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April 2, 2015

An interview with Vinai Kopp


Every 6 week’s we’re lucky enough to undergo frequent developer training with Magento superstar, Vinai Kopp. Vinai spends a couple of days at a time offering intensive back end and more recently front end training, to a number of our developers.

During their last session they mainly focussed on indexing, controlling caching and site speed in particular using the MView technique. Our developers all have their own niche in Magento and different levels of experience and qualifications but all thoroughly enjoy learning from Vinai.

Just before Vinai left for the airport, I managed to have a quick chat with him. It was great to see him again after meeting last November at the inaugural Mage Titans event. In fact, you can watch his ‘2014’s best conference talks’, voted by Net Magazine’s readers. Yes, we covered Belgian beers (we both have a penchant for them) and chess but I also thought I would ask a few questions for you! Okay, so I’m not a developer but the questions I asked are hopefully helpful for anyone thinking about moving over to Magento or act as a quick reference guide for the more experienced among you; to see if you’re doing things the same way as the pro.



Hey Vinai, so in which direction would you point a developer looking to move onto the Magento platform?
It depends on budget and the level of knowledge really. If you already know PHP and you have the funds or your workplace is willing to support you, then the Magento U training is invaluable. If however, you are doing this on your own on a limited budget then I recommend Allan MacGregor’s ‚ÄòMagento PHP Developer’s Guide’ (the second edition especially).

What is your core toolset?

Any that you use more sporadically?
Sure, Composer and XDebug

With many years of coaching you must see some reoccurring issues, what is the most common?

Well, there’s two mainly:

1. Taking code that once worked perfectly fine and putting it to work in a different context without thoroughly checking. This more than likely adds dead code which in turn makes it more difficult to maintain. It might be quicker in the immediate term, but will cost more in the long run!
2. Small typos. With Magento especially, the smallest typos can have a big impact. Here is when it’s good to use auto-completion!

What do you think is the most important ‚ ‘best practice’ with Magento?

Try to create small independent modules rather than larger, more comprehensive, kitchen sink programs with tonnes of functionality. This is to avoid any type of rewrite, which in itself isn’t always possible.

Finally, of course, we have to mention this‚ what are you most excited about in Magento 2?

Magento 2 has more of a modern approach to a framework, unified and consistent. It has more targeted rewrites which should minimise conflicts and also uses constructor dependency injection.

Thanks Vinai, see you soon!


Vinai Kopp’s bio:

Vinai is a passionate Web Developer and has been an open source enthusiast since 1998. Today his main focus is training developers how to customise Magento. Since March 2008 he has specialised on the Magento platform, which at the time was still in the later beta stages. Working as a freelancer for his own clients and in large teams he was able to gather valuable experience in projects ranging from very small to quite large. This enabled Vinai to move into training developers how to effectively customise Magento.

Since then he has spent thousands of hours giving training, both in-house and open to everybody, in all aspects of the Magento platform. Topics range from extension development to using Git with Magento, performance tuning and automated testing. Since March 2010 he has worked as an official Magento U instructor. He spent two years as a full time employed trainer for Magento, but decided he preferred the freedom to focus on projects he chooses himself, and has been working on a freelance basis again since January 2014. He is a member of the Magento Certification Advisory Board and was one of the first to pass the MCD+ exam. Vinai is co-author of the German Magento Developer Handbook published by O’Reilly in 2010.