Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14 – Developer’s Review of New Features
Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14 was announced at Magento Imagine on May 13 and made available for download the same day. The new version features more than 50 enhancements that improve quality and security throughout the platform. Most noteworthy is the new responsive design reference theme, which makes it possible to get a tablet- and smartphone-friendly site in about half the time as before.
Previous editions of Magento EE were focused on performance improvement, while Magento 1.14 emphasizes bug elimination and general platform polishing. Undoubtedly, the most important characteristic of the new version is a change in approach to mobile device users. So far, Magento users or developers had only one opportunity to adapt their store for tablets and smartphones using the Mobile App Manager to create their own store app. This amenity was extremely unpopular, so Magento developers have been thereby forced to work out a new solution. That solution is now here – 1.14 offers Responsive Web Design (RWD) practices, which is Google’s preferred approach to mobile site optimization. Now, Magento merchants are able to develop mobile sites quickly, efficiently, and reliably without a need to use different templates for web and mobile sites. The new responsive theme is based on Saas/Compass technologies, which simplifies writing CSS. The Magento team leverages the best Saas/Compass features, like partials media query breakpoints. These solutions make the efficient front-end teamwork possible.
Other modifications include the introduction of several new features of HTML5 and icons on the sprites, which accelerates website loading process. Further, we get native (that is, without a patch which was needed in previous versions) support for Solr 3.6.2. Catalog indexing now runs quickly and automatically in the background, with no administrator intervention required, resulting in a better administrative performance. If you recall, the main goal of EE 1.13 was performance optimization – the Magento Core Team introduced new indexers, which was based on the idea of materialized views. Reindexing efficiency was obtained by minimizing the number of updates to the updated entities and related entities. Now in 1.14, the catalog search indexes both on Solr and the database refreshes only products that have been modified, which results in performance gain.
The new Magento release supports PHP 5.4 by default (1.13 requires a patch), and the Zend Framework has been upgraded to version 1.12.3, which will improve speed and security. The Magento team also improved cross-border price consistency (or cross-border trade) and supports European Union (EU) merchants operating across regions who want to show their customers a single price. Prices are clear, legible, and are independent from tax structures and rates in particular countries. When catalog price includes tax, it does not matter what the customer’s tax rate is – in other words, a merchant’s profit is determined by the formula (Revenue – CustomerVAT – CostOfGoodsSold). In 1.14, you can choose between consistency pricing and varying price by a tax rate (the latter of which was the default setting for earlier versions).
What the Creatuity front-end developers loved at first sight is the more flexible and open fallback mechanism featuring theme inheritance. We were quite surprised that Magento already introduces concepts derived from Magento 2. If you compare theme configuration in Magento 1 and Magento 2, you will see A LOT of similarities.
In Magento EE 1.14, the theme has its own configuration in the theme/etc directory. If we look at the example theme.xml file, we can see that custom parents can be defined for each theme. You can define theme parent just in one line of code.
Every developer who has ever faced upgrading a theme from CE to EE will really appreciate these recent changes.
The most interesting part for the front-end developer is the brand new RWD theme. It could really make creating new theme from scratch easier and faster. The Magento Team added jQuery, which is great news, especially for developers who have worked with sites that used many front-end extensions. Very often, using many front-end extensions ended up with multiple jQuery versions loaded on each page.
Overall, we think that the most important addition in 1.14 is the introduction of Sass in RWD. The Magento team made it very intuitive and comfortable for developers. Magento split the CSS into SASS partials by core features (forms, tables), by layout (header, footer, global), and by modules (cms, customer, catalog-product). From now on, our front-end developers are able to work without the threat of conflicts on theming different Magento pages!
It is also worth mentioning the security enhancements that Magento has made to make the platform even more secure than it was before. One of the improvements made in the new release includes reinforcement for clickjacking prevention with two alternative options: enable frames and enable frames only in the same domain, where the second one is the common way to efficiently defend against clickjacking. In order to protect their users confidential data, Magento has further improved file system security and action URLs (such as billing agreements). Furthermore, an .swf file was removed from the new version to refine Magento security level.
Not surprisingly, the new release increases the support of PayPal, which now tries alternative payment options if a customer’s credit card is rejected at checkout. The novelty is the Bill Me Later payment option,a credit line that’s built-in to your PayPal account. The Magento developers have also made multiple fixes in tax calculation, web store and shopping cart, promotional price rule, administrative ordering, invoicing, credit memo, import, payment method, Solr search engine and other.
Overall, Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14 is a solid upgrade, so if you’ve been putting off an upgrade or have been considering an upgrade in the near future, now’s the time to do it. Let us know if you’re considering an upgrade – we’ve reviewed the new version inside and out, and we’re here to help!