Cloudways: Anthony, you are currently the CTO of Blackbird – A Magento Development Agency from France. How did you start your career in ecommerce and Magento and what challenges did you face initially?
Anthony: I started to work on Magento in 2010, but it was almost by accident. The agency I was working for had just signed an ecommerce project on Magento without any in-house knowledge. So this was the baptism of fire, “We sold it, so we have to do it, who’s in?”
First challenges were to get familiar with the different functional aspects of the CMS and to learn how to develop our own theme.
Cloudways: What are the essential points you focus while optimizing and improving Magento performance and developing the extensions for your clients?
Anthony: What is crucial for us when we develop is to ensure the maintainability of the code and its readability as well. A well-organized code enables us to keep the focus on its execution performance, as it gives a better overall vision of the system. It will also be easier to scale up afterward.
Cloudways: What is your opinion of Magento 2? How do you see the growth of the platform? What changes would you like to see on Magento 2 and why?
Anthony: Magento 2 seems to be getting bigger and bigger in the last couple of months. At Blackbird, we don’t sell any Magento 1.x for more than a year, but we still ensure the maintenance of the existing Magento 1.x projects. All the stakeholders are responsible for the transition towards Magento 2. Some won’t follow and switch to another technology, but we trust its evolution. It has solid foundations, and its good market presence will maintain Magento as a leader, for a while.
The overall learning curve is more complicated than it is for Magento 1, but once it is mastered, some tasks are done faster; we also have the feeling that the whole system is better organized and will be maintained for a more extended period. Its complexity requires a certain quality of development for our extensions and the one sold on the marketplace.
I would like that Magento keeps working on the performance and be more assiduous in controlling their updates. We still find bugs after some releases that jeopardize some of our client’s systems. They should really restore the trusting environment and avoid doubts and questions.
Cloudways: Do you think that Magento 2 has had a significant impact on the ecommerce industry?
Anthony: In the past years we have seen lots of new ecommerce dedicated CMS, like OroCommerce for instance. The presence of competitors forces Magento to improve itself continuously and to stay in the race. Regarding features, Magento is really a complete solution that enables to build a website with all the ecommerce features immediately ready-to-use with a good scalability. Also, thanks to the community of developers that Magento stays in the game and remains among the most used ecommerce platform.
Cloudways: What would be your suggestion to the merchants migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2? Do you think store owners and online buyers will benefit from the growth of Magento 2?
Anthony: Magento 2 is the future. If you decide to migrate to Magento 2, it is the right time to reconsider your overall process. The functional migration being quite heavy, take this opportunity to do even better on your second shot. Although, there’s no rush as Magento 1 is still maintained and reliable but really take the time to carefully think about all the features and their concordance with the Magento 2 version, if necessary.
In the long-run, Magento 2 will offer you more stability, scalability and overall quality. Magento includes more and more BI features for a better conversion. Do some research on Magento Business Intelligence to get more information about this. Some B2B features are also in the pipeline.
Cloudways: How do you maintain your quality of work? What would you suggest to our readers?
Anthony: It is essential to keep abreast of evolutions of the platform. Read the changelogs, check the forums and perform (automated) tests. Efficient code structuring is the basis of an excellent stability.
Regularly reconsider your developments and seek external advice.
Cloudways: Would Magento be able to keep up with the changing trends of the ecommerce industry?
Anthony: The ecommerce industry is changing really fast. The customer expectancies regarding user experience are higher and higher. Magento is now trying to acquire technologies developed by others, to increase its functional scope at a faster pace. We can mention Bluefoot CMS or OnTap Merchandiser for instance. This strategy seems quite efficient and ensures new perspectives.
Cloudways: How would you describe the role of Magento in French ecommerce industry?
Anthony: In the French market, Magento has a robust French competitor: Prestashop. Even though Magento has always been far ahead, we can’t deny that today the difference regarding features is not so noticeable anymore. However, there are still lots of French merchants that are interested in the American solution as it is always a preferred solution for mid-market and more.
Cloudways: Anthony, you are also a Magento Certified Developer. What are your tips for passing Magento Developer certification? Please share some of your favorite resources for learning Magento development.
Anthony: To pass the Magento certification, you need to know it from every angle. It takes time; you have to sleep, eat and live with Magento. When you develop, keep an eye on what you do and which feature you extend or inherit. By reading and understanding the existing code, you will be able to get certified. Each functionality has to be known and understood, from the CMS page to the checkout, through imports and delivery method. Be curious!
Here are some of the blogs I check regularly:
Cloudways: What do you think are the main challenges for newbies stepping into Magento development? Please give some advice to the newbie Magento developers.
Anthony: The main challenge for beginners is to face the tentacular structure of the files, but then they’ll realize that this particular breakdown allows a better understanding and scalability.
Cloudways: How do you spend your spare time when you are not working? Tell us more about your life, hobbies, and things you love the most.
Anthony: Aside from my job, I try to cleanse my mind by spending time with my family and friends and by doing some sport as well. I also watch a lot of series and I keep wondering who among Jamie and Tyrion Lannister will betray Daenerys in GOT’s 8th season.
Cloudways: Who inspired you the most and kept you motivated in your personal and professional life. Also, can you please share a picture of your workplace?
Anthony: In my personal life, my wife and my family. At work, my colleagues are the ones who keep me motivated. I try to give my best every day to make their life nicer. It is their happiness that makes mine.
Cloudways: Cloudways provides 1-Click Magento installation with impressive speed and great cloud infrastructures embedded within the platform. Would you prefer shared hosting for Magento stores or a cloud hosting environment like Cloudways?
Anthony: I prefer the Cloud solution from far as it enables a better flexibility on the long term. It also provides a better availability of server resources for a more linear performance.