If you’re like me, the task of developing an ecommerce site usually begins with a shot, Tylenol and a new keyboard. However, an open source architecture called Magento is making a few developers turn their heads. And, with 500,000+ downloads, there must be something to the buzz Varien is creating.
This store is everything and the kitchen sink. Its feature list and roadmap are comprehensive, It’s a great CMS, their forums are a good source of support, there is a ton of documentation and the Magento Connect utility makes it easy to do upgrades and install plugins. However, if you are really going to take it to the next level, you’d better understand a few things and realize the learning curve that goes along with its customization.
There are many things one has to do to get this store launched. However, here are 6 things to really take into consideration before implementing this store.
Modules, Modules and More Modules
Modules are the heart and soul of this architecture as far as customizing is concerned. You need to be able to create your own and keep the look consistent. However, do not attempt this by yourself right off the bat. There are a ton of files needed to make this work and they are scattered. Use this Module Creator to set up both your frontend and administration areas. Trust me on this!
Skinning can get Messy
There are 6 style sheets and they make good use of CSS. Make sure that you follow their design guidelines for putting everything together. You will be dealing with .XML, .PHP, .PHTML and .CSS files to make everything work. Oh, and you have to create quite a few images depending on your design. They cut it up pretty good!
Templates are Strict
Templates are in the format .PHTML which may be a new letter added to HTML for some of you. These templates are also tied very closely to the XML layouts as well as what they call controller files. You need to make sure that your controller files have the correct functions and are hittin’ the right tables. Fortunately it’s a MySql DB so statements are relatively easy to put together.
Become a Forum Junkie. Syntax Causes Hair Loss
Magento, of course, has its own proprietary logic and it takes a while to get the hang of. Get to know the forums and documentation. There is a ton of great information in there as well as everything else they have to offer such as the wiki, groups, chat and bug tracker. You can also subscribe to support packages which start at $42 a month. However, if you’re like me, that’s a big chunk of your Starbucks budget for the month.
Requirements are a Server’s Worst Nightmare
This store REQURIES the latest and greatest of everything! Check out the list here. They have also compiled a PHP CGI binary for you to use along with instructions for getting yourself running on a windows environment? Have fun with that!
It will come back to you. The community is great and the end result is well worth it.
Time for another shot.