Akeneo introduced a new version of its Open Source PIM system into the market in September 2017: Akeneo PIM 2.0! We tested Akeneo 2.0 and provide an overview of innovations, features and benefits.
High-quality product data is a critical factor for retailers. It’s clear: Absolutely accurate product descriptions, images of product variants and exact technical data build trust with customers and increase sales figures. PIM systems help retailers to handle product data and serve as a central platform, which they can use to efficiently manage and optimize their entire product data collection. PIM systems ease typical pain points such as import, redundancy, topicality, quality and product data distribution.
Akeneo is the successful provider of the Open Source PIM system Akeneo PIM. With the new version Akeneo PIM 2.0, Akeneo takes the next step in product development. The chief aim of the new version was clearly communicated: the system needed to make the daily work simpler and more comfortable for end users.
You will only need a few commands, documented on GitHub, to install the Community Edition. If these first steps are successful, you will be directed to docs.akeneo.com to complete the final steps of installation.
For quick, local testing, Akeneo provides a Docker Container on GitHub that enables the user carry out the installation with a single command. However, if you initially require an overview of the software, an Akeneo 2.0 Demo is available, which gives you the opportunity to take the first steps without having to install the program.
After logging in, the first thing you willl notice is the completely redesigned interface: The main navigation has been moved to the left edge of the screen. The dashboard shows the status of the completeness of all existing channels and languages. The completeness describes the completeness of the product data.
In addition, an overview of recent actions is listed. This is especially useful for exports, as it also shows the status of the action and allows the user to view more details.
Overall, the new design looks very clean and tidy. The user always has an optimal overview of all available functions.
Editing products with variants has been repeatedly criticized by users of older versions of Akeneo. For this reason, this section has been completely revised, from data import to product search and -display to data enrichment and export of data.
Unfortunately, the simplified functionality for creating product variants has not yet made it into the current version and will be delivered within the next few weeks. For this reason, we could not yet take a look at the changes here to make a detailed evaluation. Of course, product variants can still be created in the accustomed way via the imports already available.
The product detail view has also undergone a considerable overhaul: the second navigation level is used in this area to navigate within the product. Here, you can switch between the attributes, the categories, the links, the completeness, the comments and the history of the product. The lower part of the second navigation level is used to display product information, e.g. the product family, the status, the creation date, and the most recent update.
By default, the attributes display all attribute families, which can be a considerable number. For simplicity, however, you can limit these with a dropdown, located above the product. In addition, there is a filter that restricts the display to missing and required attributes, which also makes working with product data much easier.
The product lists of Akeneo 2.0 also make a very tidy impression. Again, shifting the menu to the left side is very beneficial. In addition, the status of the completeness is displayed on every product. Both the list and the sorting load very fast, which enables a much better workflow.
The filters have alsobeen moved to the left area and form a second navigation level, along with the channel, the locale and the category tree. You can easily add new filters using the “+” button and delete them using the Delete button next to an activated filter.
The functionality of the product lists is almost identical to the previous version. Only the direct display of a specially defined image directly in the list is immediately obvious. Thus, veteran users are instantly familiar with the usage and can be productive immediately without much initial training. As in the old version, columns can be freely configured. The columns to be displayed in the selection screen also provide a search function for the convenient selection of available columns.
The newest version of Akeneo officially supports PHP 7.1. In addition, the migration to Symfony 3.3 was completed. MongoDB was completely removed a product storage option. A new feature is the native search based on ElasticSearch.
Akeneo 2.0 delivers a whole new set of API endpoints. These had already been completely overhauled for the 1.7 version, but have been significantly increased in the current 2.0 version. The APIs have their own website, which can be found at api.akeneo.com.
Technically, it should be emphasized that integrators are supported here in the development of new connections with complete specifications in the Swagger format. In addition, a complete Postman Collection is provided, with which you can test all API endpoints and analyze them in detail.
Furthermore, Akeneo provides a PHP client, which can be a good place to start implementing the connections. The abundance of available endpoints suggests that, in the future, all connections will be made via API endpoints and we can say goodbye to the exchange of CSV files and the like in the long term.
As recently as version 1.7, an installation could have the following configurations:
In Akeneo PIM 2.0, the product data is stored centrally in ElasticSearch, which results in a tremendous speed advantage. As usual, all other entities are held l in a MySQL database. This simplifies the set-up for an installation and requires the customer to make far fewer decisions in advance.
There are three different edtions of Akeneo PIM available: Community, Enterprise and Cloud. There are two different modes for the Cloud Edition:
The Flexibility Mode requires users to manually execute their update process based on their individual requirements. Users of the Serenity Mode, on the other hand, benefit from automatic upgrades, but are significantly limited in their own development efforts.
To upgrade Akeneo from 1.7 to the current release, the migration tool Transporteo was created. Currently, there is still the hint that the tool is not in a stable state and therefore it is advised not to update PIM systems in productive use. One can assume that a lot will happen here during the next few days and weeks.
There are some requirements for using Transporteo, which are also described on the page. After the setup of the tool, the migration can be performed with only one command, which greatly simplifies the process.
Customers can now benefit even more often from new features or updates. Akeneo has announced a brand new release cycle with the new release. In the future, a new major version will be released in the fall of each year. In addition, smaller quarterly releases are planned for December, March and June. This allows Akeneo to react more flexibly to innovations within the market and to the wishes and needs of customers and partners. In this way, we, as a partner, can better plan in advance when to carry out which updates.
The maintenance cycles for the Standard Support versions, which are scheduled for December (minor) and March (minor), are set for three months. The long-term support versions (LTS) for June (minor) and September (major) are supported for 18 months. Patches limited to bugfixes are released by Akeneo on a weekly basis for all current and LTS releases. Here, you can find a Release und Support Timeline until 2022.
Akeneo 2.0 seems much faster, easier and more flexible with a cleaned up interface. The new version makes daily work easier and more comfortable. We look forward to working with the new system and taking advantage of the new features. Especially the new APIs look very interesting and promising.
Due to the fact that the current version still has some missing features and some tools are still not 100% mature, you should still consider using them in production environments. It is certainly advisable to wait for some fine-tuning and see what happens after initial implementation. At the end of the year, we are planning another Akeneo 2.0 review and and update for this article.
Despite these limitations, the development of Akeneo seems to be going in the right direction. We are very excited about how Akeneo PIM 2.0 will evolve in the coming weeks and months.