Sylius - The Revolution of eCommerce
Originally Sylius is based on a software of a family company. Why did the cosmetics company focus on its own shopsystem? Why was the code freely available for Pawel as a base for Sylius?
Pawel: I was always a programming-geek. I was just starting with commercial projects, so when my family wanted to have a website to sell cosmetics, I decided to learn the ins-and-outs of an eCommerce system by building one myself.
And that is also why I wanted to make it Open Source. Firstly I knew it’s the best way to get a reasonable feedback to what you code - and thanks to that make progress as a developer. Secondly, as a strong community of sharing believer - I found it reasonable to make it available for everyone. In the end, you get what you give ;).
How arise the idea of making the code available for the public? When was it clear, that it will be an independent shop-system? Aren’t there actually enough shop-systems?
Tim: As Pawel wrote above, in Open Source you learn from each other - thanks to the opinion from more experienced developers with different perspectives. And also by observing other trends and apps being created all around the world. 2013 was the year when Paweł already knew Sylius will be an independent shop-system and the development of the main platform started.
"In Open Source you learn from each other - thanks to the opinion from more experienced developers with different perspectives."
Well, there’s never enough of any solutions, if you can create something better, right? ;). Paweł has seen the niche for a new framework from the very beginning. As a clean-code maniac, he has known there’s no really enjoyable technology if you are a programmer. Most of the existing platforms leave a huge technical-debt, which often dramatically cuts back the growth of every business. What is more, Paweł has paid a close attention to the eCommerce market and noticed that more and more developers complain on messiness of legacy platforms like Magento or PrestaShop. There was no real alternative.
Which benefits has Sylius in advantage over proprietary eCommerce frameworks? Costs excluded?
- Integration & hosting ease
I think the main and biggest advantage of Sylius is the integration ease. You can literally combine it with any app you currently use in your business. There’s no need to build a website from scratch anymore and waste hours of developers’ time on coding. This flexibility also implicates the simplicity of hosting. Sylius can be easily deployed on the most popular clouds. This makes scaling and implementing new features cost you less money & time and ensures extremely high performance.
- Decoupled architecture
What is more, you don’t have to use Sylius as a whole. We call our app a framework, because it is constructed from decoupled elements. Sylius is fully based on Symfony - the best and biggest Open Source PHP framework. It means that if you know Symfony, you can use any component you want and work on it separately from the Core Platform or add it to your existing systems.
- High reliability and tested code
What I can surely say about Sylius is its reliability. Every day I see how much guys in here are excited about all innovations and how they implement them to the code. Built with SOLID principles and testing in mind, our technology is exceptionally fluent. Unfortunately it is not so obvious if you take current standards on the market.
In Sylius everything is tested and testable. That ensures real comfort to any business owner who for example deals with many orders and notices high traffic on his website. We know how important stable technology is for the business maintenance and growth. That is why we especially focus on the code quality and want to be sure that our app gives the best possible performance and is not plagued by bugs caused by poor development practices.
- API For Modern eCommerce Web Apps (SPA/PWA)
I also have to mention the latest innovation we’ve been developing - ShopApiPlugin - an API based shop implementation which makes any integration with front-end framework much easier. Actually, I’m not aware of any other modern eCommerce solution that would pay attention to facilitate back-end and front-end connection. And in Sylius it doesn’t matter if it is a mobile app, PWA (Progressive Web App) or just a simple Angular/React/VUE.js based website - it’s never been easier.
Finally, perhaps a value more crucial than any other technical aspects is the Sylius People. We have an outstanding, wide and friendly community, always ready to help with any issue. There are many true Sylius Evangelists, who significantly contribute and diffuse Sylius rumour in their local environment or even entire countries. We always have a great contact with each others. Sometimes I feel like Sylius somehow draws attention of similar people - who follow the same philosophy - that by making it easier for people to trade using technology, we can make the world a better place.
"...almost 1200 forks on GitHub."
How many Core-Developers are working on Sylius? How big is the Community already? And in which countries is Sylius used?
Pawel: Currently we have 6 Core Developers working on Sylius in our office. For now, there are over 400 contributors and almost 1200 forks on GitHub. Our fastest growing channel for developers is Slack, with almost 700 members. Not to mention Twitter, with an audience just about to reach 4000 followers. We also have over 700 translators on Crowdin, as Sylius UI translated to almost all widely used languages in the world... All of these are organic results, achieved with no paid ads and almost non-existent promotion budgets. Just word-of-mouth marketing. And the numbers are rising every day ;).
Sylius is getting more and more popular especially in Germany, thanks to awesome companies like solutionDrive ;). Because of Symfony origins, there is obviously quite a community in France. But also USA, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Ukraine, Russia and many, many more. We receive a lot of partner requests and get information about new Sylius based websites from all around the world on a daily basis. Developers from the African and Asian countries also are part of our community.
Which is the most successful and which one the biggest Sylius shop?
