Magento Platform Posts

Aheadworks Product Owner Stanislav Golodov: “Often, a Challenge Requires Thinking Out of the Box”

What is the way a new product passes from the idea to market? What does the Magento extensions market require most of all? Is product management mostly about brilliant insights or routine data analysis?

We are talking to Stanislav Golodov, Aheadworks product owner celebrating today his 5-th anniversary in the company.

STANISLAV GOLODOV

STANISLAV GOLODOV
AHEADWORKS PRODUCT OWNER
5+ Years of Product Management Experience

AW: Hi Stanislav, great to talk to you on this day when you are celebrating such a notable anniversary. First of all, I congratulate you on this occasion. Hope you’ll continue your great mission in our company making more and more high-quality products for Magento stores.

Our readers are keen on diving deep into the specific features of the product owner’s work at Aheadworks and hearing the latest product news and future plans. So, tell us a bit about your duties and what your work is about.

Stanislav: The main task for me is to look for the Magento functionality bottlenecks disturbing most of our customers, find appropriate solutions for them, and determine if a certain product solving that problem is going to be in demand. Of course, we aim to resolve issues with our products in the most efficient ways.

In order to offer only hottest product features you need to track both customer feature requests and global ecommerce shifts.

The process for designing a product is the following. I investigate market demands, find some possible solutions, estimate them and choose the best variant, and then prepare a detailed product specification. As soon as the product is at the development stage, I also look through the very  process of coding in order to make sure that the implementation doesn’t differ from my initial idea.

Upon the release I still follow the product in the market and determine the functionality scopes for updates. In order to offer only hottest product features you need to track both customer feature requests and global ecommerce shifts.

aheadWorks CTO on Introducing Automated Tests to M2 Products

We’ve talked a lot about shifting more attention to the quality of our code and working towards easier customization of our products.

Today we’ve called out our CTO to talk about what is being done in that direction and what is yet to be done in the future.

aheadWorks CTO, Peter Samoilov

PETER SAMOILOV
AHEADWORKS CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER
10+ Years of Development Experience

aW: So, Peter, we understand it’s all about automated testing currently. Would you mind giving a quick intro?

Peter: An automated test is, basically, an additional code that checks the validity of the software or a part of the software. There are multiple benefits to having it, some of which include higher product quality, lower costs of consecutive version development, testing software in a specific environment, easier code refactoring, etc.

Automated tests provide higher product quality, lower costs of consecutive version development, testing software in a specific environment, easier code refactoring, etc.

aW: Why do M2 modules require automated testing?

Peter: Tech-wise, M2 is much more complicated than M1, and that goes for modules as well. This means that writing code requires a much more thorough approach. On top of that M2 is a young platform and there is not much expertise out there and virtually no experienced specialists. Put all of this together and you get a pretty high risk of screwing something up, starting from algorithms and ending with architecture. Automated tests help to mitigate that risk.

Also, unlike with M1, with M2 we get a testing framework out of the box, which is another hint to all module vendors.

aW: What are your expectations from automated test implementation?

Peter: First, we simply want to take our extensions to the level above what we had at M1. Our intention is to have high quality products, closer to what you get at “enterprise” level.

Great Offer for Our Customers: 50% Discount on Magento 2 Extensions

Today, when Magento 2 is released, most of you consider it as the next ecommerce destination and explore the existing M2 environment in order to estimate the advantages of migration.

50% Discount on Magento 2 Extensions for Our Customers

The new platform grows exponentially constantly attracting new dedicated extensions and services, vendors and providers, technical approaches and price strategies. Within the Magento 2 ecosystem, we are committed to providing our customers with a reliable way for smooth and rapid switching to the new platform as soon as they are ready for this transformation.

50% Discount for M1 Customers

Coming into the Magento 2 era we do our best to provide extensions covering most required functionality areas and offer our M1 customers tools necessary to get up to speed with their Magento 2 stores.

Today, aheadWorks Magento 1 customers have a unique opportunity to purchase Magento 2 extensions at the 50% discount.

Any of our M1 customers, regardless of the products they purchased* and regardless of the license statuses, are able to get any Magento 2 products from our catalog 50% off.

In order to streamline you successful launch on Magento 2 we also offer free installation and extended up to 180 days support and updates period for all M2 products.

* Excluding free products, their support licences and Advanced Reports units.

How It Works

  • Ensure you are under the account you used for M1 purchases;
  • Enter coupon M1M2 on the shopping cart page;
  • Use it for any number of products.

