Well, introducing .... - the new MageBridge Product Plugins have lived in MageBridge since its start, but under a different name: Product Connectors. But the entire architecture has been revamped, made more flexible and easily extendible. Let's check what's new.
What are Product Plugins?
MageBridge allows you to integrate Magento into Joomla! (and vice versa) and bridges all frontend functionality between the two applications. But this does not mean MageBridge is an e-commerce application, it is still just a bridge. Well, just a bridge - it is a bridge, but takes that concept to a maximum level: It applies many tricks to the bridge, that would normally be extremely difficult (or expensive) to do. Product Plugins are part of that.
Simply put, Product Plugins allow you to do something in Joomla! whenever a Magento product is purchased. This leads to exciting post-sales options.
Giving your customers access to download-folders
Whenever a Magento product is sold in Magento, you might want to give that customer access to a download-folder with manuals, flyers or something. But Magento does not offer downloads in a flexible way - if you have ever worked with Downloadable Products before, you'll know it has some limitations. So instead, you can choose a Magento extension that offers this functionality - most of these solutions will either be crappy or expensive.
MageBridge offers you an alternative, by assiging the customer to a specific Joomla! usergroup and then let you decide which one of the 1000s extensions you want to use as download-manager (or simply use Joomla! articles instead). The process of assigning a customer to an usergroup is made possible thanks to MageBridge Product Plugins.
Another example: Product-specific emails
One more example is to send every customer a product-specific email. Within the MageBridge backend, you can create a new Product Relation and connect a single product or group of products to the action of sending a specific Joomla! article. This makes it very easy to send the customer instructions that are specific for a set of products. No additional Magento extension required. It works right out of the box.
What's new with the new plugin-architecture
By rewriting connectors to plugins, a couple of things have changed in the workings of Product Plugins: First of all, they are easy to write. If you know how to write a simple Joomla! plugin, you will know how to write a MageBridge Product Plugin. Second, you can install and uninstall them easily. The MageBridge Update Manager makes this even easier, by simply allowing you to select the plugin from a predefined list.
Third, and now it gets cool, you can assign multiple actions to a single Product Relation. For instance, you can create one entry to take the customer who purchases a product out of a specific set of products, and add that customer to a specific usergroup, add him/her to another forum-group (Kunena for instance), send him/her a mail and much more. On a technical level this is already very cool (merging various JForm-structures into one form) but it makes things also much more user friendly.
And because this type of post-sales actions is rarely seen in other e-commerce applications, it makes MageBridge definitely unique.
Screencast on YouTube
Here's a link to a screencast on YouTube showing the new Product Plugins in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOuu-gdPcU8
Jump to MageBridge 1.9
The rewrite of product connectors to product plugins is also part of the MageBridge 1.9 release, which will be finished in a month or so. Stay tuned for more details.