Practical Ecommerce

Magento 1.8 Is Here: Upgrade or Not?

Magento 1.8 has finally been released. When Magento first came out, releases were frequent. But this time it has been over a year since 1.7 came out. It was beginning to look like the takeover by Ebay had stopped all development. Unlike previous releases there has not been a flood of complaints saying how buggy it is. This is either because no one has upgraded and installed it, or because it is better quality than previous initial releases. In my opinion, however, it is more likely due to poor timing. This is a very bad time of year to change an ecommerce site.

We are in the run up to the busiest time of the year for most ecommerce companies. No one ramping up their systems and services for the holiday season would consider doing any non-essential upgrade to their cart. It’s a case of if it is not broken, then don’t fiddle. I suspect that most operating sites would like to upgrade to 1.8, but do not need to. I will be scheduling my upgrade in January or February when it all goes quiet.

It is also likely that any new site will either be well under way in development — or not started yet — and thus not using 1.8. It is not a good idea to open a new ecommerce site so late in the year.

In a way this is a pity. It means that by the time I get to upgrade, there may not have been lots of early adopters going before me finding all the bugs. In general it is normally better to upgrade to a .1 or a .0.1 release rather than the brand new .0 release.

There is no doubt, however, it is worth upgrading in the New Year, for the following reasons.

  • It is meant to be faster and less resource hungry (always a good thing).
  • The tax calculation process has been extensively re-written (and might therefore fix the tax bug that has been in my system for 2 years and no-one can find or fix).
  • It will have the latest security fixes.
  • It is better to move forward with all releases, because it is done in “little” steps, rather than falling behind and having a major upgrade problem when you are forced.

I understand that the development of 2.0 of Magento continues. It might even come out in 2014. So if it does this means that I know what I will be doing in January 2015.

Version 2.0 of Magento promises much. It will likely mean that Magento has finally come of age. It will demonstrate that Magento still has a future and an upgrade path, and that its purchase by Ebay has not been detrimental — assuming that what is currently promised gets delivered.

When Ebay purchased Magento, there was the worry that they would stop development, or twist the whole concept into some kind of hybrid linked somehow to Ebay. It is good to see that this has not happened. It is good to see that development continues. It is good to see that my investment in Magento has been worthwhile, and that it has a future that I can subscribe to.

So now that I know that I will upgrade to 1.8, and know that I will almost certainly upgrade to 2.0, this decision also determines how I will upgrade. Whilst I am certain that there will be some kind of upgrade path from 1.8 to 2.0, I personally will not use it. For so significant a change in architecture I would plan to do a clean install and re-import my products and customers. I believe that it is always better to have a clean break. You are less likely to carry forward old bugs, and it gives you the opportunity to review and not use any extension that you no longer need. It is always worth doing this every few years. Because I will do this for version 2.0, there is no need to do it now. So instead I will be simply updating the running site.

The upgrade method always appears the easiest, but with Magento it is never trouble free. In previous years I have found that waiting a few months, and then updating, has resulted in a relatively trouble free update because you have not gone first. It is likely that someone else has the same problem and has fixed it. So it is simply a matter of Googling the problem and applying the fix. Hopefully with 1.8 it will be the same. As with any upgrade however it is essential to try it out first with a copy of your system.

So that’s my January, all sorted out. Now all I have to do is keep busy until then.


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  1. sean October 2, 2013 Reply

    Establish a test server, reflect your production site to it and do your upgrade testing on the test server so you don’t trash your income source. Self-inflicted wounds are not fun and you will lose as much or more income than the cost of the test server if and when things go wrong during blindly upgrading your production server. The Magento forums are littered with the reckage every time a new major upgrade is out.

    • Richard Stubbings October 3, 2013 Reply

      Yes, as I said try it out first with a copy system.

      The problem is that Magento is a complex program, especially if you have lots of extensions. Sometimes whilst an upgrade on the development copy works fine, the same action on the live site can go wrong. It is always essential not only to test it first on a copy but also to take complete backups of the live site before upgrading it.

  2. Kerry Morvel October 11, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for the review. It’s really worth to read. I can only add that data transfer from the current version to a new installation may simple.
    Check the service called Cart2Cart ( It can move easily.

    Anyway thanks again!

  3. Alex Stelmakh October 13, 2013 Reply

    What is also important is to test all you magento extension is compatible with the new version.

    While there are no major changes, we at still re-tested all modules and released updates when necessary.

    To find hidden issues do not forget to check the magento error log after the upgrade.

  4. Nicky Helmkamp November 6, 2013 Reply

    Hey Richard- awesome article! We included it in our resource round up

  5. Rich December 4, 2013 Reply

    Yep, wait to upgrade. I just did on one site. Immediate issues I came up against were firstly cron… there’s a bug that leaves jobs as ‘pending’ even when they’re running. Not good if any of your code checks if your job is currently running, it will never find it. And another one where if you don’t have news_to_date selected when you get a collection and save a product, it resets news_from_date to ‘blank’.. nice! that’s great if you run any product update script without calling ->load($id) especially if your client has entered a whole load of new from dates manually.

  6. Johnny Kirk February 6, 2014 Reply

    That was well said. So… If I just bought into magento…What else is going on with the other “E-bay” company?
    Is it already time to “cut bait”
    Thanks for the foresight.

  7. Nina October 12, 2014 Reply

    Do know how Magento converts the ab_bb names to dircteory/capital names?For example, where would it search for abmodule/subdircteory_filebb?I supposed that it would look in /app/code/local/[package_name]/abmodulebb/absubdircteorybb/abfilebb.php. But it stille gives me this error, that it can’t find the model.