Raphaël Petrini is one of the most competent Magento Developer & an Entrepreneur by heart. He is the Founder of Digital Pianism and also have a passion for developing different Magento Modules. He always tries to deliver the best and quality work, that is usually more than expectations.
Raphaël loves discovering different ways to improve and enhance coding practices and development environment. He loves reading books and listening to music. In this interview with Cloudways, he talks about how Magento 2 is going to change the landscape of ecommerce and discusses how he likes keeping a balance between his work and personal life. I enjoyed conducting Raphaël’s interview and I am sure, you are going to enjoy reading it.
Cloudways: Raphaël, you are the Founder and Entrepreneur of Digital Pianism. For the last seven years, you have achieved great success. Also, you are a Magento Certified Developer. How would you define your success? What challenges did you face during all these years and how did you tackle them?
Raphaël: Well, I guess success is mostly a state of mind, like wealth. To me, I always told myself that if you want something bad, you have to work hard. Hard work is the key to success in my opinion, but don’t misread, don’t kill yourself working, find a balance between your job, your family and yourself, and I reckon you’ll be successful. I reckon I faced many challenges during all these years; the most important for me was leaving my native country, France, to study and work abroad, in Australia. That was the biggest challenge I faced but also was the best decision I’ve ever taken in my life. To tackle challenges, you must accept the fact that you can fail and don’t stress yourself too much, that is my way of thinking.
Cloudways: How did you connect yourself with Magento? What is the main reason for choosing Magento? You worked as a web developer before, and you have many years of experience in the relevant field. What are the common issues that you overlooked when you turned your face towards Magento? Also, share some tips with our readers regarding project handling.
Raphaël: First, I did not choose Magento; someone did it for me. Let me give you a bit of a background: when I finished my studies in France and before leaving for Australia, I did an internship in a web agency. My studies were about computing in general so I studied different kinds of programming languages like C, C++, Java, PHP, HTML, etc…but I liked web development because you were able to see something out of your development very early. Like open notepad, type TestHello World, open in your browser and that’s it, you can already see something. Whereas I had the feeling when developing software in C++ or Java, it was taking ages to get a visual overview of your development. When I started my internship in this agency, the people who were working here told me “Oh, there’s this Magento software that we would like to try for this project, could you set it up and start making modifications for us?”. I have to tell you, it took me two days of work to install it on my machine, I had no knowledge in CMS installation, and I was desperately searching for an .exe file to install it. ^.^
Regarding the common issues, I went through a lot. However, as far as I remember, the most painful one was upgrading Magento back in the days. I remember I had to upgrade a Magento from 1.4 to 1.8, and it was such a pain, gave me nightmares. Fortunately, it is easier now as Magento has become stable for the last couple of years.
Tips regarding project handling: Try to follow Magento development good practices (use of local.xml and event observers are two good examples) and your project will thank you later. Also, use the tools Magento community provides, like the awesome Alan Storm’s CommerceBug extension, Magicento for PHPStorm and N98-magerun to mention a few.
Cloudways: “I love life and the challenges it gives us. Always willing to help and fix people’s issues. Looking for new opportunities every day.” Are these only words to you, or they have some real connection with your career history? How would you define these words according to your professional life?
Raphaël: Those words do not have a real connection with my career history; it just reflects my way of living and thinking. I love challenges, and I know many people who are scared of challenges and that stops them from having new experiences. Try and fail but do not fail to try, that is my point of view. I apply those words in both my personal and professional life, taking risks is part of the beauty of life, right? Regarding helping people I always liked the feeling you have when you managed to help people, I reckon I could have been a surgeon. ^.^
Cloudways: Ecommerce trend is growing day by day and with the release of Magento 2 last year, the ecommerce landscape is to be shaken up again. As someone who keeps a close eye on upcoming trends, what impact do you think Magento 2 will have on ecommerce industry?
Raphaël: First, I am really excited about Magento 2. To be honest, I have not worked a lot with Magento 2 yet, and I am still learning it. I’ve recently passed the Magento U Fundamentals of Magento 2 online course, and it was great. I learned tons of stuff, and I appreciate Magento team providing resources like this so early so that developers like me can cover the new concepts of Magento 2 easily. From what I’ve seen, I reckon Magento 2 will have a huge impact on the ecommerce industry for several reasons. First, performance wise, Magento 2 is compatible with PHP7 and implementing Full Page Caching on the community edition is a great plus. From a developer’s perspective, I feel like M2 looks more complex at first sight (especially for developers coming from M1) but you get used to it quickly, and it is going to be easier for us developers to create extensions and develop functionalities without breaking compatibility with upgrades or other modules.
Cloudways: Just because of poor development, Magento stores sometimes become vulnerable to serious security threats such as credit card misuse, information leak, etc. How can online businesses secure themselves from the hackers?
