PrestaShop 1.7 will bring significant architectural changes.
PrestaShop 1.7 is going to be more than just another update of this popular open source platform for eCommerce. It will come with some significant improvements of the underlying software architecture.
New PHP framework – Symfony
This is probably the most important update coming with the new version. Symfony is a proven and popular open source PHP framework with more than 2000 community members developing the framework. More than 300.000 developers is using Symfony for their projects. Since the framework is being developed and tested by such a big army of developers, it is well proven and robust.
The core PrestasShop code will be reduced and cleaned. Some parts of the functionality currently being implemented as the core code will be abstracted by the framework. That way, PS team will be able to focus more on the specific functionality, leaving some general parts of the logic to be handled by the framework. The result should be less error-prone and easier to be maintained platform. In a similar way, Magento is using Zend, another popular framework for PHP.
For those of you not familiar with the software development – let’s say that a furniture producer manufactures all wooden parts needed to compose the furniture on its own. It then decides to use wooden parts from another specialized manufacturer. Those parts are used by many other furniture companies and are proven to be of good quality. Our furniture producer is going to be more focused on the design and functionality of its furniture. What a set of wooden parts is for our furniture producer, that’s the Symfony framework for PrestaShop.
Below is a screenshot of new refreshed design coming with the version 1.7. Displayed is the back office with the product page. The test installation was made from the source code pulled from GitHub. Please note that what is displayed is an image of the development version and the final look may be different. Never than less, we can test a little bit of the new design that’s coming withe the version 1.7.
At the footer of the window there is Symfony component. (A component, in the terminology used in our example with the furniture producer, is like a drawer. The producer of the basic wooden parts may also make more advanced components, like drawers. As long as their drawers fit well into the final design of the furniture, they can be used in the furniture composition.)
The Symfony component at the footer of the shown page displays few pop-up windows on mouse hoover. They display technical info like PHP classes running the web page, memory usage, AJAX calls, login info and database queries. Great stuff for advanced administrators and developers.
Gradual shift to the new architecture
According to the PrestaShop-1-7-FAQ page, the new architecture will only be used in the back office of the PrestaShop 1.7. (branch 126.96.36.199.) An that mainly only for pages for products, product catalog and modules. The rest of the back office will still use the legacy architecture from 1.5-1.6. They will be switched to the new architecture in later versions of PrestaShop. What does this mean is that with latter versions like 1.7.1, 1.7.2 and so on, more and more pages will use the new architecture. It is likely that when the whole platform will shift to the new architecture, including the front office, it will be totally new version of PrestaShop labeled as 2.0. Please note that this a speculation.
PrestasShop 1.7 will intruduce the Starter Theme. Theme designers should benefit the most from this new feature. Turning the Starter Theme into a real, production-ready theme should be very easy, according to PrestaShop 1.7 FAQ page. New version rewrites the way themes are made, and the Starter Theme should be a solid foundation for designers creating their own themes. They should be able to create new themes in half the time it took to create a theme for the version 1.6. The default installation of PrestaShop will still contain the default theme based on the Bootstrap design, for those wanting to set up a new store with the default design.
New version should also improve the way how online store is administered from the back office. Administration of the store should be simpler, faster, better. Setting up a new store should be easier, product creation workflow simplified, as well as the search for installed and non-installed modules. New version will also introduce an improved administration interface menu structure, focused on getting the most common tasks done faster.
All in all, great news from this popular eCommerce platform. If the new version lives up to its expectations, the future is bright for PrestaShop.