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    What is Magento 2? What you need to know

    by Iain Thomson Project Lead

    If you’re looking to launch an eCommerce site, it’s likely that you’ll be looking to use one of the available platforms rather than design a secure website from scratch. That is overwhelmingly the most sensible option, as you can have a basic site up and running within days – even hours – of installing one on your server.

    No doubt the word Magento is cropping up in your research, too. That would be because it’s up there with the biggest players in the sector, with only WooCommerce and Shopify having more stores. Magento was launched in 2008, and became a solid, dependable open-source eCommerce platform with a thriving community of developers behind it.

    Despite being hugely popular, however, Magento’s limitations did start to show as soon as it became popular enough to attract bigger clients with larger customer bases. Around 2010 the developers announced that there would be a second iteration, which would be much more capable and would be launched within a year. The first part was true, but retailers had a little longer to wait, with Magento 2 finally landing in 2015.

    It was worth the wait. The new platform came with a host of improvements, including:

    • a brand new architecture that supports newer technologies
    • significant speed improvements
    • enhanced security
    • a greater focus on SEO
    • Improvements to the way extensions work together (which had been a particular issue with Magento 1, where extensions could conflict)
    • a much more user-friendly dashboard

    That last point is crucial. While Magento 1 was capable enough, inexperienced users could struggle as the dashboard had been a little disorganised and unintuitive, compared to a CMS like WordPress that they might have been used to. With Magento 2, there was a gentler learning curve, as the look and feel of the dashboard could be picked up by anyone. In the modern world of business, when platforms are hoping to onboard as many customers as possible, that is a non-negotiable.

    Both versions are still available, but with support for Magento 1 ending in 2020, only die-hards are still using it.

    Now the slightly more complicated bit. Magento had two versions: Open Source and Enterprise. With Open Source, the retailer downloads it, installs it on their web space and it’s completely the business’s responsibility to host it and keep it updated. Enterprise was essentially the same software, but it came with a full support package, enhanced capability out of the box and options such as hosting packages – for a price. If you’re familiar with the differences between and .org, it’s a similar deal.

    Magento was acquired by Adobe in 2018, and now there are two versions of the platform. Magento Enterprise became Adobe Commerce (although hardly anyone calls it that), and as it had new owners, certain contractual things have changed.

    However, due to a groundswell of interest from the army of Magento developers, Adobe decided to retain the free-to-use, open-source version of Magento 2, which anyone can still get without paying a penny. It was a smart move by Adobe, as it’s this community that forms the backbone of the Magento ecosystem, and acts as an incubator for new ideas and extensions, with hobbyists, agencies and corporations all adding to the pool. It is also a place where support can be found and given in a spirit of friendship and collaboration, which takes the strain off Adobe’s own support network.

    So whether you’re looking at self-hosting with Magento 2 or going the paid route with Adobe Commerce, why not get in touch to find out the benefits of having a dedicated team of Magento developers on your side?