Raphaël: Get in touch with the Magento news like subscribe to the Magento newsletter, follow their twitter account. Once a patch is released, you’ll get notified as soon as it is out so you can patch your store as soon as possible. I also recommend using the great magereport.com website to check if your Magento stores are vulnerable. Last advice, always apply patches as soon as possible and don’t wait for years when several patches are out to apply the patches.
Cloudways: As the Founder of an ecommerce based agency, you must have an idea about the problems online businesses are facing during their initial years after the launch. Give some tips on how to start a successful online business and sustain its sales?
Raphaël: I reckon the most important tip I can give is more of a global advice for any business, not especially online businesses: study the market. Really, do it. People always feel like they do not have to, but I’ve seen many businesses failed because they had not studied their market. As I said before, failing to do something is not important, trying is; but if you have the possibility to avoid failing, you should take that opportunity. Studying the market can be painful and most of the time you have to pay for it but trust me it is worth doing it.
Cloudways: I found you very active on Magento StackExchange. In your opinion, is StackExchange the best place for a developer to build a name in the community? How good a Magento Developer can learn from participating in Magento StackExchange? What are the key points to keep in mind while developing a Magento Module?
Raphaël: I’ve only started being active recently; I’ve been lurking for years but in 2016 I felt like I had to give back everything the community gave me during those five years working with Magento, so I am a newbie here. I am not here to build a name in the community, but I reckon if you provide good answers, and you are helpful with the community, people get to know you are a trustable developer. To be honest, since I started being active on StackExchange (for the last four months or so), I feel like I have learned more than during the entire year. There’re so many good questions and with the release of Magento 2, there’re so many new things to learn that I feel like people who want to learn Magento should jump on StackExchange. They do not need to post questions and answers but just going through the Q&A; you learn a lot.
Developing a Magento Module, well, it depends on what you want to do with it. If you are planning to release it to the community, make sure it is compatible with most of the Magento versions. Also, ensure you take care of security. Moreover, follow good practices, I suggest you check the answers of this tweet of Max Pronko; it lists pretty much every good practice that makes a module great.
Cloudways: Security, Performance, Optimization & Speed are the most important components for any ecommerce website. Do you believe web hosting plays the main role on this? Share some magento performance optimization tips with our readers.
Raphaël: Web hosting is an important player for an ecommerce website. Take some time to choose your web hosting company before launching your online business, whether you are using Magento or not. Having to migrate a website is painful for both your sales and your developers.
Regarding performance optimization tips, I reckon you should check this great article that lists the five most common Magento development mistakes that slow down your web store. I loved that article when I discovered it, and it helped me improved my development.
Cloudways: What are your thoughts about Magento based events like Meet Magento, Magento Imagine Commerce or Magento Developers Paradise? Are these events a good source of encouragement for newbies and do they get much exposure through these? Did you plan to attend such events in the future?
Raphaël: Shame on me, I never went to any Magento based events. I wanted to go to Magento Live France earlier this year; I missed it, and now I regret it. I reckon that is a great thing, now that I get more and more involved in the community, I feel like I should attend at least one Magento event per year at least to meet the people in real life.
Cloudways: What are your suggestions for newbies who want to learn Magento? Would you recommend few useful platforms for Magento tutorials & training?
Raphaël: Flush the cache! Haha just kidding. 😀 Magento takes the time to master. First, you should use the resources available on the Magento website to start with. If you want to learn, first start with theme development, try to modify a theme, change the layout (use local.xml 😉 ), disable features, etc. Then start developing your first module. There’re so many resources out there, one of my favorites is Alan Storm’s website, he provides great explanations and examples to illustrate the concepts he studies. Moreover, feel free to jump on StackExchange and the official Magento forums, people will help you. 🙂
Cloudways: What do you like to do on the weekends? How do you spend your free time besides the work? What are your favorite sports?
Raphaël: I love having good times with my girlfriend and my son (the second one is currently in the development branch. ^.^) Inviting friends, having a barbecue outside when it is sunny and hot, I love that. I never bring work at home; I love having my personal life, and my professional life separated. I think that is important to me. During my free time, I play Futsal (indoor soccer) in a club, and I love snowboarding in winter. I love the sports as long as you do not ask me to run in circles for an hour. I also read many books, especially Sci Fi. I just love life =)
Cloudways: Everyone has some inspiration behind his or her success. What are the motivating influences that kept you moving all these years?
Raphaël: There’s so many of them I do not know which one to choose. I remember I read this book called “The Secret” several years ago when I was still studying, and it shifted my mind. It made me realize that you are the one deciding in your life and you can do whatever you want as long as you believe in it and you never give up.
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?
Raphaël: I reckon that depends on the store size. I’ll go for a cloud hosting environment for big stores, but I must admit I’ve installed a few small size Magento stores in the past on shared hosting, and it went fine. As I said before, choose your hosting company with care.