Magento 1 and OpenMage

If you have a Magento e-commerce platform, you have most likely wondered whether to switch to Magento 2 (M2). There are numerous benefits to making the jump, and it’s a jump we have helped many clients make. However, despite those benefits, it can be a daunting task, and it can seem worthwhile to make Magento 1 (M1) work for as long as possible. Unfortunately, because Adobe ended support for M1, it’s not feasible for businesses to remain on the platform.

However, when M1 went through end of life, the development community had already been working hard at keeping M1 alive in one form or another. One of the most popular efforts to maintain M1 is an Open Source project known as OpenMage. In this blog post, we’ll review what OpenMage is, why you might consider it, and its drawbacks.

What Magento End of Life Meant

When M1 went through end of life, Adobe ceased all dedicated support for the platform. That meant they stopped offering M1 extensions on their marketplace, removed all download links and support links from their sites, and stopped releasing patches for critical bugs and security issues. Even if you had an outside team that was interested in supporting M1, it was no longer possible to remain on that technology.

Over the lifespan of Magento, the development community had been patching and refining the core code. Originally this was done in concert with Adobe. Once Adobe stopped working on it, that meant the community needed to press on independently. That independent effort is what has led to the fork of the Magento open source core known as OpenMage

How OpenMage Kept Magento 1 Alive

Open source projects are public, community-driven efforts to create and maintain software services that the private sector doesn’t provide. OpenMage is a dedicated effort by the Magento community to keep M1 sites active, functional, and secure. When Magento went through end of life on June 30th of 2020, OpenMage had already been active as an alternative for a month.

As open-source projects go, OpenMage is an impressive effort. It has the support of dozens of dedicated Magento developers and continues to release security and functionality updates for the platform. Even better, they’ve committed to providing long-term support, meaning for the next five years, OpenMage users can expect security patches and at least occasional updates.

Why Use OpenMage

If you are on a M1 site and don’t want to make the switch to M2, using OpenMage is an attractive option for the time being. It provides many of the same benefits as your current M1 site. The developers behind OpenMage have their stated mission as being to keep Magento healthy and up to current standards. They have developed easy methods to install and transition to OpenMage from M1 whether you have developer support or are just a small business owner. They have the support of some major hosting providers which helps spot and address security issues quickly and help prevent updates to OpenMage from conflicting with your hosting provider. Their team is made of experienced independent Magento developers who have been working on the core code for years. While OpenMage does not provide support for third-party extensions, the continued existence of M1 in the form of OpenMage means that many extensions are still available, and some at heavily discounted prices.

Drawbacks of OpenMage

Despite its strengths, OpenMage does have some important drawbacks. Their team is capable, but as with all open source projects, they are limited in what they can address. Security updates are not guaranteed, and they may not cover an issue relevant to your business. This poses a real safety risk for you and your clients. OpenMage acknowledges that while they do their best, they adjust their output based on the number of users and available bandwidth.

Additionally, the benefits of staying with M1 will likely diminish over time, and the value of switching to M2 will only increase. Adobe started focusing on M2 because they believe it has stronger capabilities and better scalability than M1. OpenMage agrees that M2 is much stronger than their software in several areas, and believes that OpenMage is an appealing option for a specific size of business that is less concerned about scalability. If Adobe improves on the ease of creating an M2 marketplace, investing in OpenMage could lose value quickly.

OpenMage is correct that some M1 extensions are still available and functional, but there are also many that are not. Over time the number of unavailable extensions will grow in number. This could lead to losing important functionality for your storefront.

Finally, OpenMage has only committed to the next five years of support, and even that number may get adjusted. There are plenty of competitors for the service they are trying to provide, including Shopify. Investing in a switch to OpenMage may only save you the trouble of making the switch to another platform for a few years, years that you spend continuing to patch and struggle with a slowly fading tech platform.

Moving Beyond Magento 1

Magento 1 is dead, and OpenMage is a solid effort to keep M1 sites alive in some form. The team behind this open-source option is capable and committed, but it still has strong limitations that could impact your business. As ever, the question facing any Magento user is when to make the switch to M2, and how.

Our team has strong experience helping our clients make the transition, and we understand it’s not an easy choice. Nevertheless, the strengths of M2 are clear, and moving to M2 sooner rather than later can only yield positive results.

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