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Opencart V3 v Opencart V4 - Which one is best?

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Opencart V3 v Opencart V4 Unravelled

Choosing between OpenCart 3 and OpenCart 4 for your online store depends on your specific requirements. We have worked extensively with Opencart 1 , Opencart 2 and Opencart 3 and have been involved in some core fixes for Opencart 4 and are also developing on that platform.

OpenCart 3 is a very solid and dependable platform that has been used by many businesses and has proven its effectiveness in recent years. However, OpenCart 4 theoretically represents a useful upgrade that offers important improvements in security, performance, and usability.


For online store owners, the decision between OpenCart 3 and OpenCart 4 can have a big impact on the success of their business. Migrating to a newer version can mean a significant improvement in user experience, product management efficiency, and customer data security. Although there is a cost and learning time associated with migration, many businesses may want the latest version for a new site.

In this article, we have compared the available versions: Opencart 3 and Opencart 4, and will list what their main differences and advantages are.

Opencart V3

What is Opencart 3?

Opencart 3 is the previous main branch version of Opencart, released in June 2017. It is a very stable and mature version and is supported by a broad community of developers and users. Some of Opencart V3’s outstanding features are:

It has an intuitive and easy-to-use administration panel, with options to customize design,customers,orders,categories, products, extensions and more.
Multilingual and multi-currency system that facilitates the internationalisation of the online store.
It has an analysis section that allows you to measure the performance and behavior of the online store.
It has a wide variety of available extensions (more than 13,000) that expand the possibilities and capabilities of the software.
The integrated Opencart marketing system allows you to create coupons, rewards, discounts and other promotions to attract and retain customers.

What is Opencart 4?

Opencart 4 is the latest version of Opencart, released May 2022. It is a renewed and “improved” version that incorporates new features and technologies to offer a more modern and efficient experience for webmasters and customers.

What does this version 4 of Opencart have then?

A redesigned and optimized administration panel for mobile devices (responsive), with options to manage design (with Twig templates), products (with custom attributes), orders (with custom states), customers (with custom groups), extensions (with automatic installer), OC update engine (like wordpress) and more.
Improved SEO integrated system that helps improve organic positioning in search engines (with friendly URLs, dynamic meta tags, XML sitemap, automatic redirects, and more).
It has an improved multilingual system that allows you to translate all website content from the administration panel (without .php files).
It has an improved modular system that allows you to create or modify functionalities without affecting the source code of the software (with events).

Improved marketing section that allows you to create email marketing campaigns, affiliate programs, social media ads and other methods to attract and retain customers.

What are the advantages of Opencart 4 over Opencart 3?

The advantages of Opencart 4 over Opencart 3 are debatable in our experience at this time. It does have some on paper being:

Loading speed:

It is faster and lighter than Opencart 3, which improves the loading speed and performance of the online store. This is because it uses PHP 8.1 or higher, which is more efficient and secure than PHP 7.1 or lower. Additionally, it has an improved cache system that reduces the number of queries to the database.
In reality OC3 can be made very fast using a caching extension like Lightening so in reality this is a non issue.


Opencart 4 uses HTTPS by default, which encrypts the communication between the server and the browser. Additionally, OC4 has an improved backup system that allows restoring the online store in case of problems.

Again, in reality this is not a gamechanger, OC3 happily uses https and we have found that the Opencart inbuilt backup system is redundant once a store gets above a large size.


To sell in the EU a store has to have GDPR options like cookie notices and data deletion options for customers. It also has to serve the information stored on the customer when they request it.
Opencart 4 has an inbuilt GDPR module which is useful, however we traditionally have used a comprehensive module on Opencart 3 sites.


It facilitates integration with other services and platforms. This is because it uses a RESTful API architecture, which is a communication standard between systems. Additionally, Opencart 4 has an automatic update system, which allows installing the latest versions of the software without losing data or configurations.


Opencart Version 4 utilizes namespacing for controller definition and relies on Ajax for handling all requests. Also, Opencart has removed “ocmod,” so any modifications or changes must be made using the “event” system.

Update Engine:

Opencart 4 has a new update engine built in (we do not advise usage of). This is more like Wordpress in that it allows webmasters to update the Opencart minor versions on their own. This likely will not work on sites that have been customised or are very big; however we are testing the function in our test lab and will write a guide on how to upgrade Opencart 4 versions yourself if you choose to. One caveat; this could well break your site and any non OC core extensions, so a site and database should always be backed up before pressing any big red buttons!

Opencart 4

Opencart Sites built by Industry Leaders

SEO Leaders Opencart Developers have over 10 years full time Opencart experience!

Because we are a leading SEO and Ecommerce agency, we combine both of these skill sets in every Opencart project to ensure you get maximum value from your new website. It will be built to meet all Google best practices and ‘ready to rank’ well in Google. We can also offer powerful SEO packages to compliment your new or existing Opencart website. More visitors = more sales!

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.

Opencart 4 Platform

An overview of the Opencart 4 platform

Opencart 3 Platform

Opencart 3 Platform Overview

OpenCart 2.3.x

An overview of the Opencart 2.3x platform

Opencart 2.2x

An overview of the Opencart 2.2x platform

Opencart 2.1x

An overview of the Opencart 2.1x platform

Opencart 1.5.6x

An overview of the Opencart 1.5.6x platform

Contact Us to discuss your Opencart website or Opencart requirements

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