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Magento - how it began

It is hard to believe now but seven years has passed since Magento was first released back in 2007. There have been many successes and failures, many problems and solutions during these years, three Magento editions have been developed constantly upgrading their versions. Let us remember how it all began, what were the expectations when the new eCommerce CMS was making its first ‘beta’ steps. The following interview with Roy Rubin, now former Varien CEO, was published on www.ecommerceoptimization.com in July, 2007.

Magento eCommerce Solution Overview & Introduction:

Many eCommerce developers, along with merchant sellers, have been eagerly anticipating the upcoming release of Varien’s new Open Source eCommerce Solution named Magento (like the color magenta, not magneto of x-men). Varien is currently one of the most renowned osCommerce development companies in existence and continues to set industry trends, build better strategies and help their customers improve the way they do business Online.

Magento is the open-source eCommerce platform that promises to revolutionize the industry. It’s modular architecture and unprecedented flexibility means your business is no longer constrained by your eCommerce platform. Magento is total control.

With the many changes in eCommerce over the years, developers and merchants have seen a huge need to build on a more flexible, robust, scalable eCommerce platform. Varien is hoping to fill that need by releasing the mother of all open source eCommerce solutions. Will Magento live up to all the hype? Definitely! I can tell you from what I’ve seen of their platform, that it is no joke. These guys have put in tons of man hours, have dedicated years of industry experience, provided unique insights and received mass amounts of feedback from the ones who matter most, users. One thing is for sure, they really understand the needs of the merchants, search engines, customers and many of the other aspects that make up the world of eCommerce. Varien has great customers, who make money. Plus, they have built some of the nicest osCommerce powered sites and Wordpress powered eCommerce sites I have seen. I can’t imagine what they can accomplish without limits - let’s see a glimpse!

Roy Rubin, Varien CEO, Answers 10 Important Questions About Magento:

How long has Magento been in delevopment? What’s the expected launch date?

Magento has been in development since January 2007 and a beta is expected to launch in August.

What are the main differences between Magento and oScommerce?

There will be many differences, I’ve listed a few highlights below:

  • Architecture - one of the biggest issues with osCommerce has been upgrades. Once custom modifications are done, there is no way to upgrade. With Magento customizations to existing functionality simply extend the base, making upgrade a possibility.
  • Plug-in/modules/packages - osCommerce has no real good way to install new features. You have to go through the code and add/edit lines, making this an almost impossible task if any changes have been done to the code. With Magento, you’ll be able to install new modules relatively easily without getting into the code much.
  • Templating - a true 100% template system making any design and functionality requirements possible. No limitation whatsoever.
  • Enterprise level code and scaling - performance has been a huge issue we wanted to address.
  • A truly flexible system.
  • Since Magento will be backed by Varien there will be a clear roadmap and transparency to the project. Companies can count on the continuation of the project and enterprise level support and services.

eCommerce platform providers are popping up all over. What are some of the things that make Megento different from other shopping carts.

See some of the highlights above.

How easy will Magento be to use? Should merchants know programming, theming or have other technical experience?

Magento can be used out-of-the-box as is in many cases. We’ll provide a number of themes/templates to use so that merchants can apply a look-a-feel they prefer. We also expect the community to contribute layouts as soon as the project is launched. In order to benefit from the true power and flexibility of Magento, technical knowledge will be required. If you are looking to change the layout/design - HTML knowledge should be sufficient.

What impact do you think Magento will have on the industry and especially Open Source delevopment?

It is our hope that Magento will lead the open source eCommerce space. Based on the feedback and response we have received so far, we feel confident in making this happen. We have a long road ahead of us, but with the community’s help and our team’s dedication we feel Magento will make a huge impact in the eCommerce world.

What do you mean by Magento gives “total control”?

Total Control is 100% flexibility. Many eCommerce solutions have inherent constraints and business owners have traditionally tailored their business to the eCommerce platform of their choosing. With Magento it will work the other way around, putting the merchants back in control. No more constraints and no more limitations. That is our goal.

Do you plan on running a Magento powered store yourself?

Absolutely. We’ll have a store at some point in the next few months to illustrate just that (selling Magento gear). We feel confident in our solution and so do the hundreds of merchants that have contacted us so far.

How did you get into eCommerce and what’s your favorite thing about this industry?

Varien started as a web development and design firm and we stumbled across eCommerce back in 2003. We’ve been providing industry leading solutions ever since. The industry is very dynamic and we’ve been fortunate to work with very large clients that have incredible insight and drive in this industry. We have become passionate advocates.

What do you think the future of eCommerce will look like and where will Magento be in 5 years?

Well - it will certainly continue to grow. Demand for eCommerce services will certainly grow as the industry matures. In 5 years, Magento will be the standard of open source eCommerce and have thousands of sites across the web.

What rough percentage of merchants will be able to use Magento and have it meet ALL their needs?

“ALL” is a tricky word. I don’t feel there is one eCommerce system that meets every single need of every single merchant. Magento will be very close (and certainly closer than others) - the difference is that with Magento, the merchant has the control and possibility to complete anything they see as missing. With other platforms it’s simply not possible.

As we can see now, Varien developers were right about the popularity and the impact their innovational eCommerce system would have. After 7 years and despite numerous competitors, Magento is still popular and used by merchants all over the world. Although, it is owned by eBay as of June 2011, it keeps growing and providing online business owners with powerful and easy-to-use platform for building their online stores. Many companies have built their business developing plug-ins and modules for Magento which extend the system functionality and provide new features to the online stores. One of these companies is GoMage. And until there is at least one single user of Magento we will continue provide quality extensions and services to our customers all over the world.

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