New aheadWorks CEO Natallia Kukuruzina: “We Implement New Advanced Development Principles”

Today we talk to Natallia Kukuruzina, a new aheadWorks CEO, who brings new approaches to the development of our products and company as a whole.

New aheadWorks CEO, Natallia Kukuruzina

NATALLIA KUKURUZINA
AHEADWORKS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Master of Business Administration, Master of Engineering.

Natallia Kukuruzina is a highly-experienced strategic manager working for 10 years in IT mainly focusing on foreign contractors and early project launches. Natallia possesses vast experience in team building, process establishing, and business administration.

Interview

aW: Hi, Natallia! Do you mind answering a few questions about the future of aheadWorks, the prospects of Magento 2, and the market in general?

Natallia: Sure! I’ll be glad to take this chance to talk to our customers and share our plans for the future.

aW: Great! Let’s start with an introduction then.

Natallia: Well, I’m an involved person, I love working with other people, I enjoy my work and I welcome challenges.  (smiling…) I’ve been an aheadWorks CMO for over a year now and today I’m  excited to join the company as a CEO. I’m extremely intrigued with the Magento 2 platform and new opportunities it promises.

Our primary task is to provide early adopters with must-have tools and ensure quick and smooth uptake of the new technology.

aW: Welcome aboard! And, since you mentioned it, let’s focus on Magento 2 for a minute. What are your expectations for the platform and how does it affect aheadWorks? Scared? Excited?

Natallia: A little bit of both, naturally. But, it’s worth mentioning that we came prepared for Magento 2. By the time it launched we already had 5 fully tested extensions in our M2 portfolio which are available for the purchase now and we are planning to expand it by a few more before the year runs out. So, for now, our primary task is to provide early adopters with must-have tools and ensure quick and smooth uptake of the new technology.

As to the platform itself, I expect great things. Magento 2 is extremely powerful, compared to the first version it provides store owners with many more e-commerce opportunities. Recent innovations have streamlined the checkout process, created wider SEO opportunities,  offered improved admin grid,  better PCI compliance, and much more.

As an extension provider, our job is to embrace these changes and find a way to take them a step further. We look carefully at new opportunities, at needs of our clients, and we find ways to add value to their business.

We already have 5 fully tested extensions in our Magento 2 portfolio.

aW: Are you planning any changes in your business strategy and product development process with the advent of Magento 2?

Natallia:Yes, it’s inevitable. We currently stand on the edge of new era, when previous approaches are no longer applicable, while the new ones are not yet entirely formed. And I’m not just talking about the code, the whole ecosystem is about to change.

Magento DIY Overview: The Book + Magento + a Lot of Patience = Your First E-Store

Starting a new ecommerce business is an extraordinary challenge, but it becomes much simpler, when you have a wise adviser able to keep you from making mistakes and save tons of your time.

Magento DIY Overview

Those ecommerce beginners who consider Magento to be a good option for their first e-store, would likely confirm that even this arguably simple decision took a huge amount of their efforts. Meanwhile, it’s not even a start; it’s just a preparation.

The wisest solution in this case is to find a useful, intuitive, and professional guide for Magento beginners. And, we can offer you the one that is worth your attention – Magento DIY, Magento Guide by Victor Khliupko and the Firebear Studio team.

According to the intro, you need just this book, Magento, and a lot of patience to start your first ecommerce store. Well, let’s see.

Guide Overview

The book content features five chapters: Setup, Sales Generation, Growth, Enterprise, and Custom Magento Development. As you can see, its logic is built on the stages of your Magento store cycle. It covers installation, configuration, tips on a successful start and growth, and further guidance till the enterprise scale.

Along with the detailed technical support the guide offers multiple useful links and information sources commented by the author. So, the book describers Magento and the surrounding ecommerce environment reflected through the prism of the editorial attitude and experience.

Magento 2 Release Blossoms Forth the New Era of Ecommerce

Magento 2.0 is finally out. We witness a historical day!

Magento 2 Release

We are very excited with this great moment touching the whole formidable Magento community and, no doubt, global eCommerce as well.

A New Era of  Commerce Innovation is Here

Magento 2 is available in two new products: Magento Enterprise Edition 2.0 and Magento Community Edition 2.0. The new platform embodies the future of ecommerce software functionality and development.

Based on its open source traditions Magento 2 provides all online customers and store owners with an enterprise-level performance and productivity. It rises on the basis of innovative architecture, amazing shopping experience, and advanced scalability.

