Cloudways has always tried to bring the voices of Magento champions to the limelight. Keeping up with the tradition, today we have Michael Türk, a Certified Magento Developer plus of the highest caliber, who candidly shares his opinions about the current standing of Magento within the CMS industry.
With years of vast experience in web development, Michael Türk is one of the most celebrated Magento developers. Currently, he is the partner of Flagbit GmbH & Co. KG. In this interview, he has shared his views in detail about Magento 2, his recommendations for being Magento certified, and he shared his personal life as well. Michael said “It’s easy to manage family life if you have an amazing family just as myself. My wife supported me in my way as an entrepreneur from the very beginning and I don’t want to miss the happy smile of my daughter whenever I arrive home.”
I hope the readers will love this interview with a very experienced developer of Magento.
Cloudways: Michael, I was amazed while going through your LinkedIn profile. You have vast years of experience on the development side. When did you start working with Magento? Share with our readers your journey of how you started your career as a developer. 🙂
Michael: First of all, thank you for having me. It is an honor to be asked for this interview. I hope my English is understandable for your readers.
Now, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Michael Türk. I am from Germany, living in Heidelberg together with my lovely wife and our two kids. Currently, I am taking a couple of weeks off since my son was born just 2 weeks ago. I work as a Key Account Manager at the German Magento Gold Solution Partner Flagbit. I have been a Magento developer since 2008 and I am a member of the Magento certification hall of fame having earned all of the four Magento certifications.
To answer your question: Being a developer was kind of predefined for me. My father had introduced me to computers and logical games pretty early. I had always been interested in mathematics and I ended up at the university to get my degrees in Business Information Systems which included quite a lot of developing.
During my career at the university, I was asked by friends if I could help with a couple of projects in the open source content management system TYPO3. I agreed and without my own intention I suddenly was shareholder of a small web agency. Our projects grew and the first small e-commerce projects were done based on extensions for TYPO3 or other systems like os:commerce or Oxid E-Sales which all of us did not really enjoy using.
That was when Magento hit the stage in 2007/2008 and we totally liked it immediately. We started using it for our projects resulting in both successes and failures. In the early Magento times there basically wasn’t any documentation. Every problem had to be debugged in hour-long sessions. Sometimes that resulted in disastrous economic projects but we learned very much and kept on improving. After two years of Magento warm-up time it had become our Go-To product for e-commerce solutions and it still is.
Cloudways: Currently, you are the owner of tienti GmbH since over 8 years. What made you start this company, especially while you were working as a partner of Flagbit GmbH & Co. KG? Share some of your interesting experiences and challenging times while working at tienti GmbH and Flagbit GmbH & Co. KG with our readers. What is the story behind starting tienti GmbH?
Michael: Well, tienti is just a different company I started for my family. It’s not related to Flagbit or e-commerce or Magento. I had started that company since my father didn’t want to be self-employed, so I started a company and now I am his boss, which is kind of cool, isn’t it?
Cloudways: Famous Italian-American world champion racing driver Mario Andretti said: “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” What’s your view about this quote? What’s your tip for young tech business owners? How should they become good leaders? Do you think entrepreneurship is very popular lately?
Michael: That certainly depends on everybody’s goals and preferences. This business certainly is fast-paced. What holds true today, doesn’t have to be right tomorrow. Technologies and ideas get outdated at record speed. If you want to be successful in a tech environment you surely have to think fast, decide fast and be fast.
On the other side you can be fast and safe at the same time (Us Germans, we know what we are talking about when it comes to being safe at 150 mph). Whenever you are trying to be fast in business be it in new technologies or growth you should always have a plan first. What is my goal? How can I reach it? Does it make sense to go for that goal with any means? Do I have the right tools? Being fast without being able to keep the control is not cool but plain stupid.
I honestly don’t know how to become a great leader. I guess one has to work hard, become successful and then try to make others do the same. In Germany there are lots of freelancers and small agencies. So, people might like the idea of being their own boss. On the other hand, there has been a huge change in how people value work overall. Flexibility in work time and location, as well as self-realization have become much more important. Sometimes those values are more related with entrepreneurship than with ordinary employment.
