X.commerce the future

X.commerce the future

We posted last year that ebay had aquired the Magento technology, what is now clear is why.

Magento will be at the heart of the next generaltion of ecommerce solutions "x.commerce"


Visit the x.commerce website for more info

What Is X.commerce?

X.commerce is an open commerce ecosystem that enables merchants, solution providers, and developers to create the next generation of commerce solutions. It brings together various commerce technologies and capabilities built by developers, solution providers and from the eBay Inc. family (eBay Marketplaces, PayPal Payments, Magento Storefronts, etc.) for merchants to utilize through one single platform, with the least possible effort.

What are we trying to solve?
How does it work?
What can you do?
Where to start?


What are we trying to solve?

Reach - Distribution – Integration – Technology Innovation

In today’s world, technology is completely transforming the relationship between consumers and merchants.  The evolution of technology and experience through smartphones, tablets, and social networks, has resulted in consumer shopping behavior that has spread well beyond the boundaries of the traditional store. This change has created the need for merchants to have a more comprehensive multi-channel support for their stores, in order to reach as many consumer touch points as possible at the right time. 

Unfortunately most commerce platforms and technologies today are silo’ed and require a tremendous amount of customizations with different platforms and service providers.

For developers, building the solutions for merchants and consumers is a painful process that requires integrating with each and every service and API, requiring custom code, terminology, and operational aspects. Establishing the relationships among data that is spread out across multiple services and technologies is tedious and expensive. 

On the other side, solution providers have to make a huge investment of time and resources to customize their solutions for every possible commerce platform and technology.  This not only limits their reach but also slows down innovation in the commerce ecosystem.

The goal of the X.commerce is to be the engine that will drive technology-powered commerce to the next level and beyond. The X.commerce ecosystem provides a single integration model for merchants and developers that is platform, technology and language agnostic. This will enable developers to integrate with single platform and utilize the many solutions that are offered through it, and will enable merchants to quickly make use of new services to grow their business.


How does it work?

The X.commerce ecosystem consists primarily of:

  • Capabilities
  • Fabric
  • Messages.

Capabilities are technologies and services that provide solutions for commerce use cases. A capability is usually either a “provider capability” (when providing a business solution) or a “consumer capability” (when relying on provider capabilities to provide a specific solution to a merchant or an end consumer).  To a certain extent, provider capabilities are analogous to service providers on the web, and consumer capabilities are analogous to applications, storefronts & extensions. But unlike typical service providers, applications, storefronts, and extensions, which can only act as one or other, any capability can act both as a provider and as a consumer at the same time.

For example, a capability running on behalf of a merchant can consume/utilize various multi-channel capabilities to increase the merchant’s distribution and reach. At the same time, the capability can also become an inventory provider for other capabilities. 

The Fabric is an open message broker that provides a standards-based way to integrate and consume capabilities within the X.commerce ecosystem. It makes the integration of the capabilities with merchant stores and applications very simple. The Fabric uses the widely known topic-based Publish-Subscribe messaging pattern to provide a highly scalable and extensible solution. Capabilities publish and/or subscribe to various topics based on the service or functionality that they either provide or consume or both.

Publishing and subscribing (receiving) messages through the Fabric is done through simple HTTP POST requests, and can be implemented in almost any programming language and technology that provides a way to send and receive HTTP requests.

A message, consisting of payload and HTTP headers is sent to a topic:

The Avro schemas that are used to describe the message payload data are defined in X.commerce “message contracts”. The message contracts are defined as part of the X.commerce Open Commerce Language program to standardize the language, interaction and integration models for the users of the X.commerce Fabric.

What can you do?

The X.commerce ecosystem and the Fabric’s single-integration model provide several opportunities for merchants, developers and solution providers.  Using the Fabric’s single integration model,

  • Merchants can utilize the extensions and applications to:
    • Increase the reach of their products and services through various capabilities that offer a variety of new distribution channels (eg. marketplaces, SEO/SEM, etc.), expose their business data to other capabilities that enhance their business intelligence
    • Take advantage of capabilities that offer newer features and functionalities, which would have taken a lot of resources, times and money to implement
    • Access hundreds of thousands of developers and solution providers who can help them compete with other big online commerce providers.
  • Developers can:
    • Access hundreds of millions of consumers and merchants who are hungry for better end-to-end commerce experiences
    • Participate in an open ecosystem where they can build, provide and monetize various commerce-related tools and capabilities
    • Find the most complete set of commerce related tools and capabilities that empower them to build better solutions for their merchants and consumers
    • Build extensions and plugins to various storefronts (such as Magento and osCommerce) and platforms (such as Salesforce) out there in the industry to enable easier integrations with Fabric for both merchants and other developers
    • Participate in defining and shaping up the message contracts that solve a variety of commerce business use cases.
  • Solution providers can:
    • Reach millions of merchants connected to the Fabric through various extensions and plugins
    • Simplify the integration process (lower the bar) for merchants and developers by making use of the standardized message contracts and open-standards-based technologies.
    • Manage their relationships with merchants through Fabric’s secure and simplified on-boarding process.

Where to start?

At X.commerce Innovate Developer conference last year, a preview version of the Fabric was launched for early developer access. Developers could download and install the Fabric on their local machines to understand various aspects of the Fabric messaging model. This also gave developers a preview into what it takes to build capabilities using the asynchronous messaging paradigm used by the Fabric and how various things like message contracts, topics & tenants, and the relationships among them work.

On Jan 31st 2012, the hosted Fabric beta sandbox environment was made available to developers. Developers can now start building capabilities using the Fabric Sandbox environment, which provides a very realistic experience of how the Fabric will work in the production environment when it goes live. The Developer Portal provides the administrative interface where developers register their capabilities, subscribe to topics, authorize tenants and obtain the required authentication credentials to interact with the Fabric Sandbox environment.

In addition to the Developer Portal, both the standalone developer package and the X.commerce plugin for Eclipse have been updated and released to provide various tools and wizards for the developer to kick-start their integrations.