It’s been definitely a long way full of complex challenges and ardent work. And, the result is fully worth the effort providing the pioneering state-of-the-art digital commerce platform.

Today, we are sincerely happy for the Magento team and hope that the new ecommerce solution will strengthen its position among most powerful and popular e-platforms worldwide.

aheadWorks is Headed for Magento 2.0

aheadWorks passionately welcomes this glorious milestone taking a proactive position in order to make Magento 2 even more sterling ecommerce solution.

We made a great leap forward in our approach to design and development of our M2 extensions. We improve our  products betting on the easily customizable code, approved frontend functionality, refined backend interface and usability.

At this very moment our Magento 2 portfolio contains five ready-to-go extensions, representing our best ecommerce experience. Starting from Advanced Reports, Follow Up Email, Product Questions, Gift Card, and Automatic Related Products we gradually speed up the process of development and soon will be able to announce our next Magento 2 modules.

Currently, the above extensions are passing the Magento 2 compatibility verification procedure and will be available for purchase shortly. Still, right now you can find their demos in our store.

Follow us for further updates in our blog and social media.

Conclusion

With the advent of Magento 2 our ultimate goal is to cover main business areas with M2 functionality extensions as soon as possible without any quality compromises. For this purpose, we have significantly revised our approach to code, usability, and functionality of our modules and are confident that we can provide even better products as a result.

Once again, we congratulate Magento on this historical and revolutionary achievement and wish it to reach new business horizons.

New JavaScript Malware Issue: Make Sure Your Store is Secured

Recently Magento notified its users and partners about another security issue concerning sensitive payment information, in particular credit card credentials forwarded to external sites by frauds.

New JavaScript Malware Issue

The good thing is that this security issue is covered by the February 2015 Shoplift patch, still we ask you to scan your system and check it for any unknown files.

Safety Measures

The new JavaScript malware exploits your security weaknesses and forwards customers’ credit cards information from checkout pages to external sites. Intruders likely use Admin or database accesses, so please:

Please make sure that your Magento store is secured and safe for your customers. More information about this malicious code is available on Magento Security Center.

The Freshest Magento 2 Installation

The starting point for exploring the broad advantages and capabilities of Magento 2 is to download and install the platform.

Magento 2 Installation

Despite the awesome functionality Magento 2 is harder to install than the previous version of software. This necessitated the emergence of multiple installation guides across the Internet. But, most of them point at the manual way of installation, or cast a lot of console spells to install different server-side software, or just loose their relevance gradually.

On the other hand, there is a bunch of ready Magento 2 stores installed in online demos, but most of them are also outdated. Besides, in this case you can’t play around with files, command-line scripts, tests, etc.

Rapid obsolescence is pretty natural since Magento 2 is still in Beta and the code is subject to change until the GA release. Nevertheless, our ultimate goal is to overcome this obstacle and always have available a fresh Magento 2 version.

Below we share, we believe, a great way to install the latest Magento 2 any time you follow this guide. The solution uses Vagrant and Puppet to setup a full-featured Ubuntu box with Magento2 inside. All you need is to install VirtualBox and Vagrant, launch a couple of commands, and enjoy the freshest M2 already running.

Magento 2 Installation

Vagrant Configuration to Run Magento 2

This Vagrant configuration sets up the required environment and installs the latest available Magento 2 running on Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS (Trusty Tahr).

Box Contents

  • Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS (Trusty Tahr);
  • Apache 2.4 with mods enabled;
  • MySQL 5.6;
  • PHP 5.5.9 with all the extensions required for Magento 2;
  • Composer;
  • Git.

Magento 2 Glossary for Non-Techies or How It’s Made

The changes introduced for Magento 2 are significant and developers, merchants and the others involved in Magento need to know the specifics of the new platform since it is almost here.

Magento 2 Features in One Glossary

This knowledge will help to understand the advantages provided by the Magento 2 and the specifics of its usage. Primarily oriented towards store owners the Glossary below describes most prominent Magento 2 features in plain language.

Magento 2 Features in One Glossary

Composer

Composer is a packages management system for PHP widely used in Magento. Currently Magento 2 can be completely downloaded and installed via Composer, and the team seems to continue developing it for further implementations. It is used to install/uninstall third-party extensions, add new libraries, etc.

