A Walk Through The Vast World of Magento Development

Continuous urge for grabbing the attention of potential consumers has always remained the prime concern of every web-based entrepreneur.

Thanks to the easy availability of e-commerce solutions and services, we have now been successful in informing people about the products and/or services delivered by our business organization. Amongst the vast ocean of e-commerce solutions available in the web market, Magento has emerged as one of the highly recommended solutions for individuals and enterprises which are intending to woo potential buyers in a result-oriented way.

In this post, you’ll be finding a lot more about the ever-growing popularity of Magento and features that make it the number one e-commerce solution for small-scale and large-scale business organizations.

Magento- A fabulous Open Source E-Commerce platform

Serving as world’s most powerful and highly customizable open source e-commerce platform, Magento has been successfully used by online retailers who intend to leverage the features of e-commerce for growing their visibility among the competitors. The open source nature of Magento assures that you need not pay any hefty license fee for downloading the software package. You can do it rightaway without getting into the hassles of investing a lot of money.

A brief on installing Magento on your system

Well, installing Magento is as simple as 1,2,3. All you need to do is simply follow the below steps and you can get Magento up and running on your computer system:

  • Step 1 – Download the Magento Installation package.
  • Step 2 – Upload all the Magento files to your web server.
  • Step 3 – Create a MySQL database that would later be used by Magento.
  • Step 4 – Follow the proceeding instructions on installing Magento and you’re done.

Brushing up Magento Basics is vital for creating a niche in Magento Development

Apart from being one of the most powerful e-commerce platforms, Magento has also been regarded as one of the best object-oriented PHP frameworks that can be well utilized for developing contemporary and dynamic web applications that can further be tapped into Magento powered e-commerce stores.

Code Organization using Magento modules

In Magento, all code is being organized in the form of individual modules. That means, in a typical PHP MVC(Model-View-Controller) application, all Controllers are placed in a single folder with all the models in a different folder. In addition to this, all the files are being grouped together on the basis of their functionality.

Avoid overriding wherever possible

A majority of Magento developers don’t pay much of a heed to the consequences of overriding the .phtml files. The reality is that in order to protect your extensions from conflicts with any of the third-party add-ons, it is quite essential to use the event core_block_abstract_to_html_after for injecting button or any other element into the html. That also means that if you are inclined on adding/removing the logic for checkout.onepage.billing block, all you need to do is simply create your own extension and specify the block class within the xml layout.

Removal of generic blocks from *.phtml files or xml layouts must be avoided

If you require a generic block named as product_additional_data and you feel that you can delete it from the code, make sure not to go ahead with the same. Since Magento’s third-party extensions use generic blocks for injecting their individual blocks, if you tend to delete any one of them, you may end up spending up a lot of time and effort into detecting the reason behind the non-functioning of some particular extensions.

Documenting the code is truly beneficial

As a novice or a professional programmer, make sure to use PHPDoc in all your Magento development projects. With a well-documented code in hand, it becomes easier for you to explore the areas that contain issues. One of the greatest advantages of documenting the code is that you can make it convenient for the future developers to work with your code in a hassle-free way.

Use a cache system for the custom blocks

Magento offers you the flexibility of using a cache system for the custom blocks. This can greatly improve the overall performance of your Magento extensions. In order to enable cache for a particular block, all you need to do is simply use the below code in the block constructor:

class Your_Extension_Block_Blah extends Mage_Core_Block_Template
{
protected function _construct()
{
parent::_construct();
$this->addData(array(
'cache_lifetime' => 34102,
'cache_tags' => array(Mage_Catalog_Model_Product::CACHE_TAG),
));
} 
}
Dispatched events must be used efficiently

Another remarkable way of improving the quality of Magento extensions is using the dispatched events. Dispatcher is basically a Magento integrated system which allows you to set a particular “point” that comprises of a unique name and some mandatory parameters. To put it simply, you can choose to create your individual events and connect the same to some handlers. By having the dispatched events in your Magento extensions, you can grab the opportunity of extending your code in an effective manner. Also, if you are a developer, you can use dispatched events for interacting with your logic in an intelligent way. Here, it is also interesting to learn that events are basically dispatched in controllers and models. You can simply use the below mentioned command in your code to dispatch a particular event:

Mage::dispatchEvent('the_unique_name', array('var' => $data));
Magento is a Configuration-based MVC(Model View Controller)

Well, as a Configuration-based MVC system, Magento allows you to add a new Controller or new model by simply creating the class/file which would automatically be picked by the system. In addition to this, you’ll also be required to explicitly inform the system about the brand new class or the group of classes that you have created. While working with Magento, you need to know that each module comes with a file that’s called config.xml. This file includes all the relevant configuration that’s essential for the smooth functioning of the respective Magento module.

