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November 18, 2021

Popular Java eCommerce Frameworks and CMS

Java Frameworks
Java Application Development

Content management systems (CMS) and eCommerce frameworks are an important components of a booming digital economy — and for good reason. Java eCommerce frameworks and CMS enable easier and faster development of customer facing applications and websites.

In this blog, we look at popular Java eCommerce frameworks and CMS, as well as the most popular eCommerce frameworks and CMS used in Java applications.

How eCommerce Frameworks Are Used in Java Applications

What your eCommerce framework can add to your application depends mainly on your choice of framework. This makes choosing the right eCommerce framework crucial to an optimal development process. Even though each eCommerce site’s needs are unique, there is some overlap with most eCommerce tools out there that will at least cover the basics. From there, the choice is guided by your digital maturity and the level of customization that your site requires.

Most eCommerce frameworks have customizable pre-built modules that cover most of the common requirements that a commerce site has. On the customer facing side, these pre-built modules can be added one by one as singular functionalities to a pre-existing site like the shopping cart or search function. Or, they can also make up the entire site, being composed by a simple drag-and-drop building method. On the administrative side, eCommerce frameworks can add a wide range of functionalities to your eCommerce enterprise — from marketing, to accounting, to warehousing, and beyond.

In addition to pre-built modules, eCommerce frameworks also enable you to add your own code to either customize a pre-built component or create one completely from scratch. This gives you the flexibility to fit the application to your exact needs.

There are many popular eCommerce frameworks used in Java, all with a variety of benefits to suit specific use cases. They range from expensive and expansive, like Hybris / SAP Customer Experience, to lightweight and open source, like the Shopizer framework.

While this list is far from comprehensive, we tried to collect a good assortment of the most popular eCommerce frameworks being used today.

Hybris / SAP Customer Experience

Hybris has become an increasingly popular eCommerce framework offering solutions that support B2B, B2C and B2B2C enterprises, some of which include Nestle, General Electric, Epson US, Levi Strauss, Taco Bell and Nike. It is on the rather expensive side of eCommerce frameworks, but when used to its full potential is most definitely worth the price.

The eCommerce framework offers two major groups of products: commerce solutions and marketing tools. Designed to improve your communication with customers, the Hybris omnichannel commerce solution offers a meaningful and consistent experience across all available channels. As for marketing solutions, Hybris offers a highly agile and scalable tool providing superior customer insight.

Hybris is „multi-everything“, offering multi-language, multi-vendor, and multichannel opportunities which are vital in today’s digital world with the multitude of sales and communication channels. Having a large number of highly configurable components has made the Java eCommerce platform ideal for using out-of-the-box or creating a customised solution for the customers’ needs and its high modularity has resulted in low co-dependency between the modules, making Hybris flexible and easy to use for users throughout the organization.

One of the main downsides of Hybris is its high server startup time, taking around 20-30 minutes each time. With JRebel all your changes can be reloaded without having to restart the server, saving developers an average of 336 hours or 42 workdays worth of development time every year.

Broadleaf

Another eCommerce tool to consider is Broadleaf, currently being used by MLB, O’Reilly Auto Parts, the European Postal Service and ICON Health & Fitness. Broadleaf is easily customized, ensuring that your specific needs are met. As for scalability, Broadleaf can easily grow with your ecommerce business.

Broadleaf is similar to Hybris in that Broadleaf also leverages modern open source technology like Java and Spring, the difference being that Broadleaf itself is also open source. Like Hybris, Broadleaf is also a “multi-everything“ tool,  supporting the usage of multiple websites, currencies, channels, languages, and tenants within one ecommerce system — and  all manageable from a single administrative console. While Hybris is best integrated with other SAP products, Broadleaf can be integrated with Wordpress, Drupal, and Zendesk, just to name a few.

Elastic Path

Just like Broadleaf, Elastic Path is also Java-based and open source. Elastic Path includes a wide variety of tools to use on your eCommerce site, such as merchandising, promotions, pricing, and order management to your clients. These functionalities can satisfy almost all requirements of  eCommerce enterprises. It provides a first-class eCommerce experience everywhere from simple mobile applications to the most complicated websites.

Elastic Path offers "Pre-Composed Solutions" for companies with medium digital maturity, and a Headless Commerce Platform for companies with a higher digital maturity who value the option of customization and have technically skilled people in-house who can use Elastic Path to its fullest potential. Even though Elastic Path offers a fairly out-of-the-box eCommerce solution, its real value lies in the its use alongside a complex modular, or microservices architecture approach.

