Best new Features and functionality with Magneto 2.
Magento 2 superseeds Magento 1's reign as one of the leasding eCommerce platforms in use on the web. Magento offers a highly flexible virtual storefront that can be customised to suit your needs with modules and customisations within themes.
Magento 2 instantly shows a huge overhaul in user interface from the previous Magento 1 versions which were beginning to look tad dated. Magento 1 still is a fantastic platform and has it's advantages over Magento 2 however here are the new features and functionality available.
Magento 2 supports PHP 7 which brings along with it security updates and improvements in performance especially with the newish PHP Opcache which compiles PHP on the fly to vastly improve performance similar to Facebook Hip Hop Virtual Machine (HHVM). This I did run a few Magento 1 stores with and found performance to really get a boost however opcache performs similarly here and there is no longer a need to modify the code to work on an unsupported platform.
Out of the box Magento 2 user experience vastly improves on that of the original default themes within Magneto 1 and the RWD (Responsive Web Design) themes introduced later in Magento 1. One of the first things i noticed was that the new luma theme looked cleaner than RWD. The initial homepage example is beautiful showing a similar look to that of Windows metro tiles and allow to show visually focused (need a better word here) blocks for your homepage. I instantly however found that responsiveness of the pages does not work great and created homepages from scratch with whatever functionality is required.
The overall use of the store seems quicker and easier out of the box. This is thanks to the newly added full-page cache (FPC) built into Magento 2. The FPC works surprisingly well and although not the recommended approach with Magento 2 for a FPC (see varnish and magento2) offers page speeds well under half a second. Unfortunately, there is not a cache warm up feature available here but this is something that can be added to make your store fly. Another great feature out of the box now is the use of AJAX adding to cart. Pages no longer need to reload when adding products to the cart improving customers ease of use.
Out of the box Magento 2 now officially support Varnish a web application accelerator also known as a caching HTTP reverse proxy. This allows for lightning fast response times from your site once cached and significantly improves on the already quick default FPC already in place within Magento 2. This does take a fair bit of additional configuration and testing however the results are well worth the effort and would recommend this to be taken advantage of if possible.
Magneto 2 now features minimised and bundled JS /CSS files to help reduce total number of requests and page weight when serving your storefront. Image compression is not also possible within Magento to help reduce page load speeds.
The checkout I feel is a nice improvement with a simple and clean 2 step process for adding shipment information and payment details. There is also the introduction of a one click account creation after checkout that uses the data from checkout to streamline what can be a tedious process.
The look and feel not only has improved on the frontend administrating your new Magento 2 store shows vast changes to the user interface that once you are used to are easy to use and a pleasure on the eye. The new admin is responsive adapting nicely to the range of devices i have tested with so far. Configuring the product grids to include attributes within filters or the grid is also now a breeze making administrating your store easily adaptable to suit your specific needs.
Magneto 2 features some new security enhancements including only allowing one admin account to be logged into the system at once. Other improvements are that of the new pub directory that sits within the magneto filesystem. This blocks access to root directory assets and folders like var. Previously folders like var and downloader were easily accessible within the Magento root and although it is always recommended to block these using htaccess or even move them out of the root directory the new pub directory helps with keeping all these inaccessible. Support long into the foreseeable future for security patches and updates is another major advantage here especially with the support period for Magento 1 rapidly approaching currently dated at November 2018.