Interview: Roy Rubin About Magento Open Source eCommerce

Magento & Varien Logos

Magento eCommerce Solution Overview & Introduction:

Many eCommerce developers, along with merchant sellers, have been eagerly anticipating the upcoming release of Varien’s new Open Source eCommerce Solution named Magento (like the color magenta, not magneto of x-men). Varien is currently one of the most renowned osCommerce development companies in existence and continues to set industry trends, build better strategies and help their customers improve the way they do business Online.

Magento is the open-source eCommerce platform that promises to revolutionize the industry. It’s modular architecture and unprecedented flexibility means your business is no longer constrained by your eCommerce platform. Magento is total control.

With the many changes in eCommerce over the years, Web developers and merchants have seen a huge need to build on a more flexible, robust, scalable eCommerce platform. Varien is hoping to fill that need by releasing the mother of all open source eCommerce solutions. Will Magento live up to all the hype? Definitely! I can tell you from what I’ve seen of their platform, that it is no joke. These guys have put in tons of man hours, have dedicated years of industry experience, provided unique insights and received mass amounts of feedback from the ones who matter most, users. One thing is for sure, they really understand the needs of the merchants, search engines, customers and many of the other aspects that make up the world of eCommerce. Varien has great customers, who make money. Plus, they have built some of the nicest osCommerce powered sites and WordPress powered eCommerce sites I have seen. I can’t imagine what they can accomplish without limits – let’s see a glimpse!

Magento Customers Admin
Magento Customers Admin
Magento Configuration Admin
Magento Configuration Admin
Magento Customer View Area
Magento Customer View Area
Magento Customer Edit Area
Magento Customer Edit Area


  1. How long has Magento been in development? What’s the expected launch date?
  2. Magento Interview Icon Magento has been in development since January 2007 and a beta is expected to launch in August.
  3. What are the main differences between Magento and oScommerce?
  4. Magento Interview Icon There will be many differences, I’ve listed a few highlights below:
  • Architecture – one of the biggest issues with osCommerce has been upgrades. Once custom modifications are done, there is no way to upgrade. With Magento customizations to existing functionality simply extend the base, making upgrade a possibility.
  • Plug-in/modules/packages – osCommerce has no real good way to install new features. You have to go through the code and add/edit lines, making this an almost impossible task if any changes have been done to the code. With Magento, you’ll be able to install new modules relatively easily without getting into the code much.
  • Templating – a true 100% template system making any design and functionality requirements possible. No limitation whatsoever.
  • Enterprise level code and scaling – performance has been a huge issue we wanted to address.
  • A truly flexible system.
  • Since Magento will be backed by Varien there will be a clear roadmap and transparency to the project. Companies can count on the continuation of the project and enterprise level support and services.
  1. eCommerce platform providers are popping up all over. What are some of the things that make Megento different from other shopping carts.
  2. Magento Interview Icon See some of the highlights above.
  3. How easy will Magento be to use? Should merchants know programming, theming or have other technical experience?
  4. Magento Interview Icon Magento can be used out-of-the-box as is in many cases. We’ll provide a number of themes/templates to use so that merchants can apply a look-a-feel they prefer. We also expect the community to contribute layouts as soon as the project is launched. In order to benefit from the true power and flexibility of Magento, technical knowledge will be required. If you are looking to change the layout/design – HTML knowledge should be sufficient.
  5. What impact do you think Magento will have on the industry and especially Open Source delevopment?
  6. Magento Interview Icon It is our hope that Magento will lead the open source eCommerce space. Based on the feedback and response we have received so far, we feel confident in making this happen. We have a long road ahead of us, but with the community’s help and our teams dedication we feel Magento will make a huge impact in the eCommerce world.
  7. What do you mean by Magento gives “total control”?
  8. Magento Interview Icon Total Control is 100% flexibility. Many eCommerce solutions have inherent constraints and business owners have traditionally tailored their business to the eCommerce platform of their choosing. With Magento it will work the other way around , putting the merchants back in control. No more constraints and no more limitations. That is our goal.
  9. Do you plan on running a Magento powered store yourself?
  10. Magento Interview Icon Absolutely. We’ll have a store at some point in the next few months to illustrate just that (selling Magento gear). We feel confident in our solution and so do the hundreds of merchants that have contacted us so far.
  11. How did you get into eCommerce and what’s your favorite thing about this industry?
  12. Magento Interview Icon Varien started as a web development and design firm and we stumbled across eCommerce back in 2003. We’ve been providing industry leading solutions ever since. The industry is very dynamic and we’ve been fortunate to work with very large clients that have incredible insight and drive in this industry. We have become passionate advocates.
  13. What do you think the future of eCommerce will look like and where will Magento be in 5 years?
  14. Magento Interview Icon Well – it will certainly continue to grow. Demand for eCommerce services will certainly grow as the industry matures. In 5 years, Magento will be the standard of open source eCommerce and have thousands of sites across the web.
  15. What rough percentage of merchants will be able to use Magento and have it meet ALL their needs?
  16. Magento Interview Icon “ALL” is a tricky word. I don’t feel there is one eCommerce system that meets every single need of every single merchant. Magento will be very close (and certainly closer than others) – the difference is that with Magento, the merchant has the control and possibility to complete anything they see as missing. With other platforms it’s simply not possible.

Check Out The “Inside Magento” Series & Their Blog:

The Magento blog is where you want to be if you are interested in keeping up on all the happenings and special releases. The Varien staff help author the blog. Shannon is great, she authors on both Varien and Magento blogs and writes frequently on industry trends. Roy has been on the blog answering questions like crazy (some twice or three times even) from all kinds of users interested in the new technology. You may have noticed the short answer to question three (the see highlights above one) and wondered the answer still. Well, the blog and links below should be enough to provide that answer, so have a look. They are taking feedback and suggestions from the blog and have an email subscription so you never miss a post.

  • Inside Magento #1 – Scheduled Design Updates
  • Inside Magento #2 – Complete Design Flexibility
  • Inside Magento #3 – Guided Navigation
  • Inside Magento #4 – Product Comparisons
  • Inside Magento #5 – Product Tagging
  • Inside Magento #6 – Ship to Multiple Addresses
  • Inside Magento #7 – Product Search

Here’s the link to Magento’s “First Preview” Video – Magento is Coming, First Preview is Here


Conclusion & Final Thoughts:

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m extremely excited for the release of Magento sometime in August. It looks really promising and is certainly worth checking out, especially if you already use an open source eCommerce solution to sell. Many of the standard features included in the core of Magento are state-of-the-art and would be considered advanced by many eCommerce developers.

I will continue to post updates on Magento as they roll out and plan on reviewing the platform thoroughly when I have time to play with it a bit. I appreciate Roy taking his time to address my questions and for providing such good answers. Keep up the good work Roy. Let your staff know their work doesn’t go unnoticed.