It’s been a long time since I have last written to my blog, it’s also longer when I have last written about Magento, the most complex, hardly understood behemoth of the PHP E-Commerce solutions. It seems that my blogs about Magento was pretty helpful for people around here and I was surprised when I’m contacted by someone from Packt Publishing about reviewing a book they had published: Magento Beginner’s Guide. You can buy directly from the publisher with additional benefits. They sent me the book and I had the time to review it because I started again to developing with Magento, a simple module which will enable to connect to banks in Turkey. And after a long pause, I was sure that this book would be a great start to find out what I missed during the my pause, how the documentation evolved and things that I was never been able to figure out. Seems like I was not wrong.
Before we get into the details of the review, let me clarify something, this book won’t make you a great developer for Magento. It’s a beginner’s guide and book really means it. Honestly, it’s an absolute beginner’s guide to the Magento Galaxy. So if you are a developer who wants to get things going, this may not be the book you are looking for even this one is a great cookbook with lots of how tos. However if you are a developer or someone who wants to set up a magento store as fast as you can, you don’t need to look any further. Just grab the book, open the first page and until the end of the week your magento store will be up and running. I, personally, don’t want a book which gives me the fish but teach me how to fish. So it seems I have to write a book too, even it’s name is ready: How To Survive Magento: How I have became bald between 230+ MySQL tables and 100k+ lines of code :)
But don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to say that this book won’t teach you anything. It will definitely show you a lot of great things which you don’t probably know but it won’t explain you why he has opened the file named \app\design\frontend\default\default\
template\callouts and let you think that God showed him the way! (Well I know some of the files are obvious why they are opened, but when I explain it, I was really trying to explain why I did what and I was trying to explain that it was not God’s hand that directed me to that file but my instincts. I tried to explain how my instincts worked, because I was an absolute beginner and did not know where to look and lost between the file system:)
Besides being a good cookbook, it also explains thoroughly what is the relation with products (grouped or configurable or standard), taxes, discounts and payment. When looked in the chapters everything is set in a good sequence and you should go chapter by chapter to not miss anything or to not go back to the pages to find the thing that mentioned. This is a good way, because you know that everything you are doing means something and is not just a “Hello World” application which you will throw away once you have written.
Book is written by William Rice, a really great guy, he begins the book with the setting up of the development/production environment and goes on to setting up tax rates and other kinds of some complex info in the book. The best part of the book, is the sequence. By following it chapter by chapter, with lots of descriptive images, you can setup a magento store.
I can really suggest this book to every developer who is trying to figure out how are these taxes are handled and “where is the damn product detail page, I can’t take the picture from left to right“. Even if it looks meaningless for you to find out how are taxes and discounts are handled as they are bundled with Magento, this will be a problem for your customer or the user. You must notice that first of all, user will ask you how are these things are handled and you can’t generally say them RTFM (or just say them to read this book:)! So you have to know some basics and explain them.
Last thoughts: This is a great book if you want to setup a new Magento store and want to find out the basics on how a product is created, how are payments and orders are processed, what’s a category and attribute, what kind of taxes there are, what a currency is, how paypal can be used for payments, etc… But it won’t help you to create your own module for Magento (Which I was expecting to see but I suppose this is a topic for the Experts Guide:). It will give you the hints and remind you how it can be done but anything else, you have to find out yourself.