Magento Issues Caused by Extension Conflicts, and How to Survive Them
Learn how to prevent and solve Magento issues that result from conflicts between the platform and third-party extensions.
Implementing a new module to a working Magento environment is quite a challenge. Why so? A Magento web store with all its server and database configurations, custom code, and third-party extensions is like an orchestra that will sound terrible if an amateur musician comes in.
To keep the Magento web store performing well after introducing new features, merchants should know how to pick the right players, introduce them to the orchestra, and resolve conflicts between musicians if they appear. Whether you are going to prevent Magento issues and achieve system stability using the in-house resources or with the help of an ecommerce development company, this guide definitely has some practical ideas for you.
How to Choose the Right Magento Extension?
This should be the number one question for everyone who wants to avoid Magento compatibility issues. Introducing one poorly coded extension into a fragile web store environment can affect the performance of the whole system—even if you uninstall the causer shortly after launching. Some proven rules will help you carefully choose a Magento extension and this way minimize low compatibility risks.
#1. Browse Magento Marketplace
In line with the Extension Quality Program, all modules available on Magento Marketplace go through a thorough review process. This means, when buying an extension that is listed on Magento Marketplace, you also purchase a guarantee that the extension is coded well enough to run on the platform smoothly.
#2. Сheck Compatibility with the Latest Versions
As Magento is constantly advancing, modules on Magento Marketplace can become outdated if their vendors fail to keep pace with the changes in the platform core. Therefore, check that the module you want to launch is compatible with the latest Magento versions. As an extra measure, look through the changelog to learn how often the module is updated and what the most common tweaks are. If the extension was last updated two years ago or if the modifications were only bug fixes, perhaps this is not the best Magento extension to choose.
#3. Try Demos and Read User Guides
Product descriptions often praise features a bit more than they deserve. Check demos and look through publicly available user guides to understand the actual functionality of a Magento module.
#4. Study Reviews
Pay attention not only to the average score but also to the most cited problems and whether they keep appearing in the latest reviews. This will indicate how quickly a vendor supports their product. Sometimes, customers even mention the module’s compatibility with particular features or praise a great support team, which is always good.
#5. Look at Vendors’ Badges
Magento Partners have to abide by the platform extra requirements. For example, Premier Technology Partners use their Magento development experience to contribute to the technology enhancements of the platform and educational activities for the community. This way a badge indicates higher reliability and expertise of the extension vendor.
#6. Contact Vendors
One of the critical characteristics of good vendors is their responsiveness. Consider how fast and informative the vendor answers to customers’ comments and negative reviews on the Magento Marketplace. As an alternative, you can call the support team yourself and ask the questions you have. The quality and depth of answers will hint you at the level of service you can expect after becoming a client.
#7. Remember that Price is Not the Key Factor
It happens that cheaper extensions have even better functionality than their more expensive alternatives. Some Premier Technology Partners release free Magento extensions with great functionality.
What for? Reasons vary: to attract attention to their brand, to let merchants test the quality of the modules, or just to keep the customer community loyal. Sorting and quick calculations show that out of 890 Magento extensions rated 4+ stars on Marketplace 335 are free. So take your time to study offerings and, most likely, you will find good value for money.
To make the choice simpler, read a review of the best Magento extensions for the essential web store functionality.
Why do Magento Compatibility Issues Happen?
However good extensions and vendors you pick, several risk factors can trigger compatibility problems. Let’s look closer at them.
#1. Extensions Don’t Match Magento Edition and Version
Magento extensions are released for particular Magento versions and system configurations, so an attempt to install a module on an earlier or later version than the vendor recommends can cause an error. The roots of the problem are in the enhancements that the Magento team introduces to their platform with every new release. Changes in technology support (for example, PHP 7.0 support was completely dropped in December 2018) can affect the performance of custom modules and extensions.
#2. Third-Party Modules Duplicate Magento Functionality
This can happen if a merchant doesn’t know all the features that the platform has by default (for example, Enterprise Edition includes many features that the Community Edition doesn’t have). Alternatively, a web store owner can want to access specific features included in a module that are to some extent similar to the OOTB tools.
#3. Extension Conflicts
In most cases, web store owners turn to a professional team or hire in-house developers to tweak the platform to meet their needs and showcase brand values. However, custom code can affect the performance of third-party modules. Another source of conflicts appears when merchants pick products from different vendors.
Conflicts appear when extensions run the same requests to the database, use the same methods and classes, and run conflicting commands to the platform. For example, quite often modules damage the performance of each other when they override the same class with their own. The latest extension can’t find the needed class and fails to run.
In addition, some cheaper options cost less not only for the reason that they provide limited functionality but also for the poor code quality that can lead to bugs and Magento 2 performance issues. So, again, double-check the vendor’s reputation before buying an extension.
#4. Extensions Don’t Match PHP and MySQL Versions
If the extension should run in PHP 7.2, it can fail to integrate on a server with previous PHP and MySQL configurations. The same is true in the reverse case. A regular update of the Magento platform sometimes requires switching to a more advanced PHP version or updating the database technology. Such system and server upgrades can lead to issues with pre-installed extensions.
How to Prevent Magento Compatibility Issues?
In short, you should create conditions in which common Magento issues can’t appear. These 6 life hacks show the way to do it.
#1. Check the Basics
Before you install Magento extensions, make sure that your web store meets system requirements as well as platform editions and versions listed by their vendor. Also, update your Magento web store and PHP version regularly to prevent issues with modules designed for more advanced platform configurations.
#2. Avoid Duplicates
Check that the functionality of a third-party module doesn’t copy the capabilities of the platform itself and other preinstalled modules. If you still need these cutting-edge features, disable the OOTB parts that conflict with them.
