PrestaShop a Sad Story
Did you hear the latest version of PrestaShop 1.7 was released today? 1.7 has been in development for over a year and is the latest, greatest, version of PrestaShop. Supposedly. I and a host of other developers think this is the latest in a series of missteps and mistakes from PrestaShop that highlight their arrogance and uselessness in the marketplace.
What gives me the right?
I started playing with PrestaShop in the 1.2 branch of the software in 2009, I have been active in the community for about as long to varying degrees. For the last 6 years I have made living off of working with PrestaShop. I have supported my family with PrestaShop. Now I feel that is going to come to an end, not by my own hand, but because of internal incompetence.
Why do I think this?
I am going to assume that you as a general reader have not been following the development process of PrestaShop 1.7, and have not been involved in the development community. If you have, you might share some of these thoughts and feelings as well. Or you could totally disagree and think I am a moron, it really could go either way.
What does PrestaShop 1.7 bring to the table? What are the major changes in PrestaShop 1.7? As someone that has poured through the code and the features let me say this. If you are a merchant there is not one new feature that will help your shop. Not one. There are a lot of omitted features. Some of the big ones are Advanced Stock Management and the One Page Checkout. Those are the big ones, but there are little features missing as well, some that have been missing for version after version of PrestaShop.
On a basic level 1.7 is not an update. It is a downdate (I just made that up, but I like it, so it stays). If you downdate to 1.7 you can expect to have to purchase more modules than you would have to if you are running 1.6. This was by design. This was half the point of the new version actually. In the past when you went to the modules page, you were presented with your installed modules with mixed in advertised modules. Not any more. Now you are taken to a dedicated advertising page. One that cannot be avoided.
What is PrestaShop 1.7?
PrestaShop 1.7 from what I can tell had 3 main objectives. To ingrate Symfony, to rewrite the product page, and to rewrite the modules page. If you are a shop owner what do these mean to you? They don’t really help you at all to be honest. The product page layout is marginally better, the module page forces you to look at advertisements in a PayPal-esque way. Symfony, that is a point of contention in itself that most shop owners will not understand. For the sake of simplicity let me just say that 1.7 will require more CPU and more memory to host the same size site. At the same time it will deliver slower performance as well.
What is PrestaShop 1.7 missing?
Several things that you might have grown accustom to is the answer. Every time PrestaShop releases a new version the timeline of the release becomes an issue with management so features get dropped. PrestaShop 1.4 had features that PrestaShop 1.5 and 1.6 did not have. 1.5 had features that 1.6 did not have, and now we are at PrestaShop 1.7 that does not have the features that 1.6 had.
One Page Checkout
If you liked this, you are not alone, a lot of people did. It’s a shame 1.7 does not have this feature.
Advanced Stock Management
Some companies relied on this. Apparently PrestaShop could not get the bugs worked out of this and dropped it from the 1.7 release.
This is the backbone of icons in a theme. It is a font file that any developer can latch onto and put a Facebook icon in their module or a cart icon. This was dropped however. Now every module has to include their own bloating the size of your site.
Cart Drop Down
There was a time when you hovered over the cart on a PrestaShop site, it would drop down and show you what was in the cart. That time has passed. Welcome to 1990.
These developers suck
If you experience the daily problems with PrestaShop it is pretty easy to say that. But I think saying that would be wrong. Let’s take a good hard look at PrestaShop. Hard, painful, and deep. PrestaShop is a company of between 150 and 200 people built around an ecommerce platform as their main product. How much of their company is actually dedicated to developing that platform? 50%? 40%? 25%? No. About 4% of the company are developers working on the actual platform. To be specific there are 6 developers in a 150–200 person company working on the end product. The rest are there to manage the managers who are managing the people trying to manage selling you modules.
It makes it a little easier to see how things are not getting done. How features have not been added in over a year. How features are being removed because there is no enough labor. There is the other struggle though too, the struggle of actually working for PrestaShop. If you look at their Glassdoor page you can see what it is like. You can see what people actually think about working for them. Why they cannot keep good talent. Below are some of the selected quotes from their Glassdoor page which might shed a little light on things.
“DO NOT WORK HERE!”
“If you are in the U.S., look elsewhere.”
“Used to be good”
These last two are translated from French.
“A huge untapped potential, shame”
“A beautiful business ruined by a shabby top management”
The last one really sticks with me. It highlights perfectly the problem. This review by an employee was recent too, only last week he left it. Let’s look at what he actually said in the whole review.
“Everything else! It’s slap in the legs between services, everything is centralized around a CEO can not answer an email within 2 months. People who are competent are not listened to. Technically, the technical debt is neither understood nor controlled. We find ourselves in a box in the actual inability to deliver a good product on time because managed by neophytes in the world of software.”
