Learning Magento. Part 1: Developers talks

Learning Magento. Part 1: developers talks

With this post we open a series of articles on Magento development education. Today’s part appeared thanks to these wonderful guys – Magento developers and professionals, who agreed to share their experience with those who think about stepping onto this path or already making the first attempts.
We asked the same several questions to the guys that know Magento better you can even imagine, so take a cup of coffee or tea, get comfortable and enjoy.

Marius Strajeru

Marius1. Please introduce yourself (short bio, where you are now).

My name is Marius Strajeru, I’m 31 years “young” and I live in Bucharest, Romania. I’m married to Oana and we have a 1 year old son, Alex that you can see here enjoying his elePHPant: https://twitter.com/MariusStrajeru/status/511151451998269441

I’m a web developer and now I collaborate with a company called Arnia Software (http://www.arnia.ro) where I work from time to time on Magento projects.

Occasionally I write something on my blog: http://marius-strajeru.blogspot.ro/ but my “addiction” is http://magento.stackexchange.com.

You can also find me on twitter @MariusStrajeru.

2. How did you start developing for Magento? Do you remember your first project?

This happened a long time ago. It was July 2008, I was on my first day at a new job and the team lead there asked me “Do you have any knowledge of Magento?”to which I answered “No. What’s that?” and he continued: “We don’t have any knowledge of it either, but we made a study a and concluded that it might be the best platform for the online shop we need to do. Good luck”.  6 months and a lot of headaches later I delivered my first Magento project www.bambinoworld.eu.  + 5 additional websites on the same magento instance.

It was built on Magento 1.0 with a heavily modified core (I confess…I was a core modifier). It didn’t look like it does now, it has gone through at least 3 face lifts since then and I upgraded it to EE in late 2010.

I continued to work on the same project for the next 2 years (with small breaks from time to time) when I had the time and opportunity to make almost all the possible mistakes and learn a lot from them :).

3. What are the pros and cons of development specifically for Magento, according to your experience?

I’ll start with the cons.

The thing I found the hardest in Magento was the learning curve. It is very steep and that might discourage a developer.

The other thing that was a problem until just a few years ago, was the documentation. When I started working on Magento, there was no documentation. Just some questionable forum posts. Lately this is not the case. You can find solutions to most of the Magento related problems and almost everything is documented somewhere on the web.

…and the pros.

If/When you get passed the cons I listed above, you realize that you are working with a well written CMS/Framework/E-commerce solution.

The code is clean, it has a lot of built in features that you don’t need to code yourself, or that you can clone in your own modules.

And last but maybe the most important, THE Community. Magento has a great community. Of course that wasn’t the case when it started, but now there are a lot of community members sharing ideas, answers, modules, code snippets that can make a Magento developer’s life easier.

4.  Your top Magento learning resource (a book, a website/blog, etc)?

Like I said above, at the beginning this was a big problem. There weren’t that many resources. So I had to educate myself by digging deep in the code for each problem I had, by making mistakes and realizing and fixing them later.

But now I use http://magento.stackexchange.com, where I can ask the community for help or look through the 15.000+ answers that are already there.

Even if the Magento forum: http://www.magentocommerce.com/boards is in read only mode I still find solutions in there.

And for beginners, but not only, I recommend Vinai Kopp’s book: Grokking Magento.

5. Your top tip/advice to those who think about becoming a Magento developer.

Dig deep into the code, modify a core for learning purposes and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

But most important. Be patient. It may be overwhelming at first but it’s going to be beautiful later.

Fabrizio Balliano

Farbizio1. Please introduce yourself (short bio, where you are now)

Hello everybody and thank you for calling me! It’s a long story I’ll try to summarize, I started as a PHP developer in the previous millenium :) back in 1999, worked for a couple of web agencies then started a company based on open source as a business model. After 7 years I continued as a freelance and now I’m CTO for Sevenlike, a Magento Silver Partner company based in Milan, Italy.

I love the open source and the Linux world and with the little spare time (do you know where to find some?) I have I try to keep some of my side projects alive, I’m talking about a couple of Ubuntu remixes, a mini social network for Italian train travelers and some PHP FLOSS software (one among all of them a PHP framework called P4A focused on creating backends, born in 2003, thus quite old now, but that was quite famous back in that time) and Magento modules.

