Opencart V3 v Opencart V4 - Which one is best?
Opencart V3 v Opencart V4 Unravelled
Summary of Opencart 4 changes:
- Has a tweaked User Interface and Design
- Has some Performance Enhancements
- Security Enhancements
- Improved SEO Features (out of the box)
- Upgraded Technology Stack and compatibility with PHP 8.3x
- Ocmod cannot be used in Opencart 4. Opencart 4 is now events based.
- The layout has changed as Opencart 4 runs on bootstrap 5 framework.
- Version 5 Font Awesome font library
- Directory structure has changed – this involves the structure of the folders used to store modules: Each extension (or developer) now has it’s own directory inside the new root directory /extension/, which now contains all of the add-on files. The intermediate extension folder has also been removed. As a result, the path to the module’s front-end controller is now: /extension/seosuite/catalog/controller/module/newseomodule.php. And this will be the path to the module template: /extension/seosuite/catalog/view/template/module/newseomodule.twig
- The product block that was previously in the templates list is now moved to product/thumb.twig. To modify the button or add stickers to the product, you don’t have to edit all of the templates anymore!
- Tools for GDPR regulation compliance
- OC 4 has a one step checkout as default (finally!)/ But we always use our one step extension or Journal3 one step checkout.
- The common/pagination.twig template now contains pagination.
- The potential to create multiple versions of a single product
- The CRON Task Scheduler
- Version 8.1+ of PHP is now the minimum requirement to run this (8.1 is not supported by PHP now).
- Added jQuery 3.6.0, a new version of the library which is PCIDSS compliant.
Downsides to Opencart 4
Opencart 4 looks visually very similar indeed, the only noticeable difference in the admin side is it has ajax buttons instead of checkboxes! Also, it is not even recommended by other core developers to use Opencart 4 just yet, because it does not have many modules available from extension developers available for it. Opencart 3 and prior have a massive array of extensions that cover all requirements for pretty much any site, but Opencart 4 has not had much takeup from the developer market and as such, for stores wishing to upgrade from OC3 , if they run a lot of extensions, most of these may not be available compatible for Opencart 4.
Your next question, cant you just ‘upgrade’ the extensions to work with Opencart 4. The answer to this varies, not always is the best one. Opencart 4 uses a very different database structure (plenty of tables remain) and file structure and some extensions will need developing from scratch to work with Opencart 4. Clearly then importing data from OC3 stores that are heavily custom into OC4 store structure can be very complex.
If it was that easy then a lot of the big extension providers would have added Opencart 4 support for their extensions! You can be pretty sure that if an extension that is popular and in use for OC 2 and 3 is not available for OC4, then it is a big job to upgrade (or rewrite it) .
What PHP version for Opencart? This is the crux reason for many people wanting to upgrade as Opencart 3.xx previously only supports up to PHP 8 which was deprecated and EOL late in 2023 (november). Fortunately the Opencart Open source community in conjunction with Daniel, Opencarts initial creator decided that V3 should live on and as a result an upgrade to v3.9.xx brings the big bonus of PHP 8.3+ compatibility.
For Opencart developers like us this is great news and we have been pushing the V3 line for a long time as it is very stable, very well supported and a brilliant platform. As a result Opencart v3 will be supported probably indefinately and that is why its our go to choice. Along with the fact that there is a MUCH bigger marketplace of modules available for it.
How should you choose between Opencart 3 and Opencart 4?
Although Opencart 4 has many advantages over Opencart 3, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best option for all use cases. And it is true that both versions have their benefits depending on your current website and needs.
OpenCart 4 offers significant improvements in performance, user interface, product management, security and mobile device compatibility (out of the box). However, the choice between OpenCart 3 and OpenCart 4 will depend on your specific needs and preferences. If you’re looking to start with a modern, reliable, and highly functional e-commerce platform, then OpenCart 4 might be the best choice for you.
Converesely, as mentioned the main issue levelled at the trusty Opencart 3 range was that it was only compatible with PHP 8.0. Since PHP 8.0 was EOL (end of life) since Novemeber 23 (ish). Now a new 3.9.x branch that has latest PHP compatibility means this is our go to option unless a client is set on Opencart 4.
Please note, if you have a site with a lot of custom modules (or many paid modules) then some will not be available for OC 4 and the custom modules will all need upgrading or new ones developing. To add to that the OC4 extension offering is almost non existant compared to V3 extensions and we would always recommend upgrading to V3.9.x as things stand.
Note, 3.9.x is not a one click upgrade and will break things on most sites but they can be fixed.
One final thing to note, we are experts with Journal 3 (and 1 and 2!) theme and this brings huge capabilities to Opencart 3; which negates a lot of the benefits of Opencart 4. Journal 3 theme is also available for Opencart 4 however if OC is your preference.