# 3. Pick Vendors Strategically
If possible, prefer to use several Magento extensions from one vendor as they adhere to particular coding standards and are less prone to conflict with each other. As an extra check, look for extensions that are compatible with those that you are using.
#4. Choose Toolkits
Toolkits are more reliable than self-made combinations of standalone Magento extensions. The more modules you install, the higher are the chances that they fail to work well together. Toolkits solve this problem to a certain extent as they include the functionality of several popular modules and deliver it as a fully-compatible set. Besides, toolkits cost less thanks to the bulk discount. All that is left is to choose a reliable vendor and plan the upgrades of the Magento web store prospectively.
#5. Test Twice and Cut Once
Even the best modules sometimes have bugs. Launching the extension in a testing environment helps one make sure the module works as it should. Also, consider running compatibility tests after you introduce the module to the actual web store. The earlier you spot Magento extension conflicts, the better.
#6. Consult those Who Know
Ask professionals to review your custom code and securely implement third-party modules in the working environment. Thanks to day-to-day experience with specific Magento implementations, ecommerce development companies look at extensions differently. They evaluate the quality of modules based on previous success stories and code, rather than on suspiciously positive reviews and eloquent product descriptions.
As Magento professionals focus on the performance of the whole web store, they can find how to avoid common Magento issues and how to get the needed functionality in the most economical way. Sometimes two more advanced Magento modules include the functionality of three or four cheaper alternatives. So, decent Magento consulting is not only about the seamless installation of extensions, it is about optimizing investments and maximizing returns.
How to Solve Magento Issues that Regard Compatibility?
Unfortunately, most often we start thinking about prevention only after we get a problem to tackle. A merchant has four options to deal with Magento issues caused by poor compatibility.
#1. Try Doing it Yourself
Though this is definitely not recommended for non-professionals, you can try resolving Magento extensions conflicts yourself. For this, first you need to identify the problematic modules. Most extensions that have the code <rewrite> in the config.html file are potential triggers of issues. This means such extensions replace the default classes of the Magento platform. If two such extensions have the same classes they will conflict with each other. To spot such extensions without opening every file, you can perform a 3-step check:
- Step 1. Copy the error message. You need it to test the results.
- Step 2. Turn off your last installed module with the help of the command php bin/magento module:disable Module_Name. If the problem disappears, it regards compatibility indeed. Now you can proceed to Step 3.
- Step 3. Turn on the last installed module and start disabling other extensions one by one beginning with those that deliver the functionality related to the last installed module.
Steps 2 and 3 will help you identify the conflicting Magento extensions. This method won’t work for modules incompatible with custom themes. Such challenges should be left for experienced Magento developers.
After you find out the two extensions that rewrite one class, you have at least two options:
- Merge the conflicting code. For this, create your own class that includes the changes of both conflicting extensions. Also, make sure that you change the sequence of loading your Magento modules accordingly. To achieve this, open xml and name the extension that you want to be the key one in the very end.
- Make one of the extensions depend on another. Go to the module file for Module_1 in app/etc/modules and add the tag <depends Module_2 />. This way, Magento will first address Module 1 and then Module 2.
#2. Use Specially Designed Extensions
The Magento market offers several conflict detecting extensions that make it easier to find and resolve platform conflicts.
- What can conflict checkers do?
Drawing on the most common cases, conflict checkers scan the whole Magento web store environment, including third-party extensions; spot different conflicts; and provide instructions to solve detected troubles. For example, such checkers can analyze whether PHP runs correctly and cron tasks are performed as they should. They also provide user-friendly interfaces for enabling/disabling modules, inspecting error logs, and tracking specific events.
- What are their cons?
The price for good conflict checkers starts from $50. And however helpful they are, conflict detecting modules can still fail to resolve your particular case, especially if the web store was highly customized. If you decide to try this option, make sure you choose a conflict checker with a back-up function. This feature lets you save the info about conflicts before resolution and cancel the changes should anything go wrong.
#3. Contact Magento Extension Vendors
Whether you choose the option #1 or #2, you can contact the vendor if you see that the conflicting modules are issued by one Magento partner. This is a rare and lucky case as trusted vendors normally resolve such Magento issues themselves to maintain a good reputation.
#4. Consult Professional Magento Developers
Magento provides so much guidance on how to tweak their platform. Magento extension vendors normally even have a short period of free support. At first sight, Magento consulting may seem an unnecessary expense.
Let’s take another look.
- Magento developer documentation is helpful when you need to understand how the platform works. However, mastering the ins and outs of the platform takes a lot of time.
- The support guaranteed by Magento extension vendors covers only general assistance in case of failures to meet the module descriptions and bugs. The Magento issues regarding conflicts with third-party extensions or custom features are beyond support teams’ responsibilities.
Diving deep into the customized environment of a working Magento web store and fishing out the ways to seamlessly integrate new functionality is another story. This is where ecommerce development companies can jump in. Magento consultants can improve the overall performance of the web store and prevent or fix (if needed) issues regardless of their complexity. The key advantage of a professional team is their power to make changes without affecting customer experience, which is definitely the goal of all medium-to-large merchants.
Let’s quickly recap the key points:
- Try preventing Magento compatibility issues by choosing extensions from reliable vendors listed on Magento Marketplace.
- Use toolsets or prefer extensions issued by one vendor.
- Regularly update your Magento web store and all installed extensions.
- If your web store is medium-sized, large and/or has many custom elements, it is better to turn to ecommerce development companies to solve extension conflicts.
Hope this guide helped you find a way to solving compatibility issues.
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