If you want to reach me here’s all my contacts:

http://fabrizioballiano.it/

http://fabrizioballiano.net/

http://twitter.com/fballiano

www.linkedin.com/in/fabrizioballiano

http://github.com/fballiano

or come meet me at Meet Magento Poland in November, where I’ll hold a speech about visitors tracking when you’ve Varnish in your infrastructure.

2. How did you start developing for Magento? Do you remember your first project?

As a free software activist I started to get interested in Magento right after it’s birth and for some time I was the Italian translator for the official magentocommerce.com/it blog. I studied and followed the project for some time but I was working on different kinds of applications. One day in 2011 I decided to get a full time Magento job with Sevenlike and the first real big project I worked on was the Magento 1.5 Italian eshop for Save The Children, where the customers can buy personalized cards/ecards/videocards (and many more) personalized items, all for charity.

3. What are the pros and cons of development specifically for Magento, according to your experience?

E-commerce is always a tough topic, there are really a lot of variables you’ve to consider (this is also the reason why it’s so thrilling).

The thing I like less about Magento is the lack of official technical documentation, most of all about some complex parts of the core (or some enterprise modules), this is partly solved but the nicest pro, the beautiful engineering of the sotware, really a piece of art (in some way).

Magento it’s a huge platform and also the community edition it’s actually enterprise level software. It’s funny and compelling to find the right way to code every single and different task you’ve to develop every day and it’s so nice to be able to create clean maintainable code.

4. Your top Magento learning resource (a book, a website/blog, etc)?

Without any doubt “Magento U – Fundamentals of Magento development”, a class course held by the great mentor Vinai Kopp.

5. Your top tip/advice to those who think about becoming a Magento developer.

If you’re starting your experience with Magento my suggestion is to work on some real project (as a helping hand for some more experienced dev) for some time, try to figure out things and search the Internet for info. It will be hard and you’ll have a lot of questions. Then go for a Magento U course, it will answer your questions, filling all the gaps and from the next day you’ll have such a great boost. It’s going to be worth the cost (and I’m not even paid by Ebay to say that :)).

Alexander Stelmakh

Alex1. Please introduce yourself (short bio, where you are now)

My name is Alexander Stelmakh, I’ve got a bachelor degree in Mathematics and System Programming, became 4th Zend certified engineer in all Belarus and I am a Magento Certified Specialist for almost 5 years. I was a head of development department in several software companies for around 6-8 years before founding Amasty. At the moment I’m actively engaged into growing Amasty brand,  helping to transfer technical Magento functionality to shop owners language.

2. How did you start developing for Magento? Do you remember your first project?

I accidentally noticed it on Zend website, downloaded, tried and loved it! My very first project was on buying process optimization (fast checkout).

3. What are the pros and cons of development specifically for Magento, according to your experience?

Pros: fine code, great architecture, vast community, overall high demand in e-commerce field, and possibility to see the results of your work right away.
Cons: you need to use the specific technology stack: Magento has prototype.js and you should use it, no fancy new stuff allowed. It’s also difficult to experiment with new features in PHP, because your main priority is reliability, not just interest and enthusiasm to implement modern technologies.
But these negative sides are relative, because Magento 2 is going to provide the developers with lots of new instruments and up-to-date methods.

4.  Your top Magento learning resource (a book, a website/blog, etc)?

Now I am actively participating in http://magento.stackexchange.com/,  before that I used to spend a lot of time on Magento forum.
The best way to study Magento is the source code!

5. Your top tip/advice to those who think about becoming a Magento developer.

Start today to become an in-demand specialist tomorrow. Remember than Magento owns 30% of the e-commerce market, and this is only the beginning of a long journey.

Vinai Kopp

Vinai1. Please introduce yourself (short bio, where you are now)

My name is Vinai Kopp, living and working mostly in Germany. My website is http://vinaikopp.com/
I’m a freelance developer and trainer for Magento development.
The friendly people in the developer community and work on open source projects are my main inspiration.

2. How did you start developing for Magento? Do you remember your first project?

Like many others, I moved to Magento looking for an alternative to xtCommerce or osCommerce. The first Magento project I worked on started in January 2008 and was completed in March, shortly after Magento 1.0 was released.
Unfortunately that shop is no longer in existence. :)
The very first module I I ever created during that project is still used by many and I actively maintain it:
https://github.com/Vinai/customer-activation

3. What are the pros and cons of development specifically for Magento, according to your experience?

It is a great way for PHP developers to start working with and studying design patterns. Easy customization is a pro, but the downsides are the massive technical debt of Magento and the high costs still rather limited scalability.

4. Your top Magento learning resource (a book, a website/blog, etc)?

Number one resource: the core code. This was true in 2008 and still is just as true.
Otherwise I would like to think the book „Grokking Magento 1: Basics & Request Flow” I published in March is a good resource, too.

5. Your top tip/advice to those who think about becoming a Magento developer.

– Don’t stop when it works, dig deeper until you understand why it works, too.
– Learning always feels uncomfortable at first, but that is how we get better.
– Providing support on the http://magento.stackexchange.com/ or IRC is an awesome way to learn, fast
– Visit Magento hackathons and get involved with this first class open source community. There are so many sweet people :)

Phillip Jackson

Phil1.  Please introduce yourself (short bio, where you are now, link to the blog if any, your pic)

blog.philwinkle.com

I’ve been building eCommerce solutions since 1998. With over 15 years of experience creating unique online customer experiences, I’ve built and managed Magento installations for some of the world’s most recognizable brands. I have all 4 Magento certifications at present, making me one of the most certified developers in the community. I currently hold the #2 spot in the world at the Q&A site Magento StackExchange, run the South Florida Magento Meetup, and co-host  “MageTalk”, a Magento-focused podcast.

2. How did you start developing for Magento? Do you remember your first project?

I was a Zend Framework developer and was active in IRC and on message boards at the time – Magento being based on some Zend components gave it some buzz in the ZF community and so I became aware of the project in late 2007/early 2008 when the beta was first announced. I have been using Magento since 2008 and launched my first Magento store in January 2009.

3. What are the pros and cons of development specifically for Magento, according to your experience?

The learning curve is the most difficult hurdle to overcome; you have to know a wealth of information about web applications and technologies in general to do anything of value in Magento. MVC, AJAX, XML, and now SASS/SCSS – as well as some knowledge of design patterns – is pretty much required. Training up junior developers seems to be the biggest challenge in our developer community to date.

4. Your top Magento learning resource (a book, a website/blog, etc)?

I know you asked for one – but I’ll give you two resources: The “Grokking Magento” book series (Vinai Kopp/Ben Marks) is my #1 resource as far as printed material is concerned. The first book is incredibly in-depth and attempts to walk you through a not-so-gentle introduction to Magento and its underpinnings. My second resource is Alan Storm’s blog. Alan is a prolific developer and also goes to great lengths to bring you to an understanding of *how* things function, not just spoon-feeding you some code snippets. Alan also has multiple Magento books and I would encourage you to pick those up as well.

5. Your top tip/advice to those who think about becoming a Magento developer.

Do it. Don’t delay. Do it now. We have a void of talented developers in the community and more than enough work to go around. Certified developers are hard to come by – at the time of this writing we only have ~3000 of us worldwide. There is a bubble in pay structure now as well, causing Magento developers to be paid more highly than any other senior-level PHP developers out there. The time is right – get started right away!

Rico Neitzel

 Rico1. Please introduce yourself (short bio, where you are now, link to the blog if any, your pic)

My name is Rico Neitzel. I’m a co-founder of the Germany based agency BURO 71A in Würzburg. I’m a professional media specialist since 1997 and can do client work in both print and web. I’m focused on Magento since 2006. I’m helping Magento people in Germany to evolve ideas and events around the Magento Community. I’m also taking care of the German localization of Magento.

2. How did you start developing for Magento? Do you remember your first project?

I joined the German localization – that was my first “project” with Magento. Since then I created and sponsored a few extensions that – today – are of high value for merchants and developers who want to easily start a Magento project.

3. What are the pros and cons of development specifically for Magento, according to your experience?

Magento is high level development which makes it hard for developers to start with it. In addition to that it’s even harder to get familiar with the “Magento specialties” that resulted from different teams and some language barriers.

4. Your top Magento learning resource (a book, a website/blog, etc)?

That’s easy: Vinai Kopp, Alan Storm and Fabian Blechschmidt – I love to talk to these highly educated developers. I learned a lot from them.
You can read a lot out there on their blogs and websites.
http://vinaikopp.com
http://alanstorm.com
http://magento.stackexchange.com
http://blog.fabian-blechschmidt.de
Attend Hackathons (https://www.mage-hackathon.de) and Community Events (http://www.meet-magento.com) – it’s the easiest way to get in touch and share knowledge!

5. Your top tip/advice to those who think about becoming a Magento developer.

Magento’s learning curve seems to be vertical :) But there are so many people out there on IRC and stackoverflow to get you ready for that journey. Don’t worry, it’ll take a few months to feel comfortable, but it will pay off! You will meet incredibly nice and smart people and  you can improve your own programming skills a lot!

Tim Bezhashvyly

Tim1. Please introduce yourself (short bio, where you are now, link to the blog if any, your pic)

My name is Tim Bezhashvyly. I’m a certified Magento developer currently working at 21sportsgroup.

2. How did you start developing for Magento? Do you remember your first project?

It was a natural transition from osCommerce. Smooth and pleasant. I would like to thank Nick Weisser and Vinai Kopp for encouraging and supporting me in the process. I do remember my first project but I’d better not. Direct SQL queries in templates and copying of layout XMLs from base theme to my package .. nightmare.

3. What are the pros and cons of development specifically for Magento, according to your experience?

The pros are the community and money. I don’t think such a collection of a nice and friendly people exist around any other platform. And Magento developers are quite demanded so salaries are more then sufficient. The contra is that Magento is far from being perfect and while earning money you are going a wrong direction. I can compare it with learning BASIC. One the one hand you are getting into programming on the other you are mastering bad habits.

4. Your top Magento learning resource (a book, a website/blog, etc)?

I will be short. Grocking Magento book by Vinai Kopp.

5. Your top tip/advice to those who think about becoming a Magento developer.

Don’t. Unless you are only aiming for money. Even then you may be already a bit late. During recent months I saw quite some developers switching from Magento to other platforms as they see no future in neither  M1 nor M2.

We do hope this interview was of any help to you. Got any additional questions? You’re welcome to discuss them in comments.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog updates – the second article on Magento education will appear soon:

Ksenia Dobreva

Ksenia Dobreva

Ksenia is a devoted marketer with special love to blogging. She believes that content with several pinches of SEO and social can be a brilliant daily special. When she’s not working on Amasty updates and blog posts, Ksenia runs a blog on movies and books and helps animal shelters.

You may also like...

12 Responses

  1. Vadim says:

    I liked Tim’s answers =) I think it’s good when a developer has such an independent (and ironic) opinion. I wish I was told these things making my first steps in Magento.

  2. Keyur Shah says:

    @tim magento has no future ? neither M1 nor M2 ?

    • Ksenia Dobreva Ksenia Dobreva says:

      I think Tim didn’t say this. He wrote that some developers see no future in Magento, but that’s not only the question of pure perspective, it’s also a question of what this future can give them – and do they want it?
      Well, you can also ask Tim for details on Twitter 😉

  3. Carlo says:

    I wouldn’t call it a learning curve 😉 Several years ago when I started to learn Magento I would poke into books and google and post on a couple of discussion boards for weeks literally. At that time I was like oh my god it’s just killing me. I think it is very important to explain to the junior developers that they need more time to learn magento in comparison with what they expected it to be. A lot of young web developers are a bit spoiled by the speed they can dig into modern web technologies

  4. Vaseem Ansari says:

    Nicely written interesting article that every magento developer read.
    It feels good after working more than 7 years in magento. Today i feel happy as i can make anything work in magento.
    Magento is really a great solution for today’s ecommerce world.

  5. Hiren Modi says:

    Wow this is really great post. i was just looking for such content on the web for my website magento version up gradation.

  6. Magento Developer India says:

    Nyc post. Its informative. Thanx for sharing.

  7. Magento website design says:

    Great post!! Thanks for sharing nice post with us about magento…

  8. Peter Maskolin says:

    A great information regarding Best Web Designing Services it is interesting and people should know web designing with all our innovation and creativity to make it look the best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *