On Magento 2 being “open source” – the post-mortem

Magento 2 on Github: merging of a pull request in action

Little less than four months ago, we published an opinion-piece regarding Magento 2 and why we thought it wasn’t really holding up to the mindset of being an open source project. In four months, a lot has changed.

What was wrong

Magento 2 was (and still is) being marketed as a new platform which not only refreshes the entire code base, but also improves handling of the community its feedback and involvement. When close engagement with the community is part of a platform its goals, it should be no surprise that it is disappointing when development is a closed box you can only see the output of and can barely contribute to.

Most of the original critique was therefore that, though by definition Magento 2 is an open source project, all the rest which should naturally come with “being open source”, severely lacked. It is one of our best read articles and linked from a dozen of websites; a timely status update is in its place.

This feels more like open source

In the original situation, the internal Magento 2 VCS repository was synchronized with the public Github repository once every week. Though the changelog shed light on major changes, checking the diffs to see what changed code-wise was unmanageable and time-consuming because of the massive commits.

Last Christmas, Magento changed the way it interacts with Github; the Magento 2 developers are now directly pushing to Github (or at least, that’s what it looks like) and community contributions are merged there instead of being untraceable in a weekly commit. And all of this with a sane branching and release model.

Though internal Magento project-management tools are still in use, communication to developers on the outside has become a magnitude better by more effectively making use of Github issues and its tagging features. Communication is more responsive and instead of completely moving the discussion internally immediately, Magento employees are often found having transparent discussions with community input.

Instead of neglecting its community and being not that open towards contributions, Magento 2 is now actively pursuing input and welcoming people to contribute to the project.

It’s in the small things

Magento 2 now has a developer hub which is the central point for developers looking for information. Be it video tutorials or links to useful resources, the developer hub has everything neatly organized.

The Magento 2 developer documentation has a new home and all entries are directly linked to a separate Github repository for the pleasure of forking and contributing.

Alan Kent has increased his writing about the development of Magento 2. Often in long-form. Be it an overview of a design choice or simply spewing his thoughts about certain obstacles. Though Alan (and on occasion Ben) is currently the only staff member blogging about Magento 2, this might change soon.

Final words

Lots of improvements. Whereas only a few months ago Magento 2 development was more of a push-and-run model, it is now at a point that it is really worthy of being titled an open source project. Engagement is a lot better now than it was back then and given the pace those changes came, it might very well have been a turning point for Magento as a company. Props to everyone involved with getting this transition from the ground.

It is a bit bitter to end with “but Magento 1.X doesn’t even have an official repository”, so let’s just say that at least the future looks brighter than ever!

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