Cloudways: Michael, you have multiple Magento certificates (MCD+, MCFD, MSP). What are your recommendations for those Magento developers who want to become certified developers? What are the advantages of being certified Magento solution specialist? Share your recommended learning certification platform?
Michael: The best preparation for the certifications comes with everyday development work. As stated above, we had to dig very deep into the platform to solve a multitude of problems in our projects. Once you have worked with the platform for over a year or 2, most of the correct answers are pretty obvious.
The existing Magento certification comes with a couple of things that makes it easier to pass the tests. The Frontend certification is the easiest one to pass for most of the persons, since it takes the least amount of domain knowledge and it values a lot of default web development knowledge.
Whether you go for MCD or Solution Specialist first, depends on your special field of work. Another handy fact about the certification is that it’s a multiple choice and you always know how many correct answers you have to choose. So, even if you are not 100% sure right away, most questions can be answered by exclusion of stupid answers.
So we started our preparation right after the certification was announced. We had regular meetings with the team to go through the preparation documents and had a deep dive into all those topics, checked the code, sometimes even had a detailed look at the functionality and then took our shot and luckily everybody passed. Those discussions about the details certainly helped us become better developers.
Being a Solution Specialist doesn’t offer a lot of generic advantages. Sometimes it just helps to show your expertise right away, but while discussing problems and solutions you should be able to make your point, being a Solution Specialist or not. It definitively helped to be a Solution Specialist when I was invited to the Solution Specialist expert round at Meet Magento New York. That was fun and I really thought we had a strong and competent group of experts there.
Cloudways: As a Magento Certified Solution Specialist, what are the most common queries you encounter with Magento store owners? How much do these queries influence the development of the platform? What is your advice for the merchants who want to make their Magento store more smooth?
Michael: As a Solution Specialist and an e-commerce consultant most of my thoughts rotate around how to improve the business of our customers. It’s hard to pin down those queries since that’s really different in all of the projects. My advice for merchants would be to invest in a solid analysis of requirements. Some customers are just trying to fix problems that shouldn’t be fixed in the first place and some ignore the real pain spots and it’s really hard to prioritize your different issues. The bigger the merchant, the more people try to influence such decisions. Keeping those politics out of key decisions is very important.
Cloudways: Magento 2 is now on the market. What are your thoughts on Magento 2? What further features would you love to see in Magento 2? What are your predictions regarding future developments in Magento 2?
Michael: As a matter of fact a software has to reinvent itself to avoid being out-competed by a new contender. It’s important to react to new trends both in the domains of e-commerce and web technology. Magento 2 is Magento’s answer to this problem and I do like it as far as I can see it from today’s perspective. The changes to the architecture were definitely a step in the right direction. We’ll have to see if is enough to fix some major problems in the future.
I don’t know about special features I would like to see. A lot of features that were introduced in the past were hardly ever used in production, I am sure. Magento 2 tries to position itself even more in the enterprise e-commerce segment so the focus should be on what merchants in this market segment need to be more successful. Honestly, Magento always had a couple of needs that weren’t addressed by the software. One example would be real content staging, being able to transfer database information from a stage environment to the production environment. The feature of Magento 1.x Enterprise was simply unusable.
I shouldn’t make any predictions since I have confidential information about projects around Magento 2 in the near future. I can tell you that there are a couple of very promising features in the near future. 🙂
Cloudways: Michael, there are many active Magento groups on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Can you name a few active ones you have joined? How do you connect yourself with the Community? How has your experience been so far with the community members? 🙂
Michael: Honestly, I am not too active in social media groups since most of the times the marketers take over the communication in those groups pretty soon and then you ignore what’s going on since you expect spam most of the time. I like to follow a couple of persons on Twitter that carry most of the community on their shoulders. If you don’t know who to follow then you should have a look at the newest community project by Magento called Magento Masters. Additionally if you are interested in the Magento community you must (!) follow Ben Marks and Sherrie Rohde. And listen to MageTalk. And attend your local Meet Magento event. But please keep in mind: As a Magento community member you are pretty busy.
