Today, I am happy to bring to you a true Magento maverick. It’s none other than Dave Macaulay. He is currently working as a Senior Magento Developer at Gene Commerce. Dave is a passionate web developer with a huge interest in the ever-changing world. He has 4 years of experience in Magento and has several certifications to back it all.
So without further ado, here’s my interview with Dave.
Syed Muneeb: Dave Macaulay, thank you for giving us your precious time. Please introduce yourself and tell us about your career.
Dave Macaulay: Hey, thanks for this opportunity to have a quick chat about my career. I’m Dave from Brighton, UK. I’m 22 and I’ve been developing with Magento for 4 years.
My career started out of finding an amazing apprenticeship position with Gene Commerce’s current director Matt Parkinson when I was 17. Shortly after I finished my apprenticeship with Matt, he gave me the amazing opportunity to start up Gene with a couple of my previous colleagues. As co-founder of Gene, it enabled me to put my personal stamp on our processes and work.
During this process, I found a real passion for building ecommerce stores. I’ve built the official Braintree extension for Magento 1, the first Apple Pay extension for Magento, and I was the lead developer on BlueFootCMS product which was recently acquired by Magento and is (going) to be included in the Magento core (files). Since the acquisition, I’ve been closely working with Magento to implement BlueFoot into a future Magento release.
Muneeb: You are currently a Senior Magento Developer at Gene Commerce. How did you discover Magento? What challenges did you face initially and how did you tackle them?
Dave: I discovered Magento through my colleagues. They were already using it for a number of other projects, and I loved the extensibility and the community behind it. It was certainly a challenge learning the ins-and-outs of the Magento platform, but it was incredibly rewarding being able to grasp all of the concepts and build some interesting features for some huge clients.
Muneeb: What differentiates Magento from other ecommerce platforms? How would you compare Magento with other ecommerce store creation software?
Dave: I think the two main key differentiators which have excelled Magento above their competition are the community and the sheer number of quality extensions. Both make building highly customized Magento stores a pleasure. Having so many experienced developers willing to help when you run into a problem is such an amazing experience. You’re literally one Stack Exchange post away from a number of talented Magento developers.
The ability to drop extensions into the Magento platform and the underlying architecture allowing these modules just to work are amazing. Telling a merchant they can have important functionality in a very short timeframe since it’s already been built by another team is a huge advantage over other platforms.
Muneeb: You have several Magento certifications. Tell our readers about the impact of these certifications on your career and how important they are for Magento developers.
Dave: The certification program Magento offers is amazing. It allowed me to prove to myself and my team at Gene that I knew Magento and confirmed that my implementation was in line with Magento’s core development principles. I must also mention how Gene enabled me to take all these exams and provided time for revision alongside the financials needed to take these exams.
It also proves to our merchants and extension users that they are in very capable hands and that we knew what we were doing. Gene strived to get all their developers Magento certified as it is recognized industry wide.
Muneeb: What is your opinion on Magento 2? Does this new version give Magento users a competing edge in the ecommerce industry? Will it be able to compete with Shopify and WooCommerce?
Dave: I think Magento 2 is a huge step in the right direction. Magento’s team has shown a huge commitment to fixing bugs and improving Magento 2 since it’s release. I believe their recent acquisition of our BlueFootCMS product is another massive step in competing with Shopify and WooCommerce. Aligning their usability of their ecommerce suite with an easy-to-use page builder gives them all the functionality of Shopify but with the advantage of being open source and having a huge community.
Muneeb: What advice do you want to give to our readers about learning Magento? Should Magento newbies also learn other technologies?
Dave: I’d say the most important thing is never to give up. There’s a huge possibility that the issue you’re facing has already been tackled by a number of other developers. Do some research and see if anyone has shared their solution in an article or on a Stack Exchange post.
If you’re unable to find any existing information, there are so many public communities who will be able to guide you in the right direction. Everyone had to learn it at some point, and the community is great at giving back to those who are starting on that adventure.
Muneeb: What do you like about your job the most? What makes your office so special for you?
Dave: There are so many reasons why I love working with Gene. I think firstly it has to be our office culture. We all communicate amazingly well; having fun while doing serious work and meeting our deadlines. I think having this environment where you can have fun while still being an incredibly focused workforce is invaluable. This combined with some huge clients makes a great working environment.
As I mentioned previously, Gene facilitating any form of certification, training, and conferences gives everyone the opportunity to (make) themselves (better) and get the recognition that they’re doing things right. It’s amazing when we discuss all of the amazing knowledge we pick up when we go on these adventures.
The thing I love the most has to be the freedom to do things differently.
I’m by no means an orthodox programmer because I like to bend and break the rules as much as possible to create the best final product possible. I don’t tend to take the scope of work and get stuck in straight away; I like to take the high-level request and evolve it into something better for the client and most importantly, I like to make it more challenging and interesting for me to write myself. This is something I see as the core reason why Gene has been so successful!
Muneeb: How do you spend your free-time? Do you like playing games, watching movies, and hanging out with friends?
Dave: I still do a lot of programming outside of my day job because it’s my original hobby and I’m so passionate about pushing the boundaries of what I’m learning and writing. However, this can cause some burnout, and it’s really important to relax and get away from code from time to time.
So, I trade one screen for another. When I’m not at a desk, I’m glued to my PS4 or PC playing various titles with friends.
Muneeb: Please tell our readers about your typical day at work. How do you manage your work-life balance?
Dave: My typical work day consists of getting into the office at 9, responding to any emails and determining my work for the day. Fifteen minutes later, the team gets together and has our morning scrum where we discuss our work and any challenges we foresee with our work. Once everyone is on the same page, we break off into any scheduled meetings. Then it’s down to work. I load up PHPStorm and get my teeth stuck into my work for the day.
Our office culture is great, and the team will typically eat lunch together in the office. People have their different food preferences, so people run out to grab any ingredients or prepared food they desire. Then we sit around our communal “lunch table” (which has many other uses than just lunch, typically you’ll find meetings here, or people using it as a hot desk).
Once lunch is over it’s back to work; however, it’s not uncommon for us to break away into groups to debug code or support one another with their work. The day officially ends at 5:30 pm; however, it’s not uncommon for most the team to work through just because they love what they do, or because we need to ensure we meet our deadlines.
When I eventually leave, I have a lovely walk home through Brighton where I’m greeted by my lovely girlfriend. We’ll typically turn on the gaming consoles or break out a board game and relax the evening away.
Muneeb: Do you attend Magento community events? Who are the people in Magento community that have inspired you the most?
Dave: I’ve been to both Magento Live UK and Magento Imagine. They were both great experiences, and I met loads of great people who are such important parts of the community. I’d really recommend anyone who hasn’t attended these events to go this year and soak up the wonders of the community.
I’d say Alan Storm has been the most influential to me on my journey. He’s written numerous in-depth articles into various parts of Magento that have proved to be so important for my learning. I also admire his giving back to the community with his articles.
Muneeb: Who would you like to be interviewed next on Magenticians? You can recommend your friends or people who have notable contributions to the Magento Community.
Dave: I’ve always looked up to my MD Matt Parkinson. He’s a great guy with great knowledge in the ecommerce space. I think he could provide really good insight into what it’s like working with PayPal, Braintree, and Magento.