|Introduction to Magento|
Own a store and want an online version of it. magento provides the right platform you want.On March 31, 2008 Magento was launched to make it easier for online merchants and webmasters to build manageable online stores. Magento eCommerce Platforms provide the scalability, flexibility and features for business growth. Magento is a feature-rich eCommerce platform built on open-source technology that provides online merchants with unprecedented flexibility and control over the look, content and functionality of their eCommerce store. Magento’s intuitive administration interface features provides the merchants to setup the store with just few clicks . Magento comes with admin panel with very useful tools through which the owner moderates everything from orders to the product available to the customers.
Lets have a look at some very useful magento features available through magento admin panel:-
Magento comes with an easy to use catalog management with owners capable of managing the products, their prices, tax Rates per location, customer group, product type and many more.Batch Import and Export of catalog is also available with magento which allow the owners to upload the product information through the csv file. All the catalog related features are available under catalog option on magento admin panel.
Google base integration:-
Google Base integration is available as an out-of-the-box feature. Magento made adding products to Google Base (Google Product Search) a pretty simple process that can be done using Magento’s admin interface. This feature easily makes the products to come on google searches.
Magento's usable interface allows for efficient management of your online channel. Manage multiple stores from one administration panel, including the ability to manage localized international versions of your sites. The owner having two online store one for men and women can manage both the sites through the same admin panel. Furthermore magento supports multiple currencies, fully 100% customizable design using templates, google Website Optimizer Integration and many more amazing features. These are all features can be management through the Sytem tab on admin panel.
Very easy Checkout:-
“One Page Checkout” simplifies the checkout process of your Magento store. Checking out is often the most complicated part of placing an order online, and many users end up abandoning their order. One Page Checkout greatly simplifies this process, leading to an increase in sales. Allow customers to ship items to multiple addresses, input gift messages and more, all in a secure (guest/registered) checkout process make magento more handy and easy to use for customers.
Magento is integrated with a variety of major payment gateways out of the box, as well as alternative payment methods from PayPal, Amazon and Google. Customers can also pay via check/money order, or purchase order and additional payment extensions are available through Magento Connect (Magento e-place for extensions and extra features).
Search Engine Optimization:-
Magento is 100% search engine friendly. One of the most important reason which makes magento top the ecommerce cms is its search engine optimization techniques. Built from the ground up to support SEO, Magento auto-generates SEF URL's, even down to the links in the Layered Navigation, sitemaps for search engine submission as well as for display on site, and a popular search terms page.
View orders, create invoice/receipt and shipment records for Sales Orders and issue Credit Memos (refunds) for customers. Magento also provides the owner to analysis the orders as magento shows the timeline and the amount of the orders placed through graphs. Rss feeds, Email notification of the orders placed makes magento a treat for the store owners.
These all features and many more available features is what makes magento the best ecommerce cms available .Thats not it, magento comes with a marketplace for the distribution of community and commercial Magento products and services through Magento Connect. Many useful themes , extensions and support are provided there. Installation of all these extensions is a child play on magento platform.
A look at the Magento CMS structure:-
Magento implements MVC (Model-View-Controller) model. Magento is well engineered, but it was engineered to be a shopping cart solution that other programmers can build modules on top of. It is based on Zend framework, and the whole thing is very Java OOP-like. The data model is based on the Entity-attribute-value model that stores data objects in tree structures, thus allowing a change to a data structure without changing the database definition.working with Magento requires a lot of learning and re-learning. Magento CMS structure has drawn criticisms from purists.
Thoughts on Development:-
Well what i can say from my development is that magento structure is a complicated one to work on. Magento uses config files consisting of XML to decide what it needs to do. In order to get it to run your own stuff as opposed to core functionality you need the correct xml.Unfortunately there is no guide on how to build you XML; you need to look at examples and do some serious testing. To complicate things the content of these files is largely case-sensitive.However if you master these you can override any part of the basic functionality which makes for a very powerful system.. Magento official documentation is lacking and outdated but there are many external tutorials which can be relied upon. Magento in its latest versions changed its directory structure. So shifting gears to the updated version from the previous versions can take time. Theming is made easy by its some very good development features (one such is template path hints). Developing an extension for the community needs a very good understanding of its MVC structure but developing a commercial extensions can be a much profitable task as the magento extensions are over rated.
What is amazing about Magento platform is in less than one year it has rocketed to the top of Google search volume trends. Today the project is supported by Varien, an Open Source eCommerce software development and consulting firm who started the project, and an ever-growing community of over lakh users and developers.
Magento was awarded “Best New Open Source Project” by the 2008 SourceForge.net Community Choice Awards. In August, Magento was awarded “Best of Open Source Enterprise Applications” by the 2008 InfoWorld.com BOSSIE Awards. Forrester Research, the leading technology and market research firm, named Magento as an “Emerging Player To Watch” in its Forrester Wave™: B2C eCommerce Platforms Report, Q1 2009. The growth has just been incredible!.
Personally, I have been using this platform for a little over 8 months now . The feature-set is truly an amazing combination of technology. I wish there were more documentation, but it’s still pretty early for all that and I know the community is actively working on this with the wiki,screencasts, phpdocs, Webinars etc. A amazing future awaits magento that’s for sure.