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Laurent Lépée on The Importance of Frontend Development For Magento 2 Stores

March 9, 2018

5 Min Read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Laurent Lepee Interview

Cloudways: Let’s start this interview with a traditional question! Please share the highlights of your career? Who or what inspired you to work with Magento?

Laurent: After my graduation in 2013, I started working at a small web agency specializing in ecommerce websites. At this time, I acquired my first taste of working with Magento. Since I worked as a fulltime ecommerce solution, I chose to challenge myself to pass the Magento Frontend Developer Certification. That was the start of my story.

In June 2017, I changed jobs and joined another organization that worked with Magento 2. I jumped straight into working with the new version of Magento. This is a great challenge!

Cloudways: Being an experienced Magento frontend developer, you understand the problems faced by Magento developers. What are the most annoying stumbling blocks for Magento frontend developers and how can they overcome them?

Laurent: Well, for me, the most annoying stumbling block is the slow evolution of the frontend technologies in Magento. In Magento 1, we had to deal with Prototype which was probably a good choice when the first stable Magento version was released in 2008. We had to wait until the version 1.9 and the RWD theme (in 2014) that came with native integration of common technologies such as Sass or jQuery.

In Magento 2, we have to deal with Knockout.js, which is not intuitive and difficult to master. In addition, the native libraries such as Fotorama or jquery.cookie just made the development process worse. I have to carry out a lot of security tests for critical problems in these libraries.

Fortunately, Magento is flexible enough to allow easy integration of new libraries and tools. I think the speed of the development of the frontend technologies means that the workflows will change significantly in a year or two.

Cloudways: In your view, what are some of the most significant benefits of Magento2? How do you compare Magento 1 with Magento 2 in terms of frontend development and performance? How do you see the future of Magento 2?

Laurent: First of all, the implementation of Composer is one of the best benefits of Magento 2. It makes the upgrade process very simple and opens up access to a wide range of packages from open source communities. I love this part.

Magento developer documentation is another great improvement. It covers all aspects of basic Magento 2 development and the best practices. This is the tech-bible for Magento 2 developers. UI components and 2-step checkout process are also cool features.

In terms of frontend development, Magento 2 offers new tools such as Grunt, LESS, RequireJS, and Knockout. However, many of the tools are already outdated. In my opinion, they are actually slowly vanishing in 2018.

In the future, I still believe that Magento 2 will be the leading ecommerce CMS. I have work with other solution like Sylius or Prestashop, and none have the outstanding features offered by Magento. Now, with the codebase on Github, everyone can improve, patch or suggest new functions. This a huge step forward.

Cloudways: What’s your suggestion for merchants who power their stores with Magento and want to increase sale? Does frontend play a significant role in the ROI and growth of store numbers?

Laurent: The frontend of an ecommerce store is the first point of contact for the visitors. As first impressions are the last impressions, a bright and intuitive user interface is essential for excellent user experience.

Today a responsive website is an essential requirement because of the prevalence of mobile devices, especially in emerging markets in Asia and South America. Online stores should load fast, and frontend can play a significant role, thanks to  Progressive Web Apps (PWA). PWAs are hybrid between a native application and a traditional website. They are reliable, fast and engaging. Magento works on the PWA Studio, and it should be available in version 2.3.

Cloudways: What tools do you use for frontend development? What is an ideal toolkit for Magento frontend developers?

Laurent: I use PhpStorm for all my Magento projects. It is not as lightweight as Sublime or VS Code, but I love this IDE. It has a wide array of tools including Gulp/Grunt tasks, Emmet, Git integration, shell, local history, etc. Additionally, I use Magicento for working efficiently and saving time when I am developing a module. I also use n98-magerun, the best Magento CLI Tool.

For me, using Sass as CSS preprocessor and Gulp as task runner and ECMAScript 6 with Javascript standard is the best package. You can easily setup this on Magento 2 with the Sass-based version of Magento 2 Blank theme and the Magento 2 Frontools repositories. Thanks to Snowdog team for these open source projects, and don’t forget to setup URN schema validation to avoid XML issues.

Cloudways: Developing a Magento based ecommerce stores is no bed of roses. What keeps you going when things get tough?

Laurent: Well, ecommerce developers in the world are a family, and we all face similar problems and similar pressure from the merchants. Working with Magento developers and community members is always a great experience. My family is very supportive during the crunch time.

Cloudways: Brad Henry said, “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” What’s the best advice you would give to motivate the Magento newbies and learners?

Laurent: Magento 1 has a tough learning curve. It is still true for Magento 2. For the frontend developers, you have to learn Layout XML, LESS, KnockoutJS, RequireJS and soon React, Redux and GraphQL.

I recommend everyone with ambitions of becoming a Magento developer to find senior developers as mentors. It is always easier when you can share the problems and learn from others who can lead you in the right direction. Don’t forget the Magento Devdocs and the Magento communities such as Magento Stack Exchange, Slack, Magento Forum or Twitter #magento #realmagento.

Cloudways: What does a typical day for you look like? How do you balance work and family demands? What are your passions and hobbies?

Laurent: I arrive at my office at 9 AM. my team start with discussing the problems we are facing in the planning and execution and draw up an action plan for the new day. After leaving work for home at 6, I will be with my family and try my best to relax.

It is not easy to keep the balance between work and family, especially when my two daughters are too young and need my attention. My wife takes care of our daughters for most of the time so that I can work without any anxieties.

My hobby is music. I am a bass player. I also love everything about Science Fiction books, movies, video games, but right now, free time is hard to find.

Cloudways: Motivators and influencers impact us in both personal and professional life. Who are your motivators and favorite influencers?

Laurent: In the Magento community I really appreciate Alan Storm, Marius Strajeru, Vinai Kopp, Ben Marks and Bartek Igielski, but more generally all the people who share their experiences and knowledge.

Cloudways: We provide 1-Click Magento installation with impressive speed & great cloud infrastructures embedded within the platform. Would you prefer shared hosting for Magento stores or a cloud hosting environment like Cloudways offers?

Laurent: I prefer cloud hosting solutions because they are more flexible and you can easily adjust the resources you need. Without hesitation, I will choose Cloudways.

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Fayyaz Khattak

Fayyaz is a Magento Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed Magento Hosting Platform. His objective is to learn & share about PHP & Magento Development in Community. Fayyaz is a food lover and enjoys driving. You can email him at m.fayyaz@cloudways.com

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