Magento 2 Development – a Star Digital web developer’s diary

Magento 2 development began in earnest back in the Spring of 2016, as our first Magento 2 client was commissioned, ExpressCo Direct based here in Northampton – with 9 storefronts to build out on a single Magento 2 plarform. After monitoring the feedback from other developers and their early experiences of Magento 2 development, we were ready for a learning curve. And it proved to be a steep one!

Magento 2 – Plagued by initial bug ridden release

We got to work using version 2.0.3 on the first install. Coupled with our lack of experience, which was the case for every developer at the time, it was an experience to say the least! This version was heavily bug laden and not production ready. The Magento development team had clearly released it too early and were hoping that the Magento developer community would iron out the issues. We soldiered on, but some of the bugs we found were worse than originally expected: – JavaScript issues within the checkout infrastructure that meant checkout configurations were genuinely unstable and unpredictable; from user session to session. – Performance issues across the Magento administration area caused numerous problems, adding significant developer time to every task undertaken. It led to a very challenging base from which to deploy new code. – Bugs in the LESS compilation process made it difficult to work with, it wouldn’t always regenerate CSS files when in developer mode with client side LESS compilation, so we had to recompile code via the command line to see any changes. We upgraded Magento versions in the middle of the build of the first storefront –, to version .2.0.7 and found some improvement. Performance and speed of the admin area were slightly better but the platform was still not production ready. As we had reached UAT on the first storefront (Some 3 months behind schedule) we then moved on to build out on this version.   Garden & Camping and Carp Zone, very early Magento 2 development projects by Star Digital Garden & Camping and Carpzone were very early Magento 2 (2.03 and 2.07 respectively) builds that illustrated a lot of bugs in the core product.   Magento then ran some big PR around the 2.1 version stating that 2.1.1, would be the saviour, so this version was used to build three further storefronts which are about to launch as we write this. Finally, some new functionality had been introduced that improved deployment and compilation tasks. Performance across the entire platform was a lot better than the first version. With more experience and these latest improvements, we could finally find our way around the platform and gained confidence in the systems new found stability.

Magento 2 development becomes more stable

Now we’re working with version 2.1.4 which will be used to build the final 4 storefronts. We’re confident with this platform now and believe it to be production ready. We have no real issues with performance but there are still some annoying little bugs, especially a bug on checkouts that only have 1 address line. Others include: – If there is no Minicart on the site, Magento 2 throws up a Java Script error. However, this version is a lot better and now that the majority of bugs are fixed, project times are reducing – a win, win for us and our clients As every version gets better, and our confidence grows on Magento 2, we are putting our past experiences behind us and looking forward to getting our hands dirty on more Magento 2 projects, also allowing us to start delivering more of the clever innovations we have implemented on Magento 1 sites into these new Magento 2 development projects. The only caveat we would add for clients looking at Magento 2 development is that the total cost of ownership (TCO) could be higher due to ongoing maintenance fees where elements are not working as intended. And if you are not working fixed fee with your developers, be ready for some hefty billing. The ExpressCo project has gone well over budget.

Magento 2 alternatives can be worth consideration

For some clients that don’t have complex integration or module customisation on their web sites it might be worth looking at something like Shopify or Shopware as the TCO is much lower when you consider ghosting, patching and upgrades are all inclusive. We would recommend smaller boutique and niche retailers investigate these other solutions as the speed to market, development cost and post launch ease of use are generally much easier than with Magento.   If you have Magento 2 development RFI’s please do continue to send them over and we will be happy to quote for Community and Enterprise builds. For more information or to for any questions, please get in touch with us on 01604 696385 or email

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