Dependency Injections

Dependency injections are the processes of object isolation via constructors aiming to make classes and objects independent for further easier development and testing. The back side of this procedure is that it creates larger code snippets, which are harder for debugging.

Docker

Docker is an open-source software automating the deployment of application in dedicated software containers. The Docker’s special advantage useful for the Magento 2 development is that it doesn’t require a separate operating system to be run within the virtualized container.

GitHub

Magento 2 uses GitHub as an official repository  from the outset. The dedicated section of the service contains both Magento and community contributions, including official Magento versions and related documentation, extensions, supporting software, etc.

Magento 2 Extensions: Our View

Now, with the advent of the Magento 2 Merchant beta we realize that just a short time remains before the great shift in the ecommerce world – the final launch of Magento 2. This long-awaited leap is going to be quite a hard challenge for the whole community and for us personally as a Magento extension provider.

So, what are the main features of Magento 2 plugins and how will they affect both vendors and merchants? We asked our Magento 2 Development Team to answer our questions on the topic.

Magento 2 Extensions Development Process

fedor_morozov_photo

FEDOR MOROZOV
AHEADWORKS DEVELOPER

aW: What are the differences of the Magento 2 extensions development process compared to Magento 1?

Fedor: Magento 2 extensions development involves a more structured approach: more classes, objects, new code patterns, xml, xsd. Today, Magento is much closer to the “enterprise style”. You also need some time to embrace Magento 2 coding standards, but it is actually not more complicated than to port to Magento 1 from other ecommerce solutions.

Thanks to the new mechanisms, the integration into the system became simpler and more transparent. And, the architecture of Magento 2 provides a big order, encapsulation, and modules’ independence.

Magento 2 Demo

In our previous post we wrote about the changes that Magento 2 brought to the backend and frontend interface, and now you can explore them with your own eyes in our Magento 2 demo store.

The frontend of each store largely depends on the implemented theme, configuration and integrated extensions and can be surprisingly different from the default view. In our demo store we tried to mainly keep unchanged the default user interface to let you have an idea of the starting point you approach right after the installation.

Magento Welcome

As for the backend interface it is more static and you’ll be able to recognize the Magento 2 admin area on any store you ever visit.

Magento 2 Demo Store Backend

The first striking change of the Magento 2 backend is the changed color scheme provided for Magento admins. The blue-to-gray palette of Magento 1.x is changed to more contrast fields and blocks in black and white.

New Backend Interface of Magento 2

This year Imagine 2015 was held on the eve of Magento 2 release and a great part of the conference content was devoted to its new features and functionality.

Magento 2 at Imagine 2015

Magento 2 made three sessions at Imagine 2015 and was the major topic of the first conference day. Ten ad hoc presentations on the topic were provided by the Magento Development Team and community experts on Monday, April 20:

  • Magento 2 backend admin UX and framework changes;
  • Magento 2 configuration;
  • Migrating merchant data and themes to Magento 2;
  • Code customizations;
  • Code generation principles;
  • Caching optimization for Magento code development;
  • Magento 2 performance and scalability;
  • Refactoring into TDD / BDD.

Magento 2 Backend Admin UX and Framework Changes

We all put a lot on Magento 2 and want it to be able to change the world of ecommerce, improve and intensify Magento solution. We clearly realize that it should be a differently new product, but what are the directions of changes and what is the priority approach to its functionality, structure and design development?

One of the most noticeable novelties for Magento admins is the change of backend interface implemented in Magento 2. And, if other preseentations are full of developer oriented technical details, Magento 2 admin interface is close and clear for merchants as well. Especially that the new Magento 2 interface is mostly designed for non-technical users, according to Jonathan Atkins, Head of Product Design and UX.

There are two main reasons inspiring Magento admin user interface changes – complexity and users focus. These both aims are closely linked together.

Since the new design is primarily created for Magento merchants, it was necessary to make it more simple and effective. Assumed to be a “business tool for business users” the new interface looks greatly different from Magento 1.

New Look and Feel

Starting from the very beginning the new look and feel deserve special attention. The Magento 2 backend interface obtained improved usability and modern flat design, which is touch-friendly with larger click/tap targets.

New Magento Forum – Achievements and Perspectives

Several months ago new Magento Forum was presented to the community. What are the perspectives of the new communication platform and how does it reflect the expectations of multiple users and developers?

New Magento Forum

To be honest, each of us was sure that the old forum could no longer exist as it was and needed some fundamental changes. And, most likely, the decision to replace it with something totally new was right in those circumstances. As most of the community, we believe that it was a great idea and today we enjoy the result.

