Joe Constant is the Magento Technical Architect at Alpine Consulting Inc. He has vast years of experience on the development side. His ability to combine technical expertise with a keen awareness of business strategy makes him one of the most well-rounded technology professionals.
Joe is a determined, focused yet friendly attitude person. He is incredibly talented, smart and fabulous Magento developer. Joe is a fan of dogs and also a photography nut too. Without further ado, let’s read about his career and life.
Cloudways: Joe Constant, you are currently working in Alpine Consulting Inc as a Magento Technical Architect. You have vast years of experience on the Development side. What challenges did you face initially in your career? How did you connect yourself with Magento? Share your career history with our readers.
Joe: I’ve been interested in programming since a very early age. I fondly remember fighting with DoubleSpace to increase the hard drive capacity of the family computer to 200mb so that I could run Visual Basic. My first job was working as a part-time cashier at Harbor Freight Tools. After about 2 years working at the store in Riverside, California I applied for a position at the corporate office working for the Retail MIS department doing tech support.
I showed an interest in programming and the VP of the department sent me with other developers to a training class for Java. I quickly picked it up and starting building both web and GUI applications. Fast forward a few years and HFT was going through a process to rewrite their ecommerce site. The original one had been built on Tango in 1998 (it was still being maintained by in-house developers). Upper management had brought in a consulting firm to help select and implement a new ecommerce system. While Magento wasn’t the first choice, it ended up being the one selected and built. Towards the end of the project, the IT department began preparing to build an in-house team to manage the development of the site.
Up until then, HFT was a Java shop. I was the only one with any PHP experience, so I was reviewing resumes and handling the initial phone screens (after the in-house HR had screened them) to determine who to bring in for face-to-face interviews. I ended up talking to my boss and the CTO about moving over to that team, and they both approved. I’ve been doing Magento development ever since.
Cloudways: We have many other open source Ecommerce platforms, what made Magento special from others? If Magento was not developed, which platform would you choose for E-commerce?
Joe: I’ve been pretty happy with Magento, so I don’t know that I would pick another one. If Magento didn’t exist at all, I probably would never have moved into ecommerce and would still be a Java developer somewhere.
Cloudways: What do you think Magento 2 will capture the bigger chunk of E-commerce’s Industry? Is it fulfilling the requirements of the merchants and developers? Do you think store owners can improve their sales with Magento 2?
Joe: I see a wide open future for Magento. With the service layer, they have added they can cleanup more of the internals and improve the foundation so that great things can be built on it. M2 offers a framework that is closer to mainstream PHP. I think we will see some PHP developers that have stayed away from Magento before start exploring the framework. It should make hiring PHP developers that want to learn Magento easier (though the quality of developer you hire will have to be higher than with M1 due to some of the added complexities).
Cloudways: In your opinion, what are the common problems nowadays Magento Developers are facing? On which main points Magento Developer should focus?
Joe: Learn M2. There is still a market for M1 as there are many merchants that will delay upgrading, but M2 is the future. For me, the biggest issue for Magento developers today will be jumping back and forth between M1 and M2 development. They are different frameworks. There are some definite similarities, but some of those similarities will quickly be frowned upon if you use them (e.g. overriding whole classes just to change a single method VS plugins)
Cloudways: What & why would you suggest, Magento 1.x or Magento 2? Share your thoughts about the future of magento? How do you see Magento as Company growth in upcoming years with Magento 2?
Joe: Definitely M2, but with some caution. If you have a complex set of requirements, M2 will require a lot of custom development compared to M1 due the difference in the number of 3rd party extensions available. Custom development obviously means spending a lot more on an implementation (both regarding money and time).
Cloudways: In Feb 2012, you became the Magento Certified Developer Plus, kindly share your experience and resources you took to be the officially certified? Also, highlight the importance of such certifications for Magento Developer.
Joe: Magento U is worth it. I took the online classes even though I had been doing Magento development for a couple of years. I learned things in the classes that helped when it came to the exam. Along with Magento U, spend time digging into the internals and just working with the code in general. The exam is based on experience. So the more experience you have, the less difficulty you will have with it. Yes, M2 is out, and you should be learning it. But an M1 certification is still important. There are a lot of merchants on M1. At some point, the majority of them will want to either upgrade or start fresh on M2. Having a M1 certification will be good to have for demonstrating to those merchants that you are capable of working on their upgrade.
Cloudways: In your opinion what are the advantages of attending Magento events? What are your thoughts about Meet Magento & Magento Imagine Commerce? What are the benefits for new magenticians to attend these types of events?
Joe: Developing with Magento is (or at least should be) more than just a framework you work with. There is a whole community out there. Meet Magento and Imagine are both places where you can meet many from the community and learn from them. (as well as network with other developers. You never know when you will need to reach out to someone to help you with a tough problem.)
Cloudways: What would be your suggestions for new and fresh Magento Developers? Also, share your motivational words and bits of advice with students and future Developers?
Joe: Never stop learning. Even if you are learning things not related to Magento. Some of those things might come up on a project anyway. Or you may be able to apply the same approach to a problem in Magento that you learned on some other framework.
Cloudways: Everybody needs free time to refresh the mind. What are your hobbies? Share your personal interest with our readers. As you mentioned on your website “I am married with 4 great kids, a dog, and a cat that thinks it’s a human.” Do you really love pets or it’s just a formality because of family pressure? 😛
Joe: I am a big fan of dogs. Growing up we had 2 dogs. The cat is more of my wife’s thing. She wanted a kitten for my daughters to play with. He’s not a kitten any longer. He’s more like that grumpy old uncle that everyone sorts of tolerates. I love working with Laravel for side projects, and I’m always digging into various APIs to try to automate my workflows. Although it has been a while since I’ve broken out my camera, I’m a bit of a photography nut too.
Cloudways: Everyone has some inspiration and motivation for their success in their life. Name some people who have real importance in your personal and professional life.
Joe: Well, anyone that has learned M1 (and soon M2 as well) has to credit Alan Storm. Without his blog, we would all be lost. I would also say that a few people from my days at Harbor Freight are to credit for where I am today. Had they not given me a chance I probably would still be either working in a retail store or doing phone tech support. So thank you Tom Hicks, Robert Smith, David White, Steve Stebbings, and Paul Kasinski. Each of you had a role in who I am today.
Cloudways: Cloudways provides 1-click Magento installation with awesome speed & famous cloud infrastructures embedded within the platform. Would you prefer shared hosting for Magento stores or a cloud hosting environment like Cloudways offers?
Joe: I am not a fan of shared hosting for ecommerce. I’m a believer in the old mantra “you have to spend money to make money”. Merchants should spend more than $5/mo for hosting and go with a real server. (either physical or cloud/virtual based but still get a full server)
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