Did you know... that you can integrate Magento into your Joomla! site?

Written by | 01 July 2010 | Published in 2010 July
If you don’t know Magento™ you’ll probably be shrugging your shoulders by now. If you do, you will know that Magento is a feature-rich, professional open-source ecommerce platform. It's guaranteed to give you a whole new perspective on ecommerce and it will likely make existing Joomla!™ ecommerce extensions fade straight into the background upon first sight.
Magento fully integrated into Joomla! Magento fully integrated into Joomla!

If you have ever worked with Magento before, you will know that it’s administrative backend is quite complex. While feature-richness is a desirable asset for any application, it usually comes with some drawbacks, and Magento – however well designed – is no exception to that rule. Configuring a more sophisticated website can take days with Magento. Operations that seem effortless in Joomla! can be a daunting task from within Magento’s administrator. And then there’s template customization - a process Magento developers refer to as ‘theming’. If you’ve ever had the pleasure to create a Joomla! template... well, it’s nothing like that. Instead, you have to squirm your way through dozens of xml, phtml and css files, and all in different locations.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have all that wonderfully elaborate functionality of Magento cushioned inside the friendly usability of Joomla? This must have been the exact thought of Yireo, when they decided to write a Joomla! extension that does just so: MageBridge. As the name implies, MageBridge provides a bridge between Joomla! and Magento. MageBridge consists of both a Joomla! and a Magento extension. After installing the extension in both administrators all of Magento’s front-end content will feature inside your Joomla! site.

Usability

Magento’s entire catalogue configuration remains within the Magento back-end administrator, but all front-end rendering can now be manipulated through your Joomla! template. MageBridge allows you to link to all of the store-related functionality like Shopping cart, Customer Account, Login and Logout and Wish list from within the Joomla! Menu Manager. It also facilitates hot linking to specific products and categories so you can create the entire user interface through Joomla! which will prove to be an incredible time saver.

mb joomla backend menu5

Modules

Magento’s content blocks – a feature similar to Joomla! modules – are also accessible to the Joomla! front-end. MageBridge shippes with a set of modules and plugins through which all Magento content is made accessible to Joomla.  In fact, there is also a plugin that allows synchronization of Joomla! users and Magento account holders. Of course MageBridge is setup in such a way that these functionalities can – literally – be switched off individually should you not wish to make use of them.

Templates

Although templating for a MageBridge site is just as easy as it is for any Joomla! site, there is one drawback. Magento uses ProtoType as its JavaScript framework, whereas Joomla! uses MooTools. Like it or not, the two are incompatible. Although there are several ways to resolve the incompatibility (most of which are very labour intensive), the most practical solution is to simply switch off MooTools from within the MageBridge backend in Joomla – especially so since Magento’s shopping cart functionality relies heavily on ProtoType. When developing your template, you need to refrain from adding any MooTools based functionality. When you use third party based templates, you need to check that they do not make use of MooTools either. At the time of this article, the only known third party template that is 100% compatible with Magento is the Gantry driven ‘Quasar’ template by RocketTheme. Surely there are more to follow.

Learn to swim first

Although you may think you’re ready to dive straight in, you need to prepare yourself a little. Even though MageBridge takes away some of Magento’s more practical challenges (it’s even been said that it speeds Magento up a nodge) developing an ecommerce site with MageBridge requires a lot of planning. It also calls for at least some basic knowledge of Magento, including Magento theming. Also, you mustn’t underestimate the time involved in initial configuration of a new site. Luckily, both Magento as well as MageBridge are very well documented and Yireos support forum is very responsive should you run into difficulties.

Happy selling!

 

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Babs Gösgens

Babs Gösgens

Babs first started using Joomla! in 2006. Immediately enthused, Babs started exploring Joomla! and its API. Since, she’s become an avid believer in Joomla's limitless potential and an active member of the international Joomla! Community. Babs has joined the Joomla! Community Magazine as co-author for “Did you know...?” to Nick Antimisiaris and as a member of the Media Team and the Promotions Team.

Babs Gösgens has been a professional web designer since 1995. She has a profound knowledge of interface design and usability and is uniquely talented in both design and development.

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