Believe it or not, there are a lot of WordPress fans in the Magento community. While Magento provides supremely robust e-commerce capabilities with support for complex product variations and multiple shipping options, it’s entirely lacking in CMS features. As a result, many sites merge WordPress and Magento in order to take advantage of each platform’s unique strengths.
However, it is unbelievably difficult to make WordPress and Magento work together in a seamless fashion without some sort of bridge. That’s where James Kemp‘s Magento WordPress Integration plugin comes in. It does all the fancy footwork necessary to make your Magento store look like part of your WordPress site.
The Magento WordPress Integration plugin (MWI), is a solution that Kemp has been developing for several years. It provides the easiest way to get blocks, sessions and products from your Magento store and is capable of doing the following:
- Bring out any of the default Magento Blocks in your WordPress theme
- Bring out any Magento blocks that you have created yourself
- Bring out any static blocks that you have made in your Magento admin area
- Show Magento products on a WordPress post or page by using the shortcode add-on
- Show products from any category using the widget add-on
Think there’s no demand for this? Think again. Kemp’s plugin has been downloaded more than 10,000 times. To celebrate, Kemp has made the code available on BitBucket. He’s hoping that having the code available to the public will help to spark more contribution.
I’ve been following James Kemp’s work for several years and finally had the chance to chat with him about how the plugin is doing.
He continues to develop the plugin due to the demand, which comes from both “light” users and developers. “The demand for MWI is fairly consistent,” he said. “On a calm day the mwi-plugin site gets ~30 unique visits, and mid-week on a busier day it will get ~100. It’s a very niche plugin, so I don’t expect thousands! The core plugin is mainly useful for developers I’d say, but I also get “light” users who are interested in the add-ons, so they can display products within their blogs. The demand for it is fairly steady at the moment.”
The Magento and WordPress communities are fairly disconnected, which is understandable. You don’t see too many developers wanting to specialize in both platforms. Yet many users want them to work together. When building sites with a bridge, Kemp relies on WordPress for the more content-heavy aspects of the site:
Each system has solutions for the other, but none of them are quite as good as WordPress or Magento. I personally prefer to use WP for all aspects of content management; pages, news, callouts – using Magento for this is a bit of a nightmare. I use Magento for large stores, with complex product set-ups and discount systems, purely for the product catalogue and back-end ecommerce system.
Although he is an expert Magento developer, he has also built many sites using WooCommerce and Jigoshop. I asked him when he might opt for Magento over a WordPress-based e-commerce solution and he replied:
I tend to use Magento for larger sites, where there are thousands of products and likely to be a lot of activity. This is because of the back-end system of Magento; it offers so much more in terms of tax rules, discounts, product set-up, import/export, order history, invoicing, etc. it’s just a full, heavy-duty, ecommerce system. The WordPress solutions are great, but not for bigger ecommerce store owners who need more control.
The Magento WordPress Integration plugin provides a much needed bridge between the two open source projects and enables them to work together seamlessly. It can also save you from having to do too much theming to Magento, which is quite a pain because all the files are located about 10 directories deep. MWI allows you to feature your categories and products on your WordPress pages, as well as any blocks created within Magento. If you want to synchronize your sites even further, Kemp has also developed a plugin providing Single Sign-On For Magento And WordPress.
Kemp and his colleague Jay Pick have formed a new WordPress development company called Platførm, based out of their rural office in Lutterworth, England. He plans to continue supporting the MWI plugin for as long as it’s needed. You can find documentation at the Magento WordPress Integration homepage and can download the plugin from the WordPress repository. If you want to get involved contributing, check out MWI on BitBucket.