Until recently I considered the Magento mostly as a “read-only” community. Especially when I started with my first Magento projects there wasn’t much information around. Every now and then Varien (later then Magento Inc.) published a new version. I checked what was new, tested our projects with it and used that version from then on. If we encountered some bugs we digged into the code. Usually spent lots of hours and energy to spot the bug and fix it, contact Magento support, waited a couple of days and got the answer, that this is a known bug. Usually their response contained an official “patch” that in most cases was very similar to how we’ve fixed that.
Almost every time I asked myself, how we could actually be the first ones stumbling over this issue. And Magento support proved: We weren’t.
Contributing code was never easy. I signed the MCA and contributed some code. I even got a nice gift for that. But I always felt that contributing would only be possible for some (trivial) bugfixes, but never ever would a complex feature or a major improvement make its way to the Magento core. Magento Inc developers would not want to maintain and support that feature from now on.
I love the trend that more and more high quality, free and open source modules get published on the web and authors are free to receive contributions. GitHub is a great platform for that. Also I love getting feedback and patches for the stuff I’ve published and I really like it when other people pick up my stuff and build own solutions on top of that. Again: GitHub is a great platform for that.
And now there’s Mage+. The project popped up in my twitter timeline these days. I’ve read other blog posts on that and even heise.de has published a post on this. So, lots of people are currently talking about this.
But why? Wasn’t the community edition supposed to be open source from the beginning? Shouldn’t the “community” be easily able to contribute code, ideas, feedback to the “community edition”? Shouldn’t Magento be happy about other developers’ free engagement? What’s wrong here? Is Magento Inc scared that Mage+ could become a better product than Magento CE in no time? And if so, what’s wrong with that? Maybe they could even consider including patches back to the code base they’re maintaining?
But, actually there something to take care of with Mage+: Quality.
Magento is a complex piece of software and we’re running businesses with it. It is real money that “runs” through Magento’s objects and database tables. Who takes care that all business critical features will always work properly? Who will review contributions and decide what’s good enough to be included and what’s not?
I wouldn’t feel comfortable to run Mage+ on one of our customer’s sites. I would not have the time to constantly review all changes before merging the latest changes in to our production code and I would not want to rely on somebody else to do this for me.
Still, Mage+ is a great idea (even if this is not the first try to bring back the Magento code to the community) and I will definitely consider contributing patches to there and picking up improvements from there to use them on our customer’s projects. GitHub is a great plattform for that… :)