Akeneo 1.4 – Update checker and usage statistics

Akeneo 1.4 has been released a few days ago. This post is the first of a series exploring some of the new features of this version.

Let’s start with a small but important one : the update checker.

As you might know, we have a current release cycle of two new minor versions (Akeneo 1.x) per year. Akeneo 1.3 has been released in March 2015, Akeneo 1.4 in September 2015 and you can expect a 1.5 version in February 2016. Each minor version comes with a bunch of improvements and new features. We believe that it’s currently a good rhythm to improve our product without requiring too frequent upgrade work for our community.

But – if waiting for 6 months for a new feature sounds reasonable – it’s far too long when it’s about getting some important bug fixes. That’s why we are also releasing more frequently some patch versions (Akeneo 1.4.x). As we are trying to never introduce any backward compatibility breaks on those versions, the upgrade process is really straight forward  – even on already live installations. But it can still be difficult to know when a new patch is available. That’s why we added an update checker allowing you to be notified directly from the Akeneo dashboard when a new upgrade is available! Technically speaking this means that your Akeneo installation is now sending a request to one of our server to check if new updates are available.

This update checker also allows us to collect some anonymous usage statistics. As we want to be fully transparent on this topic, here is a few more details about what this checker is actually doing.

What data are we collecting :

Actually we are collecting only a few stats about your installation :

  • Current edition (CE or EE) & version used (which is useful if we want to tell you if you are up to date!)
  • Number of products in your catalog
  • Number of attributes, families, channels and locales
  • Number of users
  • Storage used (MySQL or MongoDB)
  • OS and browser

We are not (and will never be) collecting any product information stored in your Akeneo installation!

Why do we need this data :

As an open source and on premise software it’s very difficult for us to get some insights about how people are really using Akeneo PIM. To be able to continue to improve the product and to prioritize our new features stream, we need to get a clearer view on what is a standard use case for Akeneo. For instance, getting more details about the average number of products per installation can be really helpful to define what exactly is a large catalog (10K products? 100K? 1M …) for our users and to adapt our roadmap and tests accordingly.

Those statistics are – of course – for internal purpose ONLY.

Can I deactivate this update checker ? :

YES – If you don’t need to be notified for new updates or if you don’t want to send those usage statistics to Akeneo, you can simply go to System > Configuration and uncheck the “New versions notification” option into the “Notifications” section.

We hope you will enjoy this new feature and will be pleased to answer any question you have about this update checker in the comments section! And if you want to learn more about Akeneo 1.4, don’t forget to register to our webinar on October 21st!

Inside Akeneo #3 – Connectors

As you already know, Akeneo combines channels & completeness to ensure the quantity and quality of product information.

Consolidating data in Akeneo is an important step, but how to export it to other systems ?

To answer this core question, Akeneo is introducing the Connectors Framework.

Connectors are external modules designed to interact with third party systems like your e-commerce website, your mobile app, your ERP …. Purpose of a connector is  to :

  • transform  incoming data into an understandable format for our API – for an import connector
  • transform  outgoing data from our API to the desired format – for an export connector

Once done, thanks to our framework, your connector will have access to our integrated services such as the scheduler, fields mapping, configuration screens, scope selection, …

For example, you can implement a connector to import data (products, categories, attributes) from different sources (as an ERP or CSV files) into Akeneo, and you can either implement another connector to export your product information from Akeneo to your favorite e-commerce app (Shopify, Magento, Drupal Commerce, RBS Change, …).

upload-import-now-small

We will provide with our beta a CSV connector (probably the most commonly used file format for product information management) both for import and export. As we  believe that a PIM has no sense without connectors we will create more in coming months (Magento and Excel are already planned).

But we also want to provide our community all the required tools to create some great connectors with any third party system systems. A full documentation will be available for the beta release and we are already working on a markeplace to enable our contributors to share their work with the rest of the world.

Inside Akeneo #2 – Data quality & completeness

We talked in our previous post about the relation between channels and scoped attributes in Akeneo.

Another important channel-related mantra to keep in mind for our future users is : “There is no mandatory attribute in Akeneo“. It means that an user will never be prevented to create or save a product because he only has a small part of the required data for your product.

In Akeneo we are making a clear distinction between “working with products” and “exporting products“. PIM is all about product lifecycle – so we believe that it’s perfectly OK to work with incomplete products. But not to export incomplete products.

So we need to define what is a complete product. This definition can vary :

  • from a family to another : a TV will not require the same kind of data than a book or a shirt
  • from a locale to another : you can have a complete product for your english catalog but still in a translation process for your german one
  • from a channel to another : maybe your iPad application doesn’t need the same amount of data than your e-commerce website

In Akeneo, through a very simple screen, you will be able to define very precisely what are the required attributes to consider a product as complete :

Once those requirements defined, you will be able to have some real metrics on your data quality. You will be able to filter products per completeness level or see directly from your product page the completeness of your item