Magento Open Source Community: 2020 retro and 2021 perspectives.

Recently, many people have asked for my opinion on how things are going in the Magento engineering community. While 2020 was not as productive as 2019 for a variety of obvious reasons, such as the global pandemic, it was still an exciting year when reflecting on the new, powerful features delivered by the community, despite the challenges. The following summary represents my thoughts on what we have accomplished, as well as useful insights based on the questions I received or observations I have made. Enjoy the read!

Compared to 2019, we had fewer community contributions in 2020. The main reason is apparent. We did not come together in-person. Traditionally, contribution days were concentrated events where the most brainpower and output was formed in terms of new deliverables to the Magento core. In 2020, we only had a few events, compared to the number we participated in during previous years. In spite of that, during the year there were more than 2k pull requests to the main Magento repository (and almost 2k additionally to the DevDocs!).

Also, it is worth mentioning that a Partner Acceleration Program allowed partner-agencies to participate in Magento core development more actively. This program, along with initiatives from other contributors, brought extensive GraphQL coverage to the platform. While there are still some areas left to be covered, we can now finally say that Magento 2 is a headless platform. It doesn’t matter that PWA Studio is still in development. We have a great API and the opportunity to use any storefront we like! And I am proud that most of this coverage has been delivered by the community.

Previously, there were several interesting separate open-source projects from Magento, such as MSI, Adobe Stock Integration, and MFTF. Most of the mentioned repositories are closed now. Does that mean that there is no interest in the separate projects anymore?

This question is very organic, but the projects did not disappear anywhere. They were simply merged to the main Magento repository. The key reason is the simplicity of the project maintenance from the development perspective. I also must admit that it’s much easier to have everything in one project than keeping 3+ separate Magento installations for working on different projects. Dedicated backlogs have replaced the separate repositories. You can still find tasks for each of the mentioned projects under the “Projects” tab in the main repository, where a corresponding label usually marks the project-related issues.

Do you think we will have more interesting open-source projects from Magento this year?

I would definitely say yes! There’s still much to be done, and we in the Community Engineering realize how helpful the Magento community is in improving the platform. Moreover, we already have some interesting stuff! The initiative of the core migration to the PHP 8 has already started. It’s a matter of a few preparation rounds to create a solid backlog. If you want to stay in touch, please join the #php8 channel in the Community Engineering Slack.

You are the top 1 Community Engineering maintainer of 2020. How much of your free/working time did it take to process all the PRs?

I must say that being a maintainer is a big responsibility. I would also say that it is very rewarding. To me personally it allows staying in touch with the community, keep my skills sharp, and help Magento grow. During the last year, more than 50% (or even 60%) of all the pull requests were processed by the maintainers. So to some extent, we are responsible for “gatekeeping” the quality of solutions from the community. I appreciate the opportunity to help people writing better code and understanding the best practices. But sometimes it’s really exhausting. In general, I’ve been spending around 1-1.5 hours of my free time every day (including the weekends and vacations!). But it’s great to realize that you may be helpful for many people considering the situation in 2020 when you are “bounded” to your home most of the time.

What is the most exciting thing in the Magento open source world in 2020?

I like the new idea of the global contribution days, 24 hours of coding, and other formats that were not so usual previously. All these attempts to bring people together online no matter what, were just fantastic! I hope we may finally meet offline this year on some contribution day, but am also open to the new online formats.

What would you change in the Magento open-source program processes?

We are continuously seeing improvements in the system. In the second half of the last year, we had the “Priority” and “Severity” labels introduced for pull requests. These labels allow prioritizing which pull requests will be reviewed and merged first. This approach has sped up the delivery of the most crucial solutions from the community.

We have the contributor points system, and it works well to some extent. But it also has some issues that hopefully will be addressed soon. It’s not a secret that being in the top 10 contributors’ chart is a major motivational factor for many contributors, and it’s absolutely normal.However, there are still many cases where one contributor might spend just a couple of hours to achieve this position, while another developer might invest 30+ hours of work to introduce a new important feature. So, I’m sure that there will be a chance to improve the rewarding system by considering the quantity and the efforts together with value.

Is Atwix still going to proceed with the active contribution campaign?

Absolutely! Atwix has many great minds who love to contribute. So I wouldn’t name it a “campaign” but rather an intention of our open source ambassadors (Psst! We are also continually looking for new ambassadors). We also hope to take an active part in organizing the new contribution days this year.

Do you think Adobe will close the Magento open source program soon?

The future of Adobe and Magento community engineering is a topic, to be sure. This is somewhat common when a large brand like Adobe acquires a smaller brand rooted in Open Source, like Magento. Taking into account the passion, power and the value that community brings to the platform, closing this “source” would appear, to me, unrealistic and not very smart business. From my perspective, I would encourage everyone to keep contributing because it helps fuelling Magento and its distinct differences with other eCommerce platforms. As long as Magento continues to sign up more customers all over the world, it seems like open source program works really well.

Read also: Magento Open Source vs. Magento Commerce

In closing, I want to thank community engineers and maintainers for their patience, trust, confidence and hard work! I know this year will bring us more great adventures and cool results.

Thank you for reading. If you have assumptions or ideas you want to reflect on, please, feel free to share them in the comments below.