Cloudways: You were an attendee of MM15NY (Meet Magento New York 2015). In your opinion, what are the advantages of attending the Meet Magento, Magento Imagine and other Magento conferences for amateurs who want to involve themselves in the Magento Community? Which Magento conferences have you attended lately?
Michael: I attended around 10 Meet Magento events in the last couple of years, some of them in Germany, but I was given the opportunity to have a presentation both in New York as well as Madrid last year.
Whenever you are interested in real insights around Magento as a product or as a platform as well as the challenges of being an online merchant then those events are a true hotspot. Magento Imagine is a very nice experience that shows us Europeans the American way of marketing. That indeed helps a lot as well. Additionally, you get in touch with so many different interesting people and their stories. You never run into a situation where you don’t know what to talk about since Magento is the common ground for everybody on those events. And you meet all those Magento stars.
Cloudways: Let’s get aside from Magento and talk about your personal life. I follow you on Facebook and saw some of your pictures from Magerun. Do you like running or are you also just a Mage runner like Brent W.Peterson and Vinai Kopp? Share with our readers some interesting moments from the Magerun event. How do you manage your family life besides work? How was the excitement on being a dad for the second time? 🙂
Michael: I like running. I like running with Brent and Vinai and some more Magento community members even more. Brent made me register for this year’s Berlin marathon. I started pushing my training schedule to a new level after Christmas to prepare for that event in September. Unfortunately, after the German trade show Internet World I have picked up a really annoying flu so I couldn’t go for a run for 3 weeks now. I hope to be in shape for the Imagine Magento Running event. Running around Vegas is a special event every time.
It’s easy to manage family life if you have an amazing family just as myself. My wife supported me in my way as an entrepreneur from the very beginning and I don’t want to miss the happy smile of my daughter whenever I arrive home. So being late is not an option. The birth of my son makes this even better and both of my kids seem to know that sleeping is very important to me since they are both very chilled at night. The excitement in the second round wasn’t as big as the first one, mostly because we didn’t know what to expect when becoming parents for the first time. But we are very happy that Anton is here and he is healthy and his sister Frida loves him too.
Cloudways: We all have some influencers who inspire us to push ourselves in our daily lives. Who is your inspiration? Name some Magento influencers who have inspired you.
Michael: I think we are inspired by everybody around us. Obviously my wife and kids inspire me a lot, my parents and parents in law, everybody in the family. I am influenced a lot by both our amazing team at Flagbit as well as our customers.
In the Magento field I got inspired most by customer projects and persons involved. Persons that come to my mind are Vinai Kopp, Stefan Priebsch, Ben Marks and Brent W. Peterson (he made me register for a marathon!).
Cloudways: Cloudways offers 1-click Magento installation. With blazing fast speed and optimized cloud performance, you get a fabulous experience of hosting your Magento websites on Cloudways cloud platform. I would like you to check it yourself and share your opinion about the platform. What can we do to further improve the outlook and performance of the platform? Any feedback would be welcome.
Michael: Hosting obviously is vital to successful e-commerce, since it provides the needed basis to run the application properly. This includes primary domains like security and performance. Having a solid hosting environment is worth a lot in an ambitious e-commerce project.
I just checked the Cloudways interface out and I really liked it. A lot of merchants simply don’t have the experience to decide about the size of an instance and the number of different options on platforms like AWS is simply overwhelming. Additionally, installing a system like Magento 2 simply isn’t that easy. The auto-installation process takes a lot of complexity out of that process and it worked like a charm when I tried it.
In a production environment, you have a lot of automatic processes to handle system updates. I obviously couldn’t try those out right now, but I am sure you have mechanisms for those things as well. According to the interface you have advanced deployment tools like load tests built in. That sure sounds nice. We’ll give it a try in the near future.