This year, multiple people commented that there was a kind of awkward feeling in the air. One keynote speaker made a joke saying that awkwardness was whether to hug or shake the hands of everyone he ran into because the community is so tight. I do think the Magento community has a unique family feeling, but I think more of the awkwardness was related to the post-Adobe acquisition and whether the community could trust Adobe, the new Magento overlords. Particularly because of the recent broken promise to make PageBuilder an extension to purchase for Magento Open Source there was a lot of hesitation in the community about what other decisions Adobe+Magento would make to promote Magento Commerce that would be at the expense of the open source product.
And there was also a lot of talk about whether Magento Imagine would even exist in 2020 so I think that air of uncertainty definitely affected the overall feel of the conference. Most of the big official solution partners I talked to were pretty optimistic about the future of Magento+Adobe, but the smaller agencies and partners weren’t sure whether they would be pushed out of the ecosystem.
PWA and Frontend Development
Progressive Web Apps were definitely the hot topic of the conference. With multiple sessions and demos of some pretty cool sites that were taking advantage of some of the newest PWA enabled features. But I had multiple conversations with technology partners and solution partners that expressed a lot of hesitation to dive into the PWA fray. For extension/technology partners the problem is that there’s not a finalized theme/standard that they can build their extensions for. They could create the GraphQL backend data, but that would be expensive and the implementation on the frontend would be unique for every store.
For solution partners, there’s a steep learning curve to pivot to building a PWA frontend and I think everyone is experiencing a bit of frontend whiplash on Magento 2 because of all the drastic changes like UI Components, the less/sass transition, and now PWA Studio. Right now every PWA implementation solution partners are creating is somewhat custom or based on some external solution like Vue Storefront. And long term, it’ll be more costly to maintain those custom solutions because they won’t integrate with many extensions and integrations without additional custom development. If/when Magento 2 has a stable and standardized PWA theme I think that will really accelerate PWA adoption, but there’s no timeline on when that would be so I expect widespread adoption of PWA to be slow.
Magento Cloud and Magento Hosting
Magento is still pushing their cloud product pretty hard. I heard some statistics like their sales of Cloud were over 60% of their new licenses this past year and they’re pushing to get that as high as possible next year. It’s been the worst kept secret that Magento has struggled to stabilize and optimize their cloud product since its announcement a few years ago. No solution partner will publicly criticize Magento Cloud, but when they get a few drinks into the nighttime networking or Legendary event you’ll still hear horror stories of weird performance issues and dismal support wait times. Their scaling still isn’t particularly good so it seems to make less sense for merchants who have highly variable traffic around the holidays or with big sales. The biggest compliment I heard was “It’s gotten better”.
I think one of the biggest appeals of Magento Cloud right now is in the pricing of combining both the Magento Commerce license and hosting into one package. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’ve heard its a pretty big cost savings from having to do both separately. And that’s kind of an awkward proposition for so many historically big Magento hosting partners because Magento is now a direct competitor ever since they announced Magento Cloud. This year Nexcess, one of the biggest Magento hosts, was taking meetings and had an off-site event one night, but they didn’t even have a booth.
This year at Imagine they held the first official Imagine event of the Magento Association and announced signups were open to become a member and what the starting committees would be. From everything Joshua Warren and Rebecca Brocton said it seems like the association has a good foundation and it’ll be exciting to see what becomes of it. Pretty much everyone agrees a really unique thing about the Magento ecosystem is its community and whatever we can do to foster that, especially in the Adobe age, will be good for everyone.
Of course, the giant elephant in the room (but not the PHP elephant!) was the recent Adobe acquisition. I’ll be honest, that I didn’t notice as many Adobe-related changes as I expected to. Adobe acted more as a new premier technology partner rather than a new owner. They, of course, had the biggest booth in the sponsor’s Marketplace with mini-booths dedicated to a lot of relevant Adobe products like Adobe Experience Manager and Creative Cloud, where the demo rep blew my mind with some of the latest Photoshop features, especially incorporating Adobe Sensei. They were a couple of Adobe-related announcements as well like an Adobe Stock integration, but all-in-all I thought their influence was relatively subdued.
Magento 1 and Migrations
Magento was really pushing hard this year for Magento 1 to Magento 2 migrations with the official end of life of Magento 1 coming up in June 2020. If you just look at the schedule this year you’ll see a talk about Magento 1 to Magento 2 migrations just about every time slot so Magento really wants Magento 1 to die.
But anyone who follows me on twitter or reads these blogs will know that I’ve been a big proponent of supporting Magento 1 past the official end of life and for the foreseeable future for merchants who want it. I had a lot of really amazing discussions with hosting providers, extension developers, and integration partners about the prospect of supporting Magento 1 for the foreseeable future and everyone I talked to were very supportive. Maybe the Magento Association will even take a role in coordinating the future Magento 1 development?
Have you heard the good news? Magento 1 isn’t dead yet. It’s feeling much better.
The Future Of Magento Imagine
Every year they announce the dates of the next Imagine at the last keynote. So everyone was waiting with anticipation if they would announce anything or not. Most people expected it to just become a part of the much bigger Adobe Summit conference. At the end of the last keynote, they announced that Magento Imagine would be going on at the “same time” as the Adobe Summit next year. What that means in practice wasn’t made clear. Would they just have a separate Magento track at the Summit? Would the conference go on as planned at the Wynn and attendees will have access to both conferences? I think we’ll have to wait at least a few months to find out.
Also published on Medium.