What's in Magento 2.4.5?
Anyone who's involved in the Magento community at any level will probably have seen something about the Adobe conference that hapenned back in February of this year. I attended the conference (virtually) and wrote a blog post a few days later with my thoughts around what was said. Once thing that was very clear was that we were going to see significant change with Magento, and a clear separation between what Adobe now refers to as Magento Open Source, and Adobe Commerce - rebranded from Magento Commerce. 2.4.5 is only the second release since the conference, and while we saw some separation between Open Source and Commerce in 2.4.4, 2.4.5 is now starting to show more marked differences between paid and free versions.
In February, Adobe announced that no new features would be added to the codebase as it stands, with all new functionality being delivered as SaaS add-ons to the current codebase. Also, these new features would only be available to Commerce, with no plans to add anything new to Open Source edition, although we should see new functionality coming from the Magento Association given time.
What's in Open Source edition?
Version 2.4.5 starts to deliver on the promises Adobe made in February with all new functionality being restricted just to Commerce edition. Open Source only sees compatibility upgrades for new versions of software packages Magento depends on, along with the usual host of security and bug fixes.
So there's nothing really out of the ordinary here, or of particular note but actually, for the time being at least many people might not actually mind. Depending on the complexity and level of customisation of a store, having regular version upgrades to install and test can feel like a bit of a grind. It's not hard to understand that the less change you introduce in a store upgrade, the lower the chance of that upgrade introducing problems that need to be found and fixed. But when an upgrade also brings with it new security fixes it's always good to keep on top of, you can't help but feel the need to upgrade, but perhaps a little reluctantly in case any issues are introduced.
So until the Magento Association starts to get their own STS releases where we'll see new functionality, Open Source store owners will continue to get releases with a similarly minimal amount of change.
What's in Commerce edition?
As usual we see the same changes in the Commerce release as we do in Open Source, plus a number of changes specific just to Commerce. Here we're starting to see more new features added in the form of SaaS services, as already promised by Adobe, plus the addition of the Upgrade Compatibility Tool.
Adobe Sign is new functionality to Commerce, and so is delivered as a SaaS add-on. In my January blog post on the future of Open Source, before the Adobe conference in February, I speculated that we would probably see Commerce edition move to a subscription-based product to bring it in line with their existing software offerings.
Commerce edition will likely evolve into another probably subscription-based Adobe product, and Open Source edition will continue much as it is now. - Jon Hussey
We may be seeing the start of this already with Adobe Sign being a subscription service, and so it now seems there will be an ongoing subscription cost attached to having a Commerce edition store.
Branding and style changes
Adobe has already gone all in with the adoption of Commerce edition, but the 2.4.5 release cements this with what sounds like a significant restyling of the admin area to match the Adobe brand and look. The changelog says that these changes affect headers, footers, data grid colour updates, and navigation. So while it's not completely clear what these changes will include, it seems possible it might even change the layout of menu's and how you actually navigate the backend.
Live Search has actually been available in a pre-release Commerce version for a while now, and has already been listed in the releases notes for 2.4.4. It's another SaaS add-on, and while it isn't clear if there is going to be an ongoing cost associated with it, I would honestly be surprised if there wasn't, but it might just be a bit more hidden, and tied up with Commerce licensing costs.
Upgrade Compatibility Tool
The Upgrade Compatibility Tool is a tool you can run from the command line which attempts to flag potential upgrade issues between your current store version, and the version you want to upgrade to. It does this based on customisations to your store, and sounds like it could be useful if it's actually effective, but may become less useful over time as Adobe push more store owners to use SaaS functionality, dropping much of the complexity of the current codebase.
So there's nothing groundbreaking here, but a few noteable changes which confirm the direction Adobe are taking Commerce, and we can expect an ever increasing number of SaaS services being added over time. Open Source store owners continue to receive bug and security fixes, and perhaps an easier ride in terms of store upgrades due to Adobe making Open Source updates as light as possible.
If you're looking for a developer to do your stores 2.4.5 upgrade, then we list plenty of high quality Commerce and Open Source Magento developers here at Developer Connection. Connecting with 5 qualified, relevant and available developers is completely free, you just need to spend a few minutes creating a project. It's that easy!