Magento is arguably the most powerful ecommerce development platform in the world. It is built on Zend PHP framework which helps you achieve online stores which are robust and scalable. A lot of Magento’s credit goes to Magento Extensions which help in adding functionality to your Magento powered ecommerce store. New Magento Extensions are being built by developers every day and there are close to 1800+ extensions available in the market. You need to make sure that you choose the right extensions and install them following standard procedure so that they seamlessly integrate with your online store.
Magento Extensions are easily available in the Magento Connect repository while some need to be directly downloaded from the developers’ websites. The hundreds of extensions can be broadly classified into three categories
1. Magento Core (Extension created by Magento team)
2. Community Extensions (Free extensions built by the Magento community)
3. Commercial Extensions (Paid Magento extensions)
Installing Magento Core Extensions
The most popular Magento Core Extensions are installed into the theme by default. With these extensions you can immediately get started with your online store. However it is not mandatory for you to have these extensions on your website and you can easily remove them.
Installing Magento Community Extensions
You can install the Magento Community Extensions using the Magento Connect Manager. Just follow the steps mentioned below and these extensions will be installed into your website.
1. Choose the community extensions from the hundreds of available ones. It would be wise to study their features before you install them onto your website. If you have zeroed in on a particular extension you can search it directly.
2. The next step involved getting the Extension Key. You will come across ‘Get Extension Key’ in Connect Manager. Agree to the extension license agreement in this step. You will get the Extension key; make sure you keep it safe as the key will be unique to your store.
3. Now you need to install this Extension Key into your online store. Login to your store’s admin panel and to System->Magento Connect->Magento Connect Manager. You will need to login in again as a part of the additional security measure. Paste the Extension Key.
4. Once you have pasted the key the installation process begins and the online store will authenticate the ‘Extension Key’. Once it is installed it will show you a message. You can also ‘refresh’ the live pages and see if the installation has taken place.
5. Some extensions require post installation configuration. For such extensions you need to carefully go through the documentation which comes along to correctly configure the website.
Installing Magento Commercial Extensions
These are extensions which are sold by different merchants. You can get a preview of these extensions in Commercial Magento Extensions and buy them directly from the merchant website. These extensions come to in the form of a zipped file which would contain the source code and other necessary documents. Their installation varies and you can know the installation technique from the documents which come along in the zipped folder. Go to the admin area > System > Cache Management, “Refresh” option in the “All cache” dropdown and click “Save cache settings” button. You can also seek help from the merchants who provide you with the tips to install these files into your Magento website.
Installation from Shell Using Command line PEAR
This is done in case your online store has high traffic and is prone to hacking attacks. Downloading Magento extensions via Magento connect using writable folders leaves your website vulnerable. In such cases you can install Magento extension using SSH Terminal. You should copy the Extension Key and login through your Magento SSH Terminal which installs the extension via the SSH Terminal.
It is important to keep in mind that some Magento extensions would require you to create some specific directories and place them accordingly. The documentation which accompanies these extensions usually carries these instructions.
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