC developer tracks were all about the upcoming Magento 2 platform release. To put it briefly, Magento 2 is an entirely new platform and none of the existing code that developers have spent their time working on will be transferrable. Most developers are worried about how they are going to migrate their code to the new platform and the amount of time they’ll have to spend learning the new platform. The only things you can transfer to Magento 2 are customers, orders, and products. Luckily Magento has made a tool to help with that. You’re on your own as far as migrating your code to the new platform but Magento has put together some good resources for learning here and they are also offering a discounted Magento U course for Magento 2 development here.
While the move to Magento 2 might seem like a big to do, I think the benefits make the move worth it. From a backend development standpoint, I think the coding makes more sense. With the new layout modules are no longer scattered around the file system, they have built in unit testing, and they also give more information on what they are modifying or changing and what each version means. You can also install components and dependencies via Composer natively. On the frontend, things like CSS Pre-Processing with LESS, HTML5, and CSS3, and jQuery are being used natively. It also includes a Magento UI Library to help ease front-end development which should cut down on development time.
Another big improvement is the upgrade process for Magento 2. The platform itself it will include versioning policies and list upgrade compatibility BEFORE the upgrade process happens. Extensions will include more detailed information including dependencies on other components, their versions, and system requirements. These changes won’t leave you crossing your fingers and hoping your extension and platform upgrades won’t break your site. Now you will have a pretty good understanding before you test the upgrades of what will and what won’t break, leading to higher adoption rates and reducing the amount of stores running on older, less secure, code or without the newest features.
Magento 2 also comes with a simplified admin to help ease managing your store. The menu system is now grouped into 2 main functions, ecommerce and the system itself. For the ecommerce section you’ll find catalog, categories, promotions, and everything else you would expect. On the system side of things you will find the site options and configuration settings. Overall, there are less steps to get to the section you’re trying to get to.
While there is a lot to learn with Magento 2, it still hasn’t been released. Even once it is (hopefully at the end of this year) no one is going to be crazy enough to adopt it right away so there is still plenty of time to learn.