Or: The Chicken and the Egg Delema
NOTE: The thoughts and views expressed here are my own. They are not representative of my employer’s views
The Chicken (or is it the egg?)
Magento 2 was released back in November. I have a pretty hard and fast rule on not doing Magento upgrades or using new versions for projects for at least 3 months. This rule is due to the poor QA that Magento has had (we were bitten pretty hard by this on an EE 1.12 project and let’s all not forget the initial release of EE 1.13). This policy has worked well for the M1 releases since. However, there are problems with that strategy for M2.
Where are all the 3rd party extensions?
For those who don’t realize this, extension development is an expensive process. There is the initial build of the extension, marketing (just like you, they have to make sure people know they exist and have a product to sell), and then there are all the support costs for maintaining it (customer emails/calls, bug fixes, etc…). Providers don’t make a lot of money on extensions because of this (even the $500 extensions are still low profit margin. I don’t even get how a provider can sell an extension at $100 or less). What does that mean for you, the merchant? A provider needs to have a LOT of demand for extensions before they can justify the expense of building them. If there are only a few merchants on M2, then it is risky for a developer to spend time on building extensions for the platform. Fortunately, there are at least a handful of providers that have made the leap and built out extensions for M2. Some of this is thanks to the Merchant Beta program that Magento sponsored over the summer. Merchants in the beta program created early demand for extensions.
The dilemma: Economics 101
This brings us to the issue at hand. If you argue “we will just wait for more extensions to exist in the market”, then you are lowering the demand. If you lower the demand, providers will lower the supply (eg, they won’t move to M2 either). They need to see that M2 is going to be successful (we all hope and believe it will, but providers can’t pay their bills with hope and belief. They need something more tangible). Does this mean you should bite the bullet and upgrade? I can’t make that decision for you. What I can offer is this advice: If you can either [temporarily] reduce your required feature set or afford the higher cost of custom development that replaces extensions you have on M1 that don’t yet exist for M2, then by all means upgrade away. With M2, Magento has built in a lot of testing tools that their development team makes use of. In theory, this should improve the overall quality of the core and should alleviate my concerns on upgrading earlier than 3 months after a release. (I’m still hesitant here though, mostly out of past experience. I need to see it to believe it)
The cheap route is a myth and the cake is a lie
If you can’t reduce your feature set or are unwilling to pay for custom development of existing extensions, keep in mind that I fully expect M2 extensions to be more expensive than M1 extensions. Providers who gamble and become early adopters have a smaller market to recoup their costs from. They also have a learning curve to cross in moving to M2 development. No matter how Magento tries to spin things, M2 is a replatform. No M1 code, theme, etc… will work as-is on M2. It ALL has to be touched. Not even the database is upgradable. You must run a migration tool. A “migration tool” is only used when moving from one platform to another. This also means your overall project costs will be higher. How much higher? Only time will tell. The migration tool does help quite a bit in moving the data from M1 to M2. Additionally, there are tools available to make conversion of extensions easier (not easy, just easier).
Change is inevitable. If you are a merchant on the Magento platform, you will have to upgrade at some point. If you are a merchant considering moving to Magento, you have a tough decision to make. M1 vs M2. One has a vast marketplace of extension providers. The other is the future. I have high hopes for M2. I enjoy developing on it and I think it has good opportunity to bring in developers from other communities.