Ecommerce Development Industry is quite familiar with Magento eCommerce. Undoubtedly it is a highly popular platform using outstanding modern programming technologies. Given that Magento is such a powerful shopping cart engine with facility to customize, it does requires expert PHP Programming skills. Serious Magento development isn’t for faint hearted. In order to go ahead and build a Magento extension it requires you to dig deeper with sound understanding of PHP Object Oriented Programming to produce an extended Magento functionality following the best practices. Magento developers must work hard to get used to structure of classes on which this ecommerce development application heavily relies on. You must also have good understanding of abstraction layer as most of the data in Magento is defined in abstract XML. Practice and experience is the only way you’ll get familiar to this.
What we intend to bring you through this article are some basic Technical Skills a good Magento Developer needs to posses and some tips which are actually standards which a good Magento Developer should follow during Magento extensions development.
Most of the customization in ecommerce sites is required in larger sites. You need to be able to think of bigger picture coding defensively. Magento is based on Zend Framework. It’s a good idea to spend some time understanding the fundamentals of Zend and having knowledge of MVC structure. Most of the Magento Development companies these days would look out for PHP programmers with sound knowledge of MYSQL, OOPs, LAMP, PHP Design Patterns, AJAX, jQuery, HTML5, CSS3, and Version Control like SVN or Git and also about SEO.
Although you are likely to come across various tips, we compile here some of the best Magento extension development practices a good Magento developer should follow:
Never Make Modifications in the Core Magento Code
It’s against the best practice to make modifications in Core Magento files while doing customization. Rather make your own extension file to do necessary modifications. It’s best to use either helpers or event-listeners, or extend but not override the core classes. This practice will help you from errors when future versions of Magento are upgraded and also from third party code conflicts. Even if you have to made changes temporarily in app/code/local/Mage you must not forget to restore the original code.
Avoid xml layouts or *.phtml generic blocks removal
It’s a usual practice by Magento extension developers use generic blocks where their own code blocks are located. If ever these are deleted it will be much time consuming effort to find the issues and get the extensions work.
Comment the Code
Brief documentations explaining the code is always useful. It actually helps other programmers who may have to get involved in future to understand your code easily. Using PHP Doc efficiently is a sign of a good PHP Programmers and eventually a good Magento Developer.
Use Abstract Classes for status of Magento Extensions
Many self taught Magento developers would come up with their own ways to find whether their extension is enabled or disabled. It’s best to use isModuleEnabled() fromMage_Core_Helper_Abstract
Preferably use Magento generic CSS mostly
This is one of the most important front end Magento development best practices. Magento default installation comprises of thousands of CSS Classes. When creating a new template, those class names should be used in the new template. Most of the third party extensions utilize those class names during design integration.
Efficient Use of Cache
Efficient usage of Cache system highly boosts your extensions performance. Magento offers flexibility to use cache separately for custom blocks.
Check loading time with the help of Magento built in profiler
This is especially for Magento development purpose that you can check loading time at the bottom of every page for separate parts.
Extension behaviour log
Logs usually helps and makes it extremely easy to find the issues quickly.
XML layouts should be used for implementing extended functionality
There is a facility in Magento for making different actions in XML files. Most of us know that it is very much possible to integrate extension block anywhere in design however efficiently use XML to call different methods.
Integrated Development Environment – IDE
Numerous IDE are available which you can use for faster and efficient Magento development. Just go for the best whichever best suits you. It has several advantages. Abstract and Parent classes can be inspected faster as inheritance inspection is supported by most of the IDEs. Many well known ones will already have debugger. This really saves lot of time. In many modern IDEs you wil come across deployment management, support for version control, checking syntax, smart snippets, project management etc. This is extremely useful. It’s worth to find an IDE to feel most convenient to use.
There is a lot more to dig into for best Magento ecommerce development. One recent resource we came across worth investing time and money is “Magento PHP Developers Guide”
There is something more which actually adds an ice on the cake to become a perfect Magento Developer. It’s an overall attitude with efficient communication. You must be quick with code, technically sound, have solution oriented attitude with passion for customer service. Remember that what you do in Magento development is actually for a non technical person. Always produce results which make life of end user easy to use the functionality you develop very easily.
Please feel free to put your comments if you anything better to share with us about efficient Magento development practice and what values and skills a good Magento developer should have.