What’s new in Magento 1.9

We lend a hand to helping you through the new features and benefits of Magento Community 1.9.

Web consultants at conference in the UK

by Erika Sykes.

With the new release of Magento 1.9, we thought it would be a good idea to explore the difference between itself and its predecessor.

If you’re reading this after 2014, we recommend reading up on what’s coming in Magento 2 – a newer blog post!

Front-end Development

Responsive Web Design

Magento has previously been an architecture that has not provided much in the way of support for developers trying to develop a responsive theme within the platform. It is for this reason that, with an eager breath, all developers will be delighted to know that 1.9 comes with integrated “Responsive Web Design principles”

The most significant effect of this will undoubtedly be the time saved within projects. Magento estimates that a responsive theme can now be created in “about half the time”. After viewing the code a few immediate changes can be noticed. Magento 1.9 now uses the CSS pre-compiler SASS allowing for re-usable code (This being through the use of CSS variables and much more. You can read more here). Additionally, a new set of non-conflicting jQuery operations have been entered into its libraries. Not only have they included jQuery but have also included new Javascript libraries.

Javascript Libraries

The new Javascript libraries have been integrated to reduce responsive conflict errors within 1.9. For example, “enquire.js” is used conditionally when the viewport size is below a certain size. Other features include ensuring that images have been fully loaded onto the page before allowing product zoom,  a rotating banner library for 1.9’s homepage, the newest jQuery library at the time of release, a support library for IE 6 through 8 and finally a library to facilitate the zoom on product pages.

Magento have listed a few area’s that the out of the box theme has not integrated into these changes. They include area’s such as the site map and captchas. However, there are no large segments of responsiveness missing in, what seems, an impressive addition to cross device compatibility within Magento.

Admin Changes

Shopping Cart / Checkout Changes

The shopping carts has also benefited from the introduction of new libraries within 1.9. The cart now uses an AJAX script of which refreshes the page upon a change of quantity of product instead of requiring a full refresh. However, this post would be a lot longer if every small improvement was mentioned so it may be better to stick with the significant ones.

Firstly, the order review page at checkout can now be disabled or even configured to best suit your needs. This – with it only being used within PayPal’s express checkout – may not be applicable to all Magento stores, but for those that it is, it will allow for a much smoother user story and experience when purchasing a product on your store. To disable the page you can go through from System -> Configuration -> SALES -> Payment methods and find the option in the “Advanced options” tab. Here you can alter security validations (Such as HTTPS verification), the ability to allow guests to use paypal and whether or not to set billing agreements with the customer.

Another useful addition is the PayPal “Bill Me Later” option. This has been quoted as an option that “helps improve conversion rates” (Magento website). This allows for customers to be given a period of time (Often 6 months) to pay for their product purchased on your store. Although this may seem like an option that will hold up funds, it is a viable option if a store needs that little extra push in gaining the successful conversion rate that it requires.

Finally, 1.9 gives you the ability to add widgets into the mini shopping cart within your store. This, although not a dramatic change, is a statement of intent by Mageno to continue being the largest, most customisable E-Commerce CMS in the market. Promotions/advertisements and much more can be placed into the mini cart in order for our website to become as fine tuned as possible, giving you that little more in terms of individualism in the metropolis of the web.

Side Note: It is worth mentioning that the Enterprise Edition has integrated a patch that allows for the integration of the Solr search engine with the benefit of not having any need to update or patch yourself. There is no programming required when integrating this addition to Magento and can allow for a much higher level of personalised search results.

So, what’s our verdict for Magento 1.9?

Magento’s 1.9 update has been one of the most significant in a long time. This is because it has not only updated the functionality of the CMS but also integrated a highly modern and responsive theme that is easily modified.

This, after all, is the main thing that your customers will notice, and has been something that Magento had needed for a long time. With the combination of more modern, stylish stores for customers to view, and a rise in the ability to customise the store from the back end, this can be considered a successful update of which we can only be grateful for happening. Now, where is Magento 2?