For a few weeks now I have been working with the new eCommerce solution Magento. In the past I have had brief encounters with other eCommerce solutions like Cubecart, as well as eCommerce plugins for e107. None of them really come close to been as well structured and feature rich as Magento does.

At the time of writing this Magento is at version 1.0, with a bug fix release just around the corner. Many of the features built into the core of Magento are features that aren’t built into other solutions without the use of plugins/modules.

Some of the nicest features that are built into Magento are…

  • Individual items within an order can be shipped to mutliple addresses.
  • People can create wishlists to send to there friends.
  • Reports (Sales, Tax, Searches, Stock, Most Viewed, Coupon Useage etc…).
  • Ability to allow users to configure products (Size, Colour etc…).
  • Import / Export Products
  • Export information about customers, (Collect email addresses for mailshots).
  • An RSS feed that warns you of low stock.
  • Users can tag products.
  • Order tracking.
  • To see more of the great features built in click here.

I am not creating a shop for personal use, but for a client of 383 Project. So my main focus on the system is the template system. The first time you look at the template/skinning/theming system in Magento it can be pretty daunting.

The files for the skin are separated between several folders (app/design & skin). Within the app/design folder you will find all the HTML for the templates, within the skin folder you will find the images, stylesheets and javascript files.

Once you get used to navigating through these folders it’s pretty much plain sailing. A neat feature in Magento allows you to turn on labels telling you where a particular template file is located, this can be found in the Admin Area > System > Configuration then navigate down to Developer and turn on ‘Template Path Hints’.

I will be posting more about the system in the near future as I work with it more and more. Personally, if I was creating an eCommerce site for my own use then i’d use Magento. Go try it out. If you want to know more head over to the Magento website and look around, they also have screencasts showing you the process of many parts of the system.