Some noteworthy facts about templates and layout used in Magento

Here, it is interesting to learn that the layout in Magento is maintained in app/design/ with a well-defined structure for default as well as custom theming. Ever since Magento came into existence, it established its theming structure in some high-level areas such as front-end, adminhtml(system administration templates) and installer(templates available for the helper system which automatically configure the e-store. Each Magento theme comes equipped with a folder called ‘layout’ which further contains .xml files that define the block of content for specific controller actions. In such scenarios, the custom Magento theme also includes a folder called ‘locales’ which stores a file called ‘translate.csv’ which includes all the custom translations that have overridden the translations that have already been defined in the standard Magento software version.

Class Naming Conventions need a special mention

Unlike a wide range of open source e-commerce solutions, Magento still applies the basic Zend class naming convention wherein it uses Varien_Autoload::register() for auto-loading the classes via replacement of ‘_’ in the class name by a directory separator.

Basic Practices that have played a crucial role in making Magento a huge success

Magento’s Factory Methods

Magento uses some easy-to-follow factory methods for instantiating helpers, models and blocks. These brilliant methods have been listed below:

Mage::getSingleton('{module}/path to file in model directory')

Above method returns a singleton instance of a class in the Model directory.

Mage::getBlockSingleton('{module}/{path to file in block directory}')

Above method returns a singleton instance of a class in the Block directory once the layout for the controller action has been initialized.

Mage::helper('{module}/{path to file in helper directory}')

Above method returns a singleton instance of a class in the Helper directory.

Mage::getModel('{module}/{path to file in model directory}')

Above method returns an instance of a class in the Model directory.

Mage::getResourceModel('{module}/{path to file in model/resource directory}')

Above method returns an instance of a class in the Model/Resource directory.

Wise management of logic associated with Controllers

Tons of logic included with Magento controllers is perhaps one of the commonly encountered issues with Magento web development. There are tons of logic included within Magento controllers and you can easily view a large group of operations within the same. There are developers who often ignore the importance of using a helper for storing a particular logic or abstract class. This is something that works as an excellent option for extending the logic of the controller. Therefore, if you too are a developer, I recommend you to use a more extendable structure for the common logic within the controller. You shouldn’t opt for hardcoding the logic in the Magento controllers.

Exploring core abstract classes while working with Magento

I recommend you to use and explore the core abstract classes while executing Magento web development projects. For instead of creating your own unique method for checking the status(enabled/disabled) of an extension, it is better to use the isModuleEnabled() from the Mage_Core_Helper_Abstract.

Opt for Magento’s built-in log system for detecting issues in the behavior of your Magento extension

It is always advised to detect issues at a faster rate when it comes to monitoring the behavior of the Magento extension. You can use the below mentioned code for creating and/or using your own log:

Mage::log('There was a bug', null, 'log_filename.log');
Using DB queries profiler for tracking database queries

Magento comes with a default capability for allowing developers to track multiple database queries. You can use the built-in DB resource profiler for inspecting database queries, detecting all the slow functioning queries, detecting the longest query and a lot more. Below is an example that explains the use of D profiler:

$profiler = Mage::getSingleton('core/resource')->getConnection('core_write')->getProfiler();
foreach ($profiler->getQueryProfiles() as $query) {
$queryTime[] = $query->getElapsedSecs(); // Get the query execution time
$queryRaw[] = $query->getQuery(); // Get the query text
}

Using Magento’s CMS Features in an appropriate way is vital

If you’ve chosen Magento as the CMS(Content Management System) for powering your e-store then it’s absolutely essential for you to manage the web pages in the right manner. For this, you can simply click on the ‘Manage Pages’ link provided within the Magento back-end panel. Here, you can choose to edit the content of a page by clicking on the ‘Edit Page’ link available against the page name. The screen-shot for this is shown below:

Edit Page

In addition to the ‘Edit Page’ feature, you can also avail the ‘Static Blocks’ feature which will allow you to edit the footer block which contains all the different links that are typically located towards the bottom of the main page. The screen-shot for this is shown below:

Static Blocks

Finally, there is a ‘Polls’ option which allows you to create and edit polls. The screen-shot for the ‘Polls’ option available within Magento back-end is displayed below:

Polls

Wrapping it all up

With such remarkable assets associated with Magento, it won’t be wrong to say that this e-commerce solution will witness an absolutely stunning growth in its consumer base in the years ahead. So, it’s time for you to embrace Magento for winning customers from all over the world.

Like it? Share it.

One Comment

  1. This explains well. Thanks

Leave a Comment Yourself

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *