I posted way back at the end of June on my use of Magento over Cubecart. Well it’s been seven months since then and I’ve had a few people asking how things are going …so here are a few thoughts.
My first Magento store is now open and doing pretty well. There were a few …well, lots of problems along the way, but most have been ironed out. I think a lot of it is learning how to use Magento properly – and I’m still learning.
I had to sit down with my client for a good few hours at the beginning so we could figure out how to do product options. She’s now pretty proficient at it, so despite being amazingly complicated, it appears to be manageable.
One of the major problems I had was with uploading images. Each time we attempted to upload an image everything would seem to upload ok but then Magento would act like you didn’t upload anything and then log you out on the next reload. After extensive trawling through the Magento forums I discovered that two lines in a php.ini file were all that was needed to fix the problem (
extension=pdo_mysql.so). I think that the fact that Magento was unable to prevent this or figure it out for itself shows its age.
Another feature which shows Magento’s age, and actually makes it feel like it’s still in beta, is table rate shipping. It sounds perfect in concept, and the usage instructions on the website are pretty comprehensive, but it simply doesn’t work. Not just for me either, so many people were posting comments about its problems
I think my biggest problem I’ve had, actually a humongous massive problem was with updating Magento. I dread updates and avoid new addons. On the surface the process seems very automated and straight forward, but I’ve tried several times now and none have been unproblematic to the extent that the Magento installation usually ends up completely broken. I was only able to fix the problems by doing fresh installs. Magento is so obese that the length of time it takes to back it up (especially once its populated with products) renders updating and extending completely impractical in my opinion. Furthermore, customising a skin is incredibly complicated to start with, but maintaining one between Magento updates is simply painful.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve decided that Magento’s rich feature set completely kicks Cubcart’s arse. Product options, associated products, and discount codes are amazing and the one page checkout is pretty good too, but many features still seem unpolished, and user-unfriendly. However before Magento can assume dominance in the online commerce market, I think it needs to transform from a online shopping cart with very limited CMS functionality into a full CMS with complete commerce functionality.
Finally, and most importantly, a stable and reliable method of updating which does not require impractical backups and does not break skins is paramount for any progression.