Apache OFBiz

Similarly to the previous frameworks, Apache OFBiz is also Java-based and open source. Its solutions can be used either out-of-the-box or adapted to suit your exact needs.  Unlike Elastic Path, both OFBiz solutions are free and not divided up into different tools.

Apache OFBiz comes with a wide range of pre-built core modules, including accounting, CRM, warehousing, and manufacturing. On the business side of features, the eCommerce framework offers catalog management, promotion and pricing management, supply chain fulfillment, and everything necessary for successful payments. This makes it a good fit for any possible needs that a business application might require.

As for the downsides of Apache OFBiz, it has been noted by the users that it lacks project management options and scheduling features. But, with the endless possibilities to customize it, it’s no issue to create your own solutions for these.

Shopizer

Shopizer is 100% open source and 100% headless, built on modern and well known frameworks including Java and Angular. Being completely open source has made Shopizer easily adaptable to the demanding practices and changing trends of eCommerce.

Just as some of the previous eCommerce tools we mentioned previously, Shopizer also comes with a plethora of pre-built components and a variety of features including a built in shopping cart, inventory management, promotion management, content management, security, and order flow — all integrable from Shopizer's REST API

Navigating in the world of Java-based content management systems (CMS) is not the easiest task. New and exciting solutions are constantly popping up to help users manage the content on their websites and web applications. As mentioned with the frameworks above, these content management systems range in size, price, and extensibility.

Of course, this isn't a comprehensive list — rather it represents some of the most popular Java CMS in use today.

Magnolia

Magnolia is a fully headless open source CMS, allowing for a wide variety of add-ons and integrations that can help users customize everything to their exact needs. It is built on top of the best open source stack for Java developers and is optimized for leveraging the Java Content Repository, which opens up a whole host of additional options to elevate your application. Magnolia offers a vast amount of opportunities for content storage and management (in addition to APIs) for reusing content across different systems within the enterprise.

Magnolia has its downsides, however. The biggest downside is that it needs two separate applications to run. One is a behind-the-firewall author instance application for users to create content. The other a public-facing application that hosts and serves content, often run as multiple instances to maximize availability. This solution can result in some security issues occurring.

Magnolia is best suited for medium to large projects as it can be a bit too overwhelming for a small website with its extensive amount of options to use. It has a free, open source community version which is enough for production deployments and a commercial edition that requires a paid license.

Bloomreach / Hippo CMS

Like Magnolia, Bloomreach CMS (previously known as Hippo CMS) is also a fully headless CMS, allowing it to be easily integrable with all the biggest commerce tools (e.g. BigCommerce, SAP and Shopify). It’s highly modular, supporting a flexible approach to customizing your eCommerce site to be exactly what you need. Bloomreach is trusted and used by massive companies such as Bosch, NHS Digital and HellermannTyton.

Bloomreach's drag and drop builder has made it effortless to use no matter the technical experience, making it one of the most user friendly options available. Outstanding version control of the commerce pages allows you to track edits and restore previous versions to an unlimited extent. Bloomreach gives you the ability to start small with a few landing pages or to power your entire site or experience. The pricing of Bloomreach is also highly flexible, letting you grow your business at your own pace.

Alfresco

The modular architecture of Alfresco coupled with REST APIs and SDKs enables you to elevate your eCommerce experience, and provides you with a host of highly configurable, reusable components to create modern, responsive web and mobile end-user applications.

Alfresco also includes out-of-the-box support for leading productivity applications, including Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Microsoft Outlook, and Salesforce.com. The eCommerce tool can be extended with other Java-based frameworks for business process management (BPM) and information governance features.

The biggest strength that Alfresco offers is that it provides not just a CMS, but a broader information management framework for the enterprise. This gives Alfresco vital leverage over the other content management tools with companies in search of this exact feature. Organizations in need of a simple Java CMS, though, will probably find the complex BPM and information governance integrations to be overkill.

Most of Alfresco's advanced functionality requires a commercial license. While there is a free and open source version of the platform, it offers only a taste of the features of the commercial edition and isn't a practical open source Java CMS for many real-world deployments.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the perfect eCommerce framework to fit your needs is no easy feat. All the aforementioned frameworks each have their own advantages for Java developers, and there are plenty of frameworks and CMS that didn't make the list. Aligning those benefits with your needs will help make your choice a success.

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