Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Magento Developers Provide Integration with Drupal for Online Business & Content

There is a CMS module in Magento core. The module in Magento Enterprise 1.6 even offers cool features. Why then would you want to integrate with Drupal instead?

Content is free advertisement for products. It allows customers to get more input about products and provides the meat for search engines to index.

You can integrate Drupal and Magento in many ways. Let Magento be the main component, leaving Drupal just as a subcomponent; let Drupal be the main component, and Magento as an e-commerce module; or let both be the main components.

Magento as the Main Component

The straightforward solution is to integrate on the service layer. Whenever you are on the e-shop product page, you call a Drupal service to bring related content, say, blog posts. It is so also with category pages.

There are some challenges, though. Whenever you add a CCK field or a feature like rating to a content type, you need to modify the layout and write templates for data coming in from Drupal.

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A more complex path to take is to integrate the Drupal rendering engine into Magento: a tightly coupled architecture. It may make sense when using many Drupal features.

Adapted from ‘Magento and Drupal Integration’ (Evaldas Taroza, Nov. 11, 2009).

There is already a CMS module for Magento as part of the core. And the question is why would one want to struggle integrating Drupal instead of using that CMS module? Moreover, with enterprise 1.6 version of Magento the module offers quite cool features. Here are some things to consider. Drupal has a solid community. There is the CCK module to quickly add additional fields to a content type and make it available to the content producing team. Content versioning, workflow and so on, is easy in Drupal.

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Drupal as the Main Component

The implementation is based on synchronizing Magento products, categories, orders and so on into Drupal.

Although Drupal-as-the-main-component approach may give flexibility, it may be complex to implement. Magento frontend functionality needs to be rewritten for Drupal. Magento would then only be an e-commerce backend accessible via Web services. You would be able to use Drupal modules and flexible templates, achieve much better performance and so on.

Bringing in a part of Magento into Drupal makes sense (say in a module that synchronizes products and orders into Drupal). In this case, it is a decision to make whether the site is more about content or about commerce.

Both Magento and Drupal as the main Components

This is reasonable when the content will be displayed on the Drupal site and e-shop on the Magento site. If a product has a blog post attached, you’ll have a link on the product page, clicking which open a Drupal page with the blog post.

A challenge here is to maintain two different themes so as not to harm user experience. When the customer clicks on the blog link inside the product page, the blog is displayed with the same look and feel as the shop. Another challenge would be the ability to mix content with product information on the same page.

It may make sense, however, to take this path when there are only some of the things to be shared between both components, say, users, and everything else is completely separate, say, when a company has an e-commerce site, a customer community site, and a corporate site.


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