Drupal Commerce for the "Rest of Us"

We built Drupal Commerce to be an eCommerce framework because of the limitations we kept running into using and developing for Ubercart. Based on our experience, we knew that we needed a module package that made as few hard-coded assumptions as possible about how a site’s eCommerce systems should function. What we have now with Drupal Commerce, Views, and Rules has worked very well for us and our partners on numerous large eCommerce sites with complex requirements. If you’ve created one of the 10,000+ Drupal Commerce sites online, we hope it’s proved useful for your projects, too.

However, we knew going in that creating a no-assumptions framework may privilege developers but involves very real user experience trade-offs, especially for non-technical users who prefer or expect to configure and administer every aspect of the store through the UI. We’ve seen the continued confusion in the forums, issue queue, and blog posts, and we know that simplifying the user experience is crucial to Drupal Commerce’s continue growth and success. At the same time we’ve realized that this won’t happen (or won’t happen soon enough) without a sustained, focused effort.

To address this need, we gathered Ryan, Bojan, Nicolas and a couple of other smart people in Paris last month to launch a new and improved version of Commerce Kickstart that we refer to in-house as Kickstart v2 (the final project name being subject to change). Commerce Kickstart is a distribution of Drupal that installs and configures Drupal Commerce for use along with example store content, making it the quickest way to get up and running with Drupal Commerce. We’ve always intended for distributions like this to be the solution for simplified and tailor-made user experiences in line with our philosophy about the limited UX scope of the core Drupal Commerce modules. However, distributions still depend on a lot of module development, theming, and forethought to prove helpful to new users.

The scope of Kickstart v2 will expand to cover the general use-case of selling physical goods through an online store. Our guiding principles and goals for the new version include:

  • Make it easier for new users to setup a Drupal Commerce store by providing clear examples, smart initial configurations, and very thorough documentation.
  • Give users the experience they expect when they install an eCommerce application like a product catalog, shipping options, payment options, coupons, advanced product image features, and more.
  • Make good UI choices that solve the problems experienced by 80% of users (aka "Do not try to solve everything for everybody").
  • Simplify on-site product management by combining the creation of products with the creation of product displays through the one node form.
  • Give more tools to store administrators to help them manage their customers, products, and orders on the back-end of the site.

We plan to reach a stable version of the distribution in mid-August 2012, just in time for DrupalCon Munich. We’ll be developing everything out in the open on drupal.org, so if you are interested in lending a hand or suggesting ideas, keep an eye on the Commerce Kickstart 2.x meta-issue in the project’s issue queue. We’ll link from there to the projects we hope to contribute to and see included in a revamped Commerce Kickstart.

If you’re going to DrupalCon Denver, we’re also planning a "Birds of a Feather" session for Thursday, March 22 to present the wireframes and code in progress (right now limited to the inline product form and addressbook). Check out the BoF board for the time (again, subject to change) and consider joining us - we’d love to have your feedback and ideas!

Finally, we plan to maintain a base Drupal Commerce distribution inside or alongside of Kickstart v2 that includes all the tools you need to build your next Drupal Commerce distribution more quickly. We’ve seen several great Drupal Commerce distributions thus far, but there are still many modern eCommerce use cases and business models that could be addressed in more tailor-made distributions. The more the merrier!

Ryan's picture
President / CEO
Posted March 16, 2012

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