OS Commerce Watch: New Magento 1.1 Released

Our open source expert says the latest version of Magento is set to rock the OS commerce world.

This is one in a series of columns on the open-source commerce (OSC) industry.

Those Magento boys and girls are at it again, kicking butt and taking names by releasing a brand-new, expanded 1.1 release of their already feature-rich open source e-commerce program. The company claims to already be the fastest growing e-commerce platform on the market – and not just open source e-commerce — with over 400,000 production downloads in only 16 weeks. This latest release will boost the world’s acceptance curve sharply with new features that will pique international interest.

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The team's marketing messages, already good from the start, have become laser-focused and clearer than any open source e-commerce team I've seen. They have positioned themselves as the competitive solution for shops ranging from the mom-and-pop-type shop, through the medium-size shop selling up to $150 million per year, and their features make them ideal for an enterprise shop. The company is aiming this latest release squarely at world expansion.

Summary of New Features

This new release includes hundreds of bug fixes and performance improvements including SEO-related fixes, improvements in the Admin components, and also adds support for Canadian and European taxes. Expanded product options will win over the hearts of those who sell customized products, with custom product options, personalized products, and virtual or downloadable products. And an exciting new feature is a Web services API, which opens the door for Magento to be integrated with any application via a Web Services API.

Performance Issues Addressed

The company says one of the main goals for Magento 1.1 was to examine bottlenecks in the platform and improve performance. This new release addresses the key concerns of many 1.0 users, including many bug fixes and slow page-loading times. Changes have been made to the Admin so that data are loaded only when necessary, improving the responsiveness of the Admin significantly.

The company claims a 40-percent performance improvement. Some 1.1 alpha users reported performance improvements of 70 percent in their tests, while others complained that while the new version is much faster, it remains relatively slow. Many factors can influence the speed of the program, including server and caching settings, so if a store remains slow after upgrading, the store owner should seek out additional measures to improve the store's performance.

International Support Increased

Magento Version 1.0 was a US-centric product. Version 1.1 will see the expansion of Magento into many additional new countries where it was previously impossible to use the program due to tax law limitations. Complex laws in Europe and elsewhere for Value Added Taxation (VAT) formerly required programmers to extend the code. According to Varien's Chief Technology Officer, Yoav Kutner, the team has redesigned the tax module so it is more flexible for international use, as well as for changing taxation laws in the US. Already there are active user forums in nearly 50 languages. Translations of over 60 languages and dialects have been initiated by volunteers with varying degrees of completion, and 23 locales are 85 to 100 percent complete. As a result of these activities and changes, the number of version 1.1 product downloads should spike sharply with significant world-wide interest.

(Continue to Page 2 for more Details of New Features)


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