Shutting Front-Commerce Lite down

We are shutting down Front-Commerce Lite, our open-source prototyping starter kit for React eCommerce storefronts created back in 2018.

The reason is simple: we feel that in 2020 developers are now more aware about PWA storefronts, React for SPA and headless commerce. We think that they could grasp the benefits of Front-Commerce by reading its documentation, and experiment/prototype directly with Front-Commerce itself.

If you want to build a PoC and create usable, durable storefronts that increase sales we’ve got you covered with Front-Commerce. We have everything ready to onboard new partners and build a PoC within days!

What was Front-Commerce Lite?

Front-Commerce Lite (a.k.a “FCL”) was a minimalist React/GraphQL eCommerce application (Home page, product page and Cart). It allowed developers to start experimenting with the code within minutes.

It demonstrated how a single React application could leverage GraphQL schema and work no matter the headless eCommerce platform behind it. With examples and prototypes built for Magento 2, Moltin, OroCommerce and several others we could illustrate how GraphQL as a unified storefront API made sense way before it became adopted by other solutions.

The React / GraphQL ecosystem (and tooling around it) drastically evolved since we first created FCL, and it is now possible to recreate the same starter kit with Create React App and Apollo Server.

Why was it created?

In 2017, when we explained Front-Commerce to developers, we often had to explain why having a clear separation of concerns between the frontend application and the server was a way to increase a team’s efficiency.

At that time, for many developers used to traditional monolithic eCommerce platforms, React was just “one of this new Javascript library that frontend developers were excited about” and GraphQL “a new way to do REST”. The complexity of understanding the Javascript ecosystem from a PHP/HTML developer was not worth it for them.

We felt it was sad! Sad to miss one of the biggest technical change in our industry: headless commerce. Sad to miss the best way to build delightful eCommerce experience: a user-centric Single Page Progressive Web Application. Sad to miss one of the best way to keep a team motivated: use modern technologies with a better developer experience. And finally, sad to miss the business opportunity to work on bigger and more interesting projects!

Front-Commerce was already providing a way to solve all of these problems, and we knew it because the first shops were about to go in production!

In 2018, we decided to create this starter kit so we could explain it and tell developers to experiment by themselves! Marketing blog posts praising this new industry shift, and use-cases from the biggest companies was nothing for a developer compared to changing a few lines of code and seeing the UI updates seamlessly.

It brought value to many teams!

In 2018 and early 2019, we’ve paired with many developers at events to show them the way, we are sure that many teams are now convinced that headless commerce and PWA are the direction to follow. Some teams even chose to use Front-Commerce in their first PWA/headless projects, could win deals against bigger agencies and deliver the project on-time!

Front-Commerce Lite has also been used to quickly build prototypes to illustrate the promise of such a stack to merchants who wanted to increase sales on mobile.

It was even useful for ourselves: we could experiment with new ideas and explore API of headless platforms quickly, to demonstrate it could be supported by Front-Commerce. This is for instance how we could then decide to build a Magento 1 GraphQL integration and several headless CMS integrations (Prismic, Wordpress) for Magento (and future platforms too).

But Front-Commerce Lite was not Front-Commerce

For the past few years, we brought a lot of improvements to Front-Commerce itself that could not be easily integrated in Front-Commerce Lite without open-sourcing them.

Everything that makes Front-Commerce the best eCommerce storefront solution for production use to date was still difficult for developers to understand. Some of them even made the mistake to benchmark Front-Commerce Lite with other solutions… to finally decide that Front-Commerce (not FCL!) was not relevant for their use case as it was a mere glue between existing libraries.

By shutting down Front-Commerce Lite, we want to prevent this lack of understanding and make it clear that in 2020, Front-Commerce is still the best solution out there for building an eCommerce Storefront PWA! We encourage developers to browse Front-Commerce’s documentation and see everything that Front-Commerce brings to the table.

For those who even started to experiment by themselves with eCommerce PWA, we are sure that they will see the benefits. Here are a few examples:

These are just a few examples! We are continuously improving our documentation so power users could be autonomous and craft the best storefront possible, given their own context.

Oh, and we also have many online demonstration instances and shops in production if you want to reassure SEO experts that Front-Commerce could actually improve SEO.

What’s next?

With Front-Commerce Lite being shut down, we also want to provide a way for teams to have a chance to understand what Front-Commerce could bring to them as a team!

In 2018, we thought it was important for developers and teams to understand where the eCommerce market was going. In 2020, we want to make teams understand that this shift is not only a technological one.

Front-Commerce will remains the best solution to build an eCommerce PWA: fully supporting advanced features, stable and of course the fastest!

But please, make sure you don’t restrict Front-Commerce to the technology behind it. It is much more! We chose to build a product that will help you to take advantage of this new way to do eCommerce. We want merchants to have a best of breed approach and leverage the best domain services out there. For this, we know how important it is to work with teams that could design consistent services interactions and create User Experiences that leverage these technical advantages.

Building a team that could perform well in UX, UI, architecture, frontend development and knowing the different backend platforms very well is a tough task. Front-Commerce helps you by providing guidance, pre-sales help, a community of partners you could collaborate with and a consistent technical product that will remain up-to-date… so your team could focus on bringing value!

Conclusion

Front-Commerce Lite is shutting down, we encourage you to read Front-Commerce documentation to see how mature the solution is and do not hesitate to get in touch to ask questions!

You could join our Slack workspace to ask questions, or send us an email to schedule a call!

We could help you with pre-sales, and assist your technical team to build their first prototype with Front-Commerce to win projects!

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