“I believe that when you cover the needs of people and make their lives easier, your chances of success become high.” – Raúl E Watson
Raúl E Watson is a well-known Certified Magento Professional. He is currently associated with Space48, a prolific Magento development agency based out of United Kingdom (UK). He has more than ten years of experience under his belt and has worked on some fantastic award-winning ecommerce projects.
We interviewed him to know about the latest developments in Magento and his approach towards ecommerce store development. Let’s learn what he has to say about his experiences.
Over to Raúl.
Cloudways: Raúl, share something about yourself with the readers. How did you get started with Magento?
Raúl: I think everything began around mid-2010, I was working as a freelance web developer back then, and a customer asked me to quote an ecommerce project. He didn’t specify any platform or system, so I started to search for the best open source ecommerce platform on the internet and ended up choosing Magento because it was flexible and allowed me to escalate things.
I had so much fun working on that project that I decided to make an ecommerce site of my own. I registered a company and spent a year or so learning and customizing that Magento site to sell perfumes.
Not need to say, I didn’t sell too many perfumes, but I learned a lot about Magento and soon started accepting job offers related to its development.
Cloudways: I believe you have developed a lot of Magento modules and tested even more. According to you, what makes a module successful?
Raúl: I believe that when you cover the needs of people or make their lives easier, your chances of success become high. This can also be applied to Magento modules. For example, modules that either provide functionalities not available with Magento out-of-the-box or that enhance the features already there, are very successful.
If you also follow good development practices, keep code clean, and listen to users feedback, I believe chances of your success are even higher.
Cloudways: How does module development differ for Magento 1 and Magento 2? Do you think Magento 2 modules are more powerful and versatile?
Raúl: I would not say they are more or less powerful since you can do pretty much anything in Magento 2 and Magento 1, but in my opinion, the code is now better organized and favors good practices like ‘SOLID,’ composition over inheritance, and similar others.
Also, we now have access to many cool features and tools present in most of the modern frameworks, such as composer, tests, coding standards, CLI commands, etc. All those things and more come with Magento 2 out-of-the-box.
I especially like having all the files of my modules in one place – something we didn’t have in Magento 1.
Cloudways: How much effort is involved in converting an idea into a Magento module? Which module offers the most challenge?
Raúl: Development is hard when requirements are not 100 percent clear or when you don’t have a clear path to achieve what you need to.
A more recent example I can think of was a module that allows merchants to limit the number of backorders. In this case, the requirement was pretty simple, no doubt with that, but in order to achieve such functionality you have to change a lot of components in Magento 2, and I was not aware of that when I started building that module.
Cloudways: Do you have any must-follow development practices? On a typical workday, what tools do you use to make your development cycle easier?
Raúl: The best development practices that I can recommend to any developer out there is to planify your module development as early as possible.Ask yourself: How should your module work? What would be the best way to build such functionality without breaking some other modules or the upgradability of the platform? Is this something you can reuse in another project? How can you actually test that it works as expected? Is your code readable and easy to understand? Bear in mind that you or someone else will need to come back to it in the future so do not overcomplicate things. Make your life, and everybody’s else easier.
I have some friends who say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I prefer to say, “always try to leave this world a little better than you found it.” If you find a mess on the ground, you clean it up regardless of who might have made the mess. By doing that you will be not just helping yourself but others as well.
Regarding tools, I keep testing and adding to my toolbox the ones that I consider the best. Right now, the ones I have in my toolbox are:
- PHPCS with Magento EQP
Cloudways: What is the future of Magento 2? What is your advice to merchants who are still on Magento 1?
Raúl: The future present is Magento 2. I think everybody is aware of that now. I understand that an ecommerce owner would think, “Oh we have invested all this time and money to get to where we are, and now we need to migrate to Magento 2.”
I would say to them, don’t migrate yet if you don’t need to, but keep in mind that Magento 2 comes with nice performance improvements. It officially supports latest PHP versions with new security fixes and improvements that directly affect web store’s performance. Magento 1 is still popular, and consequently, it will be supported by Magento until November 2018. Of course, the support is mostly related to security patches and necessary fixes, no new features or improvements are coming for Magento 1 anymore. All Magento’s workforce and the community is now concentrated on Magento 2 development.
Cloudways: What is the impact of Magento Certification on the career path of a Magento developer? Do you think getting certified is worth the money?
Raúl: I think it is. You don’t only get a piece of paper that says you are X or Y, but the knowledge you gain by preparing to pass the exams also help your career progress faster.
Personally speaking, I have learned a lot by preparing myself for the Magento certifications.
Cloudways: Raúl, what would your advice be for the developers/agencies who provide Magento development services?
Raúl: Sometimes, especially in conferences, I see developers afraid of migrating to Magento 2. They are so scared of learning new things or using different tools. In fact, they are afraid of updating their IDEs or OSs because the new version will come with options that they don’t know how to use and therefore will waste time learning them.
I think we all fear the change in one way or another, as we are all humans. What we don’t know tends to scare us. And change creates a lot of things we don’t know. But with preparation, contingency planning, testing, and metrics, you’ll find that bringing about change is far more comfortable than you thought.
Cloudways: Name some people who inspired you and kept you motivated in your personal and professional life?
Raúl: Definitely, my partner, Sara, she keeps me inspired and motivated every day and my ex-colleagues and friends at Interactiv4, the agency I used to work for. Also, my current colleagues and team at Space48 and people in the Magento Community such as Vinai Kopp, Ivan Chepurnyi, Alexander Stadnitski have been an excellent source of inspiration and motivation for me.
But the ones who have inspired me the most are Napoleon Hill, an American journalist and self-help book author, and the William Ernest Henley, who was an English poet at the end of the nineteenth century beginning of twentieth.
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?
Raúl: Shared hosting is cheaper but limited. I think cloud hosting and dedicated servers like Cloudways are the best infrastructures for Magento.
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Fayyaz, a passionate Motorbike tourist, works as a Team Lead — Magento Community at Cloudways - A Managed Magento Hosting Platform. His objective is to learn & share about PHP & Magento Development in Community. You can contact him at [email protected]