Comparing Magento to XSQUIZZIT's TOTECS Platform 

21st June 2013

The marketers have embraced the Magento story and the technology has propelled worldwide.  Why?  Because it's one of the first highly modularised eCommerce Frameworks embraced by the web development fraternity.  Better still, it started it's days as an open source initiative and developers embraced it.

We often find it quite amusing when we chat to web development agencies pushing the Magento barrow.  Often the conversation doesn't progress to far as we try to ascertain exactly what it is and what it isn't.  Many end up glossing over some very important points that we would like to address in this article in order to distinguish it from XSQUIZZIT's proprietary TOTECS Platform.

Firstly, lets address what it is first.  Magento is an eCommerce framework comprising a set of components that when put together, create highly functional eCommerce websites.  Who puts it together are very saavy web developers.  They take the framework and design eCommerce websites and web stores using the components relevant to the solution they are putting together.  The power of Mangeto lies in the extensive array of components available.  These components have been developed by the Magento community and released back into the framework.  Whilst conceptually it sounds good so far, the devil is always in the detail.  Lets take a look.

Firstly, Magento is a framework meaning that web developers must use a version of the framework to create their solutions.  Each web developers solution generally differs in some way.  As web browsers and web protocols evolve and developers inject more stuff into the framework, Magento release new versions to the market.  Web developers then need to upgrade their implementations of the framework and this is a tricky task.  It gets even trickier as time passes without upgrades.  Upgrades often cause headaches and can sometimes hinder functions or bring down an eCommerce web store whilst developers scurry to iron out the kinks.   Businesses are starting to wake up to the fact that eCommerce downtime has a much greater impact to their reputation than software failures in the back office.  5 minutes of downtime at peak times can generate enormous frustration for end users. 

Secondly, Magento is written using the php scripting language.  php is a powerful language however as web applications get more complex, its script interpreter can get bogged down and processes requests inefficiently.  It is further compounded for eCommerce sites with large data sets and 1000s of products.  This often leads to slow page loads delaying end users and causing a flurry of phone calls or social media posts from upset customers.   A scripting language interprets the software code first and then executes it.  There are many improvements added to the php engine over the years, but it will never run as fast as compiled source code.  After trawling through many Magento blogs on this topic, there is a lot of commentary surrounding the use of php and the optimisation challenges that go with it.

Thirdly, like many other eCommerce frameworks, Magento is built around the concept of a shopping cart rather than the user relationship.  This works well for simpler online businesses but it breaks down when integration to accounting/ERP systems are required.  Often, web developers add a lot of custom logic to emulate debtor relationships and the workflows that wrap around them ranging from browsing to order submission and fulfilment.  To put it in another way, Magento wasn't built to integrate with back office systems.  Whilst there are some integration plugins available, much of the feedback is that they are limited or cannot handle complex pricing, discount structures, stock enquiries, order processing, payment rules, freight rules and the list goes on.

The XSQUIZZIT TOTECS Platform has been designed and built over 13 years with relationship driven accounting/ERP integration built into it's core design.  Software development occurs using an Agile software development and release framework developed for high availability web applications.  This means that software development occurs in monthly release cycles.  By implication, new software updates are released to the TOTECS Cloud across all client instances.  No client will ever be running on an old version of TOTECS.  The release framework comprises a strict Quality Assurance testing regime and hot fix update mechanism to resolve any introduced critical issues very quickly.   Any new features or modules introduced in a release can be activated by the client in their Administration Centre.

The TOTECS Platform is written using the DWML software language designed by XSQUIZZIT.  The language lends itself to the linear workflows of browser based applications combined with object-oriented design patterns.  The logic is precompiled into binary executable form making for high speed processing of web page requests.  To put it simply, the platform is design for high volume and rapid end user clicks.  The object oriented structures ensure that requests are processed at high speed across large data sets.  Content managed web page components can load at high speed giving the feeling of a responsive application rather than click and wait web page loading.   

These are the major points of comparison I have chosen.  Magento does offer some pretty cool component plugins however back office integration is not build into the core design of the software.  Software updates on a scripted php platform create performance issues for large sites with high traffic.  Ongoing customisations and out-of-date versioning creates room for operational havock that can bring a thriving online business to it's knees.   Conversely, the TOTECS Platform is a solid relationship-driven eCommerce Platform build for scalability, flexibility, high speed page loading and large inventories.   The platform is capable of segmenting inventory across multiple web stores targeted at different audiences and workflows.