Said Elmarrouani of ArabGento: “It’s Time to Move on Magento 2”

by Cloudways  June 24, 2016

Said has a number of years of experience in development. Currently, he works as the CEO of Ibnab and Arabgento. In this interview, Said talked in detail about his career and the challenges he faced. He said, “I started in design, then developed on Flash, moving to PHP and ending with Symfony and Magento in 2010.”

Interview with Said Elmarrouani

Said also talked in detail about Magento 2 and the features he loves to see in Magento 2. He also talked in detail about Magento extensions. He is the face of Magento in the Middle East. I hope the readers will love this interview with a very experienced Magento developer of good repute.

Cloudways: Said, you’ve been involved with Magento & ecommerce for a quite a long period of time. What challenges did you face initially? How did your career begin?

Said: You’re welcome Wajid. My study was about building on Java, and since 2005 I started to search for what the market is asking. Thank God, I passed through several steps related to my work (freelance companies). I started in design, then developed on Flash, moving to PHP and ending with Symfony and Magento in 2010.

As you know, Magento is a powerful and flexible system. But for all these features, there is a price, the complexity of development. In the beginning, the information about Magento was rare, especially about programming. We have done a lot of work in researching and getting the information from the system itself.

Cloudways: Currently you are the CEO of Ibnab (A great resource for learning about Magento) and Arabgento. What was the reason behind starting Ibnab and Arabgento? Share some interesting memories from the nascent period of Ibnab with our readers 🙂

Said: The reason for creating ARABGENTO was that I felt that we had to create an Arabic community to teach and showcase the product to programmers and general users. Especially, it was to support anyone from the Arab world who was interested in Magento. So we decided to start, and thank God it worked out well. Concerning IBNAB, it’s a project that we had been thinking of creating before ARABGENTO. The idea was to develop an open source program for both local and global audience. It began by focusing on Magento 2 and other platforms like OROCRM .

The most important memories are the hard-work and all-nighters spent trying to understand the secret of Magento 2 in a short time. We got it, because Magento 2 recently has a great range of features for programmers. Then, we launched some free extensions. We found help from the very active community of Magento 2, which collaborated with us sometimes as a learning source, and as programmers. We noticed that owners of Magento 2 are very interested in growing the ecosystem of their product.

Cloudways: Said, Ibnab provides Magento extensions and courses for Magento developers. How do you guys maintain the quality of your products? Share some quality maintenance tips for extension developers who want to sell their creations. Where do you see the Ibnab in the next 5 years?

Said: To support the extensions, one needs to know the views of the users and developers. We regularly observer the comments on IBNAB, Github and other places to resolve the issues. As you know, Magento 2 is a rapidly evolving product. This requires changes and additions from our end as well .

Our recommendation to those who want to develop and sell extensions is to start with small extensions in order to learn the behavior of the Magento 2 system, then grow step-by-step and search what the market is missing, and avoid the competition with the big companies.

Our ambitions at IBNAB is to be the producer in creating open-source technologies in certain domains similar to Magento 2.

Cloudways: Magento is a very popular ecommerce platform. How do you foresee the future of Magento? What functionality improvements are more competitive today, frontend features for customers or backend refinements for Magento admins?

Said: We are noticing a change. Big companies are now transitioning from platforms like ATG COMMERCE to Magento. As a result, we think that large-sized ecommerce projects will be built on the core of Magento 2, even the medium projects will move to Magento 2, especially the Community Edition after the wide availability of themes in the market .

For the refinements that the users and developers are looking for now is extensions for the front-end, but we in IBNAB aim to get the core of Magento 2 better integrated in industries, like telecommunication.

Cloudways: Said, you are ecommerce specialist. Tell us, what are some of the biggest challenges currently facing startups, especially those running their ecommerce websites on Magento?

Said: From the experience we have with our customers, in Magento 1, the bulk of the issues are related to Admin because of the number of clicks and steps required for even simple settings. I think Magento 2 succeeded in resolving that problem by creating an easy admin. The developers need to focus on the speed of the websites. In the arab world, the numbers of the specialists and developers in Magento are rare.

Cloudways: Magento’s ecosystem is built around extensions and modules. Name five of the most important extensions that you cannot dream to live without.

Said: Depending on the Magento store that we create, the five most essential extensions are:

  1. Hacky SMS Notification
  2. Any One Step Checkout
  3. PDF for All by Arabgento
  4. Social Connect by Inchoo
  5. Any Unicode URLs Extension (with support for Arabic language)

Cloudways: What are your thoughts on Magento 2? Do you foresee a total overhaul in Magento’s functionality and infrastructure?  What would be your recommendations for those e-merchants looking to upgrade from 1.x to the new version?

Said: Magento 2 is solid in terms of infrastructure and it will be competitive in large and mid-level projects, especially with the introduction of the new Admin and marketplace features. Besides, the weaknesses of the  old version has been transformed into Magento 2 strong points. For example, the conflict of the extensions.

I think it’s almost time to switch to Magento 2 because of the well designed admin, the unit testing of the website before launch and the upgraded front end that adds to user’s experience..

Cloudways: Let’s put Magento aside and talk about your interests. Do you like sports? How do you find time to manage yourself? Is there any secret that your friends don’t know about you?

Said: I’m not a big fan of sport. I like walking in the forest. I try to make time between prayers and spend times with friends.. A secret my friends don’t know about me is that I’m the founder of Arabic version of Symfony. The reason why my friends don’t know this is because the community is not well known in the Arab world.

Cloudways: How have online communities of Magento fared in bringing people closer, where they can enjoy sharing their ideas? Name ten of the most influential Magento people, who inspired you.

Said: The communities in Magento are strong and greatly help in facilitating communication among the developers in sharing ideas and establishing  rapport. It is a win-win situation. Inchoo, Alan Storm, FireBear Studio and Alan Kent have always inspired us.

Cloudways: Cloudways provides 1-click Magento 1 & Magento 2 installation with fabulous speed of your cloud server on our platform. I would highly appreciate if you can provide some suggestions or feedback about the platform. Don’t hesitate to share your opinions of Cloudways for Magento hosting!

Said: Customers of Cloudways are quite satisfied with the platform. If you want to get big with Magento 2, you need a service that helps you deal with the server related issues such as migration. My suggestion to Cloudways is to concentrate on client relations.

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