Who Has Recent Magento or X-Cart Experience?

It's time for a client of mine to move to a new e-commerce platform. I've already got a couple smaller shops on CS-Cart and they are happy. This client is much bigger with more sophisticated needs. I was going to put them on CS-Cart but I'm pausing on that decision. Reason is, I expect to get more larger clients and the industry seems to be headed towards Magento. When I need to subcontract customization of skins, coding, etc, it's much easier to find people for X-Cart or Magento, instead of CS-Cart. But that's not the main reason. The main reason is I expect larger businesses are going to need/request Magento implementation and modification so sooner or later I'm going to need to be up to speed on Magento if I want to grow my base of larger clients.

I am aware in the earlier days of Magento, there were many bugs and many people tried to run it on non-dedicated servers and it was too slow. We already have Enterprise class dedicated servers but frankly, the $14K/year is pushing the software budget on this mid-sized client. I've also heard the horror stories on the steep learning curve on Magento and that the code is organization is much more complex than CS-Cart.

The major frustration though I have with CS-Cart is the lack of enterprise-class add-on modules, specifically involving Ebay and Amazon store integration. You can easily get that functionality for Magento or X-Cart. This is what is REALLY pushing me to examine whether I need to take a second look at Magento for larger clients, but with this client, I think Community Edition is the way to go as they would rather put the $14K into having someone who already manages all their E-commerce operations get up to speed and perform the extensive customization that will be required.

Sorry to be so wordy. To get to the point. I know obviously responses will be biased here, but again, I'm a big CS-Cart fan. I'm just wondering, now, in 2013, how are things looking for Magento Community and X-Cart compared to CS-Cart. I would guess very few people here can say they have worked with the most recent versions of these other carts recently, but hopefully there are a few people here that can give some insight?

You're spot on and it's a problem addressed many times here on the forum. News got out cs-cart is getting a REST API in version 3.1 though, after which things can go fast. Version 3 and 3 ultimate are fantastic carts, the community and also amount of developers found on elancer and stuff are growing fast, and I am sure many plugins will be released when the API is in place.

Also, for 14k you could build a dream of a cs-cart setup, and even have cs-carts dev team build you the implementations you need.

You should also have a look at Brightpearl, which is an all-in-one backend system for ecommerce shops, which includes feeds to Amazon, Ebay, crm, shipping, accounting, etc.

I have been working with Magento for years. There is no doubt that Magento is a beast and has a seriously steep learning curve. Its a monster. When I first started with it I felt like I was climbing mount Everest with toothpicks. It takes a long time to learn where everything is at, how it works together, and what to change.

That being said, there is no other way I would go for a large scale site. I love CS Cart for my own smaller site, but when you need to go big there is no denying the power and flexibility of Magento.

Here are a few things I leaned along the way:

We got the Enterprise license version of magento. Two years down the road I seriously wish we hadn't. There is absolutely no benefit to the Enterprise version. There are only a handful of features above and beyond the community version, and all of those can be added via extensions. What about the Enterprise support? A waste of time and money. I have contacted support 8 times over the last two years, each and every time it took them weeks to get back to me with a solution. By that time I had already found the solutions on the Magento forums and implemented it, all eight times.

Magento has been virtually bug free, nearly every bug we have run into was created by a custom developer that didn't think things through.

It takes a pretty good server to run Magento. We pay about $1000 a month for a dedicated server, and Magento runs like a dream on it. Tweaking the MySQL server to better fit Magento's needs and to use more memory can make all the difference in the world.

The real power does not lie in the SOAP API, it lies in the internal API, like being able to call any internal function or manipulate any object wherever you like. I've used this to write a whole toolbox full of scripts that do everything from integrating orders with our in house system, to full custom shopping feed creation. Once you get the hang of how everything works you can do just about anything.

Due to the complexity and the massive amount of code, you just about have to use SVN or some other versioning system. Being able to reference past changes is an absolute must.