I think it can be easily summed up that the CEO of PrestaShop, Corrine Lejbowicz, does not know what she is doing. Well, I take that back. If she is trying to run it into the ground, she is excellent at what she is doing. She is world class, an all-star. Look at her linked in bio. 250,000 thousand shops use PrestaShop. She has been there a year and a half and cut that number in half. There can be no moving forward with the current management. There was a time that PrestaShop had great developers, some of the best in the industry. Now no one wants to work there, not even kids fresh out of 42.
Let us be open
I have worked in ecommerce for 7 years, mostly as a developer, but also as a seller to. I have seen ups and downs and trends come and go. There were features and modules I wanted 2 years ago that I would not be caught dead recommending today. Things change, some for the better, others for the worse. PrestaShop has changed for the worse. I cannot keep recommending PrestaShop like I used to. PrestaShop has turned into that one guy we went to high school with that never did anything with his life. He just keeps talking about high school. He never grew up, he never amounted to anything. This is PrestaShop.
Let’s take the high school guy analogy and run with it. PrestaShop is the guy you look at and say where are you today? It answers that it is stuck in the past. I have new clothes, but no new skills. Even less skills actually. What are you doing to better yourself? Buy more modules, I have reduced what I will do for free. Well are your bugs fixed? No, but we made a new theme for both the front and back office. We put lipstick on a pig.
There was a time that PrestaShop was so promising. Very Promising, it was growing, it was taking the ecommerce scene by storm. Those times are not today. The community has died under bad leadership. Module sales are drying up. Developers are leaving. The company is going under. Merchants are leaving the platform. People will be laid off. This ship is sinking.
Can this ship be unsunk?
Anything is possible with good leadership. A good leader taps into the pulse of what they are leading. They lead the direction of markets, they lead the direction of a platform. They innovate. They make a platform that other platforms copy. Leadership is how you become a market leader. At this point is it possible for PrestaShop to turn things around? It might be. Things would have to change for this to happen, namely, they would need to listen to merchants. If PrestaShop pulled the wool from its eyes it could see clearly, the world it at its feet, but it is standing on the ceiling. I don’t think they are defeated, if they listen to their merchants advice they can turn this ship around.
Abandon 1.7’s code base
Nepotism. French nepotism. Why did PrestaShop make a move to Symfony? Symfony is French. French companies like to stay French. One of the big changes with PrestaShop 1.7 is that it is making the transition to Symfony as the core. What does this mean for users? More code overhead to do simple functions in your shop. A slower shop. A shop that requires a server with more memory. More expensive hosting. But what is the up side? There is really only one, modules are marginally easier to write. That is all. It does not reduce bugs. It does not speed up your shop, in fact it slows it down. It does not drive conversions. It is useless. It is French people pandering to other French people and telling their merchants to go get fucked.
Fix the 1.6 code base
The 1.6 code base is not terrible, it is only bad. There are things that were implemented in a hurry and they show. Can they be fixed? Sure they can, some things need to be changed too. But is it time to throw the code base out and adopt another? No, it’s not. Fix the problem areas, review the code, optimize it, and build on it. Does the 1.6 code base have problems, sure it does, nothing is perfect. But it’s not ready to be thrown away.
PrestaShop 1.7 was never about fixing bugs. Let me loosely quote Julien Martin the leader of the core development team at PrestaShop “This release is not about fixing bugs, there will be very few bug fixes” There would have been too, if it was not for the community. The community of unpaid developers that donate their time to the project handled most every bug fix in the 1.7 version. Because as they stated PrestaShop does not care about fixing bugs or having a stable platform. The concern is having a modules page that can more effectively sell modules.
Add features merchants need
PrestaShop has gone over a year without a new feature added. No new features to help you sell, no new features to help increase your conversions or manage your shop, nothing. Its almost like the whole point of PrestaShop is to lure you in to buy modules. I suspect that adding new features would keep more merchants from leaving the platform and leave the merchants happier. I have listened to the merchants that I work for and they have told me feature after feature they want. I have compiled a short list of the features that I think would make PrestaShop successful if they added them to the core.
· A better cart abandonment system built directly into the core.
· Editing of templates and css files from the back office
· Configurable product sorting and searching from the back office
· Ability to process credit card transactions and other payments from the back office.
· Clean urls.
· Better built in shipping options.
· Different product images depending on the language.
· The ability to add advertising and tracking codes easily.
· More product configuration options such as ISBN and ASIN numbers.
· Favicons that work with Apple devices
· A fucking blog!
These are some of the things I hear merchants request when I work on their shops. They ask why every other platform like Shopify, Magento, CS Cart, 3d Cart has them. Why do they? Because they listen to their merchants, that’s why! If you look at the hard, sad, hard facts they are taking market share from PrestaShop in handfuls. Handfuls.
So can this ship be turned around? It can. Not under the current leadership, but it can.
This is the end of my rant, my feelings. Please leave me a comment, tell me your thoughts. Tell me I am wrong. Agree with me. Bid Adieu to PrestaShop with me. Something.