An update on the MageBridge platform

A lot of things happened since our last blog on MageBridge, so we felt it would be good to add some notes on what we have done with MageBridge in the past months. Here are some notes on template patches, SSO, HHVM and Z-Ray.

Discontinuing MageBridge Template Patches

In the past, we were actively developing so-called template patches: Ready-to-go CSS patches for various popular Joomla templates (RocketTheme, YOOOtheme) which allowed a Joomla site implementor to quickly integrate the Magento Default Theme with a particular Joomla template. We were offering patches for over 100 different templates and actually maintaining all these patches became a cumbersome job. Since February 2015, we have stopped developing these patches.

This might sound like a dramatic change - it is not. The patches we created were simply a bundle of CSS fixes. However, the default CSS of the MageBridge component (that is still part of the MageBridge core and will not be deprecated) still offers many of these CSS fixes. Also, with Bootstrap becoming more and more popular in Joomla, it becomes easier to implement a Joomla site with MageBridge without requiring that many CSS modifications.

Additionally, we have made all our previous work on patches available on GitHub, so you can learn from example - or simply use the patches directly if you want.

Work on Single Sign In and Single Sign On

While Single Sign In (SSI) and Single Sign On (SSO) are very different things, they often are confused. When integrating Magento and Joomla, MageBridge takes care off user-record syncing. That's SSI and almost all cases, this is what you need to have working - it is therefore also core functionality in MageBridge.

With SSO, we differentiate between local SSO and remote SSO. We speak of local SSO when Magento is visually merged into Joomla, so that actually Magento and Joomla are both in the same webpage. When Magento and Joomla are kept separate however, so when an user goes to the cart, he/she leaves Joomla and visits the standalone Magento application instead: In this case, SSO becomes more of an issue.

However, when Joomla and Magento are still in the same domain, the same cookies can be used - and we therefore still speak of local SSO. When the domains are different however, we speak of remote SSO. While local SSO simply relies on cookie sharing, with remote SSO session information will need to be synced through the bridge itself.

We have fixed various issues with cookie sharing and remote SSO - this should make it easier to implement different SSO variations. Also, we have reimplemented the way that SSI and SSO work with the Magento backend: You can know easily login to the Joomla admin, and be simultaneously logged into the Magento Admin Panel. Sweet.

Support for HHVM (Docker-based)

Magento is a complex enterprise application and can be slow if not enough time is spent on performance tuning. While the right tuning can give a great boost to Magento, we always want things to run faster. In 2014, we had already some MageBridge customers switching to HHVM and we have spent some time on testing things one-time-only.

Recently, we have vamped up a Docker-image (virtualization layer) that allows us to contuously run various MageBridge test-sites under HHVM. With that, we expect to confirm a bit more that MageBridge is able to run on HHVM. Unfortunately, neither Magento or Joomla are officially supported under HHVM, so neither will MageBridge.

Z-Ray for MageBridge

In February, we have worked together with Zend (the PHP company), to create a Joomla extension for their Zend Server Z-Ray product: Z-Ray is an add-on to Zend Server - it offers an excellent profiling and debugging toolbar to each webapplication run under Zend Server. With our extension, that will be part of Zend Server itself, Z-Ray will detect Joomla and show all kinds of neat details automatically (loaded module, events, triggered plugins, etcetera).

With the Z-Ray extension for Joomla finished, we are looking ahead to also create a Z-Ray extension for MageBridge: This extension will allow you to debug the bridge functionality, see which API resources are called, which JavaScript files are disabled, which blocks are bridged, so on. If you are a PHP dev working with MageBridge, the combination of this new Z-Ray extension for MageBridge and Zend Server 8 will simply speed up your building process! We really believe this is awesome.

So long

I hope you enjoy these updates as much as we do. If you want to play with MageBridge, note that MageBridge is completely open source and GitHub based since 2014. It's usage is free, our support is available per subscription. So long!

Written by Jisse Reitsma op 12 March 2015

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