Tim: Definitely one of the biggest is REISS, a fashion brand from the UK. POPSUGAR’s subscription box MUST HAVE also relied on Sylius for thousands of subscribers and have been successful. Famous Asia’s trendsetting magazine Hypebeast shop relied on Sylius components for years now. These brands are really brave for adopting Sylius so early and we expect more amazing companies to follow their example when we go stable.
We’re systematically adding more and more wonderful Sylius-based websites to our showcase, which you can find on our website.
Which customers already use Sylius? Why did they choose your framework? Which custom-built extras should be made?
Pawel: There are plenty of shops all around the world built with Sylius. As a free Open Source and flexible platform it has been used to many small and really big websites. But it functions best in the mid-market, innovative businesses.
Sylius is designed for tailored eCommerce solutions, which means that it fits perfectly to the unusual and custom needs. Most of the existing out-of-the-box solutions don’t match such requirements. And as you already know, Sylius can be shaped the way you want. The templating system combined with the flexibility of the shopping process allows for expressing even the most unique look and feel of a brand. We also know of many companies who decided to migrate to Sylius from the legacy platforms - they couldn’t afford the growing cost of running a business with a mountain of technical debt.
"Sylius is designed for tailored eCommerce solutions, which means that it fits perfectly to the unusual and custom needs."
Our plugin system is really flexible and we already have some exciting integrations and enhancements to the base platform. As we are just starting with our first stable release, there is plenty of payment gateways, shipping carriers and extra features to develop. But we know our community will deliver great quality as always.
To what extent is a partnership with you worthwhile? What advantages can we offer our clients as an agency? Is there a special support package?
Pawel: We have always been a community-driven project and we want to continue to do that with our business ecosystem. More and more agencies implement Sylius for their customers and our goal is to support them with consulting & training services. But it is so much more than just support. We want to create a thriving business ecosystem, in which we provide cutting-edge eCommerce software and constantly improve it based on the feedback from the integrators. We offer a cut of future paid products, joint marketing opportunities, events and direct access to the Core Team. The last one is exciting because we really want to define the future of the project with our partners. If you are an agency tired of legacy solutions, definitely get in touch to discuss how we can arrange a win-win partnership.
Symfony 4.0 & Sylius 1.0
Symfony 4.0 will be released in November 2017. When will Sylius retighten? Will this affect the Hackathon? Could the change be prepared?
Tim: We will start a process of retightening as soon as Symfony 4.0 is released. It shouldn’t take long. As you know, Sylius is fully based on Symfony framework and we have always been doing our best to keep our technology up-to-date with it. Hackathon will happen in the middle of October, and the new version of Symfony is set to happen in November. That being said, we will code using Symfony 3.0. But don’t worry - all plugins we will create during our meetup will be later easily upgradeable.
What did you think when the solutionDrive asked for support for a 2nd Hackathon in Germany exclusively for Sylius?
Pawel: We were simply astonished! Excited and grateful in the same time. We have never expected that Sylius can grow so fast. It would have never been gaining popularity in Germany if it wasn’t for companies like yours. What is more, it gave us an another clear sign that there’s a point in what we’ve been doing. It means a lot to see that your work is valuable, appreciated and desired for such great agencies.
What do you expect from the 2. Sylius Hackathon in Germany? Do you want to tackle any specific topics?
Tim: We expect a good combination of fruitful work and a lot of fun. Surely, we want to get to know you as a company and team behind it as we count on valuable partnership. There are many useful plugins worth developing. Last hackathon finished with a couple of usable libraries. We want to build more during this event as well. Of course, we can’t wait to see Nuremberg! The plan prepared for the Hackathon is really exciting - we are impatiently waiting to try what’s best from your culture and cuisine.
Who of you will be in Nuremberg?
Tim: To be honest, when we’ve seen your profoundly prepared offer, a 3-days Hackathon with a lot of activities planned… we decided to come as a whole Sylius Team. 8 people - starting with Paweł, Sylius Founder, with all Core Developers included, and me on the end ;).
"...we decided to come as a whole Sylius Team"
You will get to know: Łukasz and Mateusz, both have been with Sylius business from the very beginning. First one is now a Team Leader, also responsible for API development. The second one - an official Sylius Trainer and Consultant. Magda, the only girl in our team, is a soft skills mistress, managing projects, documentation and our Slack community. Kamil and Arek, a pair of probably the most crazy (but talented!) of our developers. Finally, Grzegorz, who has joined our office squad recently, but has been contributing to our framework for more than 2 years...Without any of them Sylius wouldn’t be so good as it is now.
What are your nearest future plans?
Tim: Sylius is becoming more and more recognizable figure on the market of eCommerce technology. Stable version of the framework is set to be live in the middle of September. Meanwhile, our Team will be working hard on commercial products development. Also, Sylius is seeking investment. With a stable version and expanded community, we hope to announce a first big funding by the end of the year. We have many more specific plans, which we can’t let out yet ;)
Here you find more Information about the Hackathon in Nuremberg: Xing-Event
The Interview was conducted by: Selma Illig & Constanze Stohn