Magento recently released version 1.7 rc1. That is not yet a production version of course, but it will be very close to that and normally we may only expect bugfixes in the final release. So, what may we expect in this new Community version? Is the company still making significant improvements to the version that made them so big? Let’s take a closer look at the changes.
Of course, as Magento also states in its official announcement about Magento 1.7 rc1, this is not yet a production version. You can use it in your test environment, but bringing it live is not recommended!
Let’s first take a look at the visual changes:
- Magento can now handle different base prices per customer groups. That’s something that comes in handy in a business to business environment.
- One more for b2b sales, especially for EU countries: when making a sale to another business (from EU to another EU country), the selling store must validate the so called VAT number to be able to use the zero VAT percentage. Magento now supports validating this number. In the past you had to do this manually or using an extension. In this new version Magento is capable of putting the customer immediately in the correct customer group based on the validation of the ID
- Another feature interesting for European shops is that Magento now has built-in support for carrier DHL.
- Magento can now generate multiple coupon codes for a single promotion automatically. This comes in handy when you want to use unique coupon codes per customer for the same promotion.
- Magento 1.7 finally supports CAPTCHA functionality to reduce spam registrations in your shop. You can enable this in the customer configuration screen.
- A small change, but a big frustration in some countries, is the ability to make as well the customer State or Province optional. You can now decide this yourself for any country.
Further on, there are also changes that are less visible, but still might be important in your situation
- Backup and rollback functionality was added to Magento 1.7. We can’t emphasize enough that creating backups is something that cannot be made easy enough. The smaller the store, the bigger the chance that it has not been taken care of. With this new function there’s no reason anymore. You can find this new feature in Configuration – Advanced – System.
- Magento will release its first version of REST APIs. This will give developers the possibility to create, update or delete simple products, inventory and order information. Just to name a few.
- For better support of mobile devices a Html5 theme will be delivered.
- The algorithm behind the layered price navigation has been changed.
Conclusion? Some good additions, especially for the European b2b market. Nothing spectacular though, just some improvements to an e-commerce solution that is already getting pretty complete. The downside is that there are only very little Magento stores that are able to run the system without using any extensions or modifications. That means that there are still improvements to be made in future versions. Let’s hope that Magento is capable of keeping alive what made them so strong during the last few years!
Note: meanwhile the release of Magento 1.7 is there. No more beta versions, go ahead and download the stable Magento 1.7 release here.