Mark Shust

Mark Shust

Let's talk about the future of Magento

If you aren’t typically on social media, then you missed a lot of hubbub happening about the future of Magento. A new group named the “Mage Open Source Community Alliance” was formed, and issued an Open Letter to the Magento Community.

TLDR: no one is going to let Magento open source die.

Adobe gave a presentation at a summer conference, implying that Adobe Commerce is moving in the direction of microservices. This would also imply that they are leaving behind The Majestic Monolith.

True or not, the general Magento development community has been a bit aggravated about the attention given to Magento Open Source over the last few years. There have been situations that give this credence, from the super-long, aggravating process of submitting a contribution to the framework (I’ve had my own experiences with this), to the lack of vision and direction of a “benevolent leader” (Apple isn’t the only one in this situation).

At the time of this newsletter, nearly 1,300 companies & individuals support the new initiative. This is a staggering number, considering the letter has only been circulating for about 72 hours. It’s worth nothing that I’m also in full support of this initiative.

The head of product at Magento issued a response to the letter. The glaring thing to me after reading the response was what wasn’t said: that Magento is not going down the microservices route. This all but confirms this is their new direction, but that said, I’m not at all as doom & gloom as some others in this space.

Adobe’s prerogative is to do what’s best for their company. While their direction has gone “upstream” in regards to the marketing of Commerce, a natural next direction for them would be to expand Magento to include integration with all of their different services, while continuing to expand their SaaS offerings. At the same time, it seems Adobe is willing to keep Magento Open Source humming along, and doesn’t have any plans to abandon the project anytime soon. That said, there seems to be a lack of forward progress with “what’s new” for Magento, and innovation has stalled.

There have been many attempted Magento forks in the past, and they have all failed. Most importantly, they have all been somewhat unwarranted, as Magento continues to be officially developed & supported. I think developers are angry at the direction Adobe is taking with Magento, rather than worried about it ever being abandoned.

Let’s look at a line from Adobe’s response letter:

“Adobe will continue to partner with the community to ensuring that the core open source codebase is secure and high quality, while we focus on delivering incremental capabilities released as independent modules to help our customers realize new value.”

I don’t see any concern of Magento “going away” — it’s just not going to happen. There is tremendous value having the community involved with Magento, and they would lose an enormous base of community support if that ever went away.

But their commitment to “ensure the codebase is secure and high quality” and “help our customers” doesn’t necessarily mean the open source codebase will be actively developed & innovated upon, as it once was in the past. This seems to be exactly what sparked the initiative for the Mage Open Source Community Alliance.

There are very big names involved in this fork initiative, and most are ones that have been around since the old Magento 1 days. It seems this fork is happening. There is a lot of forward momentum with this initiative, and I could very well see a merchant choosing to build their new project on “Mage Open Source” rather than “Adobe Commerce Open Source”.

The best part of this initiative, that wasn’t the case with previous fork attempts, is the statement:

“The fork will be upstream-compatible with Magento Open Source as long as it is supported by Adobe. That means, when the monolith is ultimately deprecated, all companies who want to remain on the monolith platform will be able to do so.”

This is a non-combative initiative, which I believe gives it a much greater chance of succeeding. Will we have days in the future where new, innovative features will actually start coming to Magento Open Source?

Time will tell.