The only controversial thing is the decision to irrevocably delete the old forum base. Heavily discussed this topic was closed with the consensus that it was a forced action, which actually had no alternatives due to the extremely spammy condition of the previous forum.

Getting down to the forum we’d like to start from the general impression created by its design and structure.

New Magento Forum Structure

The new design and structure are cleaner and simpler allowing even beginning users to instantly catch the main content and navigation elements.

attention_greenCurrently Magento forum is based on Lithium – the provider of social management software.

Made in official Magento colors within a two-column layout the  Magento forum has 5 main sections: Community, Core Technology, Extensions, General Discussions and International Communities.

Implement Security Patches Immediately

Magento takes security seriously and asks its users to do the same.

Magento Security

Maintaining thousands of ecommerce stores Magento has always been a tasty morsel for numerous online criminals and now they’ve got a real opportunity to tear off a piece of this pie.

IMPORTANT The urgency of the latest security patches implementation has increased significantly since Magento shoplift (SUPEE-5344) exploits are detected in the wild.

Remote Code Execution Vulnerability

This remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability was found by Check Point and reported to Magento on January 14, 2015. Affecting both Magento Community and Enterprise editions the vulnerability is able to compromise any Magento-based web store and allow criminals to obtain complete control over the store and its sensitive data, including personal customer information.

On February 9, 2015 Magento released the SUPEE-5344 security patch and asked store owners to download and implement it first in a test environment and then on live sites.

But, by the time of the public disclosure (April 20, 2015) the overwhelming majority of Magento sites had not yet implemented the security patch and remained vulnerable for fraud attacks.

According to Sucuri, less than in 24 hours after the discloser they started to register attacks exploiting current vulnerability. Seemingly, they come from the same criminals using 62.76.177.179 and 185.22.232.218 IP addresses in Russia.

The malicious code tries to create a fake admin user in the Magento database leveraging SQL injections. If you suspect that your Magento store became the subject of attacks, try to find next usernames in your database: admin_user and ypwq, as these are the names they are using so far.

Protect Yourself

In order to protect your store Magento recommends you to implement both SUPEE-5344 and SUPEE-1533 security patches.

The patches and installation instructions are available on Magentocommerce.com.

You can also test your site for safety using Magento Shoplift Bug Tester v1.0 by Byte.

Conclusion

The increasingly frequent use of online stores brings security issues to the fore and makes merchants to plan their business in strict compliance with security rules and recommendations.

We also try to focus on the Magento security in our blog since we consider it to be as much important as store functionality and user experience. So, we encourage you to follow Magento security recommendations and keep your customers safe.

Have any comments? Add them below, please.

Llama Commerce – an Excellent Option for Transition from Magento Go and ProStores

Recently Magento announced the upcoming transition of all merchants using Magento Go and ProStores to other eCommerce platforms, as the support and further development of these products are terminated by February, 2015.

Such migration raises several issues to the affected merchants and the first one of them is the choice of a worthy successor for their business among other eCommerce platforms. Still taking care about customers, Magento offers several transition options most suitable for smooth and full-value migration, which are featured in the newly created Migration Centers.

One of the few recommended products is the Llama Commerce Platform.

This product is designed for those merchants who need more flexibility and control than provided by SaaS solutions and seek a platform for development and enlargement.

Llama Commerce Platform

The Llama Commerce Platform extends Magento with extremely valuable features, such as advanced user interface, new predefined widgets, or ready-installed Magento extensions for clear and straightforward shopping experience. As a result, Magento Community or Enterprise editions together with the Llama Commerce Platform are able to provide the necessary impact to your business.

The platform is available in three options: Quick Launch, Jumpstart, and Custom build. All the provided options have their own advantages and are aimed to handle different sizes of businesses.

In order to make your transition even easier, Classy Llama developed a special offer for its customers. So, if you enter the platform with the Simple Helix hosting, you receive the next additional benefits within the Quick Launch or Jumpstart options:

  • Free migration of your Magento Go data (customers, orders, products);
  • Free 60 days of hosting for e-Cart hosting plans;
  • Free SSL certificate.

Thus, the challenge you face is more an unexpected offering rather than unpleasant event, as the transition to Llama Commerce Platform provides a new promising opportunity for your business. So, examine all the pros of the product and step forward without regrets.

If you have something to add to this product, please share your ideas in comments below.