Since we at Magenticians aim to bring Magento experts closer to our audience, we are back with another influential Magento personality, Colin Tickle. He is currently working as a Technical Director at Two Jay. He is 4x Magento Certified and has a long relationship with Magento.
Without taking any more of your time, let’s start the interview!
Muneeb: Let’s start with your career highlights. What challenges you faced at the start of your career and how did you resolve them?
Colin: I started my career as a Technical Support Engineer and taught myself software development so I could automate repetitive tasks. It wasn’t always easy to get buy-in from the business to allow a support guy to do the development team’s work. Ultimately the value of the toolset I was creating outweighed the political issues. I worked with the development team to ensure my code quality was acceptable and the business was better for it.
That’s been a common theme in my career, identify a need, prove the concept with MVP, get backing from the relevant parties and then build upon the concept.
The challenges for me usually lead to the highlights. There’s nothing more fulfilling than to solve a complex problem or to help someone else do the same.
Muneeb: Why choose Magento when there are so many great ecommerce platforms out there?
Colin: My first Magento project had a very short deadline and I had only built one e-commerce site previously (in osCommerce). I investigated the options available and decided which I thought were realistic given the timeframe. Magento seemed like a solid choice: there were specialist web hosts, themes to make the site a bit more individual, a solid online community to help with learning the platform and partners to turn to if it all got too much.
This decision has served me well and I continue to enjoy the challenges and opportunities that working with Magento provides.
Muneeb: What value have Magento certificates added to your career? Do you think certifications help the developers and employers? Could you list some resources for acing the certification?
Colin: I think certification, in any subject, shows an amount of commitment to the subject matter. Magento, in particularly complex/high traffic implementations, is really easy to get wrong. So, if I see a certification on a job application it makes me think that there’s a chance the developer has aligned their career to the platform sufficiently to be aware of the pitfalls. I imagine others have a similar viewpoint and certification, therefore, adds a degree of credibility to certified developers and the companies who employ them.
On a personal level, I enjoy the challenge of achieving all the certifications, especially those on the fringes of my core skillset.
The resources I have used/am using to prepare for the next set of exams (in Magento 2) are:
- The study guides: Free Study Guide
- The Magento online courses: Magento Store Developer Training From Magento U
- Sergii Ivashchenko’s course: Mastering Magento 2 [Video]
- Familiarisation with a demo install of the software (at a code level, frontend, and admin).
All topped up with help from my friends in the community to review and enhance my knowledge.
Muneeb: What are the best practices that developers should keep in mind when writing Magento code?
Colin: Uncle Bob’s Clean Code is a great (if at times surreal) guide to writing readable and maintainable code. Trying to stick to the parameters taught there is a good start.
Some of the common performance errors and how to avoid them are documented in this PDF.
Beyond that, I am a firm believer in the code review process as a way of sharing and building knowledge. It’s a tricky thing to get right and relies on good communication as nobody likes to think they’re doing things wrong but it’s worth the effort.
Muneeb: What is personal workflow? What tools do you use/prefer?
Colin: For some time now I’ve used Git of one variety or another and a variation on Gitflow as the branching strategy, PHPStorm as my IDE and Docker for creating development environments. As I try to force myself to step away from the development side of things I’m using the Google suite of tools more as I like the collaboration facilities they offer.
Muneeb: How would you differentiate Magento 1 and Magento 2? What would be your suggestion for Magento 1 users?
Colin: Magento 2 is a much more modern codebase and is still evolving. It’s great to see the core and community teams working together to improve the code base and functionality. The increased flexibility, unfortunately, brings with it increased complexity. However, sufficient similarity exists in the code that Magento 1 developers should be able to navigate their way around relatively easily. The main ‘gotcha’ I’ve experienced is that you can’t use the core as a guide for best practice implementation.
My advice would be to make use of the documentation and online resources which are available. If necessary, use the study guides and exams as a structure to transition your skills. Having said that I think there will be a need for Magento 1 skills for a few years yet, so don’t feel overly pressured.
Muneeb: Who inspired you in your personal and professional lives?
Colin: I’m not going to call anyone out by name as I’d miss someone important. Everyone I’ve ever worked with has, in some way or another, shaped who I am and who I hope to become. Ultimately the drive and desire to grow and constantly improve comes from within me. Having a family to provide for and to support me through everything is the fuel that makes it possible.
Muneeb: How do you enjoy your free time. What are your hobbies?
Colin: I like to switch off and let my brain wind down… trashy TV, action films, maybe listen to a podcast or some music. When the weather is better (usually about 2 weeks in August as I live near Manchester, UK) I like to go camping with family and friends.
Muneeb: Now it’s time for a Rapid Fire!
Rule: You can’t spend more than 15 seconds on this question ;)
|Shopify or PrestaShop?||I’ve yet to experience either first hand.|
|Movies or Games?||Movies|
|Travelling or Party?||Travelling (preferably there’ll be a party whilst I’m there)|
|Tea or Coffee?||Coffee|
|PlayStation or Xbox?||Xbox|
Muneeb: It’s been a great interview and I hope you have enjoyed it too :) Lastly, who would you like to be interviewed next on Magenticians?
Colin: Zac Stevens from Akoova.
Muneeb: Please share a picture of your workplace with our readers?
Colin: I’ve just started a new role and we’re based in WeWork, Manchester. It’s a great place full of new people to meet and there’s always something going on which gives the place a bit of atmosphere.
Here’s what Colin has to say at the end of the interview:
I appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed by Magenticians and the exposure it will bring. It’s great that someone is making the effort to air the opinions of professionals in the community.