Mastering Magento - A Magento User's Manual

Mastering Magento - A Magento User's Manual

It takes a while after learning to develop with Magento to even consider picking up any random Magento job that comes along. I have learned that every site has an issue and every site owner has one idea that is just that close to impossible. If you are a PHP developer thinking of working on a Magento site and you have never seen Java, you may try a few things at first, but eventually just wish had any clue what is going one in all those files. But I do happen to pick up jobs now and then where other advanced PHP but newbie Magento developers are pulling their hair out and I just see the fix right away. Just because I once spent 3 days trying to do something similar. It gives me time to step back and go, well this may take me 30 minutes but am I billing for my hours or my expertise. When I started trying to write Magento code, I didn't really want to. I thought that was the whole reason we choose Magento was to write less code, because it would do so much. But eventually any website needs a bit of a change and some customization. I have never spent more time a support forum than I did at Magento's. I was an early adopter of Magento and no one was yet writing books or even blog posts. The fate of many of my early Magento issues lie in the hope of finding someone at that forum who had the same issue as I had and someone else who knew how to fix it. But eventually with time, I began to see how Magento fit together and many of the issues I could fix myself and many of the changes I knew how to do without looking anything up. If you are new to Magento, there are many resources out on the internet now that will help you with your Magento issues. But it still helps to have a firm grounding in how Magento works and what it can do. Mastering Magento is that owner's manual for Magento that you have been looking for. It is more like a guide book for admins, developers and designers that a tutorial for beginners. It is a book you will turn to when you need the question to something specific. Here are just a few of the things to will turn to this book for when you need help with Magento:

  • A site planning guide so that you know what you want out of your site, before you jump in and start taking wrong turn.
  • A server guide. No details on using FTP software. If you have this book, you should know that. But when you need to make sure a server you are thinking of choosing will handle your Magento site, this guide will be a big help.
  • A full chapter on products. With simple products, grouped products, configurable products, virtual products, bundle products, attributes and attribute sets floating around, it may be confusing to set up a new product in Magento.
  • A full chapter on theming. You can do a lot with Magento theming. That is how I started before creating my own Magento extensions. I simply creating custom themes with functions that presented data differently. It sort defeats the purpose of an MVC, but until you understand Magento's complex structure, it may be the best way to change something fast.
  • A guide to creating custom pages using Magento's built-in CMS. Every store needs more than product pages and Magento gives you the tools to create a complex site like custom pages, custom layouts and widgets.
  • A chapter on customers going into details on customer groups, discounts, coupon codes and newsletters.
  • A guide to extending Magento. It covers the details of installing and using extensions from Magento Connect. It does not go into detail about writing your own extension. But it gives you a start with a breakdown of a Magento extension's structure.
  • It goes into details about the EAV database structure. Yeah, that is just as, if not more confusing that all the files. Until you understand it, you will give up on making raw queries to your Magento database.
  • It covers performance issues and fixing them with the flat catalog structure, indexing and built in caching. It covers a few things you can do with the server to speed things up but does not go into advanced caching.
  • It has a guide on integrating Wordpress, using Magento's cron system and making database backups.
  • The last chapter is a prelaunch checklist just to make it easier for you to remember all the steps of launching your Magento site.

I would say that Mastering Magento is the ultimate guidebook to Magento so far. It covers all the details a person who wants to run his own Magento site would need to know to get started. Whether you are a Magento designer, developer or webmaster, learning the details of the other parts of managing a Magento site won't hurt and this book gives you a head start in all three of these directions.

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Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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