OpenCart 3 released – time to upgrade?

OpenCart 3 has been oficially released this Monday and featured on OpenCart forums.

What does this mean for OpenCart and MultiMerch users?

Things we know about OpenCart 3

Generally, OpenCart is known for publishing new releases without much fuss and without much information. The official release blog post states the following improvements.

In-app extension marketplace

OpenCart 3 comes with an in-app extension marketplace which will make it possible for store owners to download and purchase OpenCart extensions directly from the administration area.

While this sounds good in theory, OpenCart still lacks a unified standard for third party extension developers and many popular extensions come with OCMOD/vQmod code, custom setup procedures and possible conflicts with OpenCart core, third party themes and other plugins – which means a high chance of ending up with a broken store after installing a custom plugin. Let's see how this works out in practice.

Crowdin translation integration

OpenCart 3 now includes a new section in the admin area that allows looking for and installing translations from Crowdin, a crowdsourcing translation project.

This should make it easier for store owners to contribute to and install new translations directly from Crowdin. The drawback is that OpenCart lacks proper translations on Crowdin – there are only a few dozen languages and most of them are unfinished. So, to run a decent OpenCart-based store in most languages store owners will still need to turn to professional third party translations available elsewhere.

Theme and language editors

OpenCart 3 makes it possible to edit theme and language files via Theme and Language editors. On one hand, this means it will now be easier for OpenCart store owners to modify their stores without having to resort to file editing via FTP. On the other hand, modifying template and language files is still a technical process and doing this without any technical knowledge will often lead to  – again – a broken store.

Twig as the new PHP template language

This one's mostly intended for developers, but OpenCart now makes Twig the default template language instead of pure phtml. This means third party extensions and templates will need to be rewritten into Twig before they can be used with OpenCart 3.

While many developers have been working on this since early OpenCart 3 alpha versions, it may still take months before most third party extensions and themes are available for OpenCart 3 in Twig. Meanwhile, it's still possible to use both Twig and regular phtml.

No proper upgrade procedure from OpenCart 2 yet

Even though OpenCart 3 is presented as a stable version, apparently the default upgrade script has issues that prevent users from properly upgrading to OpenCart 3.

Still, even when the upgrade script is updated, the issue with third party themes, extensions and modifications remains open. It appears that live store OpenCart 2 to OpenCart 3 upgrade will again be a tedious manual process, pretty much like upgrading OpenCart 1 to OpenCart 2.

Performance issues

A number of users on OpenCart forums and website have noticed performance issues when testing OpenCart 3 compared to OpenCart 2:

From my first tests, it looks like OC 3.0.0.0 is visible slower than OC 2.x.
I haven't had time to analyze it (maybe in the next days), but is it because of the twig?

everything goes to the crapper for speed.
stupid move!

OpenCart 3.0 is noticeably slower that OpenCart 2.3. Has any profiling been done to determine the areas that should be targeted for improvement?

It is currently not clear whether this is due to Twig or something else, but store owners with larger stores will need to keep an eye on performance.

Various bugs

Again, even though OpenCart 3 is presented as stable, there are reports on various issues users have encountered when testing the newly released OpenCart 3.0.

Apparently, an update to OpenCart 3 has been released after the initial 3.0.0.0 launch and reclassified as OpenCart 3.0.0.1 (Beta).

What's our verdict?

As usual, when it comes to major OpenCart releases, we recommend not to switch to the new latest and greatest OpenCart as soon as possible, but rather wait until it matures and becomes stable.

In fact here we agree with what one of the developers behind OpenCart says:

Upgrades, especially from 2.x to 3.x are the equivalent of buying a new car. Your existing paint job, wheels, mods, etc are not carried over to your new car. They have to be rebuilt. Keep this in mind before you think about upgrading. It is also recommended that you use an upgrade service by someone who is familiar with the upgrade process as they can save you time and money in the long run. But they also need time to try the upgrade with the latest version and see what the process needs to be.

Never upgrade on Day 1 release. Give it at least 2 weeks for people to find bugs and any nuances
Don't upgrade if your store is currently successful. There is no point in upgrading just to upgrade. Remember you are running a store to make money, not to be a bleeding edge cart tester. If you crash your store because you chose to upgrade too soon without planning, then you are losing money.

Most 3rd party mods will need to be updated and that takes weeks to months. Depending on the severity of the changes, Many mods may need to be rewritten from scratch so there may be new fees associated with updated versions.

Upgrades to OpenCart, or most other platforms, are not to be taken lightly. It's not like getting the latest updates for Windows.

Any modifications, themes, or addons you had on your old cart will be gone or at least disabled and you are basically building it again from scratch. Your customer, product, and order data can all be preserved, but most themes and 3rd party addons will either need to be reinstalled (when and if there is a compatible version made), and many mods that do not have updates will be lost.

As for MuliMerch itself. We'll be keeping an eye on the new OpenCart 3, but will keep maintaining MultiMerch for the latest stable OpenCart 2.3.0.2 in the near future, as well as recommending this version to all of our new and existing customers.

Once OpenCart 3 is mature enough for live marketplaces and for MultiMerch, we'll let you know :)