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Magento 1.3 Sales Tactics Cookbook

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Books 60

Dmitry Dulepov writes "Magento is a very popular open source e-commerce platform. It was created by the company named Varien in 2007. Varien worked with osCommerce but it did not suit Varien's expanding requirements. After writing more and more changes to osCommerce, Varien finally wrote its own e-commerce software from scratch. It took Varien seven months in 2007 to publish the first public version of Magento." Read on for the rest of Dmitry's review.Since that time, Magento started to get popularity, and now it is one of the most popular and advanced e-commerce solutions available. The list of companies who uses Magento is huge.

Magento is very powerful. But power comes with its costs. Magento can be complex to users. Fortunately there are lots of books available for those who want to set up their web stores using Magento. Some of these books were released by Packt Publishing, the company known to focus on practical books.

Recently Packt released a somewhat unusual book. It is called Magento 1.3 Sales Tactics Cookbook. The book is written by William Rice, who is a software training specialist from New York city. As a trainer, William has a way to explain difficult concepts in an easy way: a gift necessary in case the of Magento. Each chapter consists of several topics. Topics break down into four parts:
- Getting ready
- How to do it...
- How it works...
- There's more...

Each section is a set of instructions that tell the reader how to quickly and efficiently achieve their goals.

Chapter 1 is about making users come to your store. It talks about adding meta tags, optimizing images, creating site maps and keeping them up to date. The very first topic tells how to add meta tags to product pages. The "Getting ready" section describes constraints and requirements to fulfill before the task can be performed. For example, for meta tags it says that access to the administration interface is necessary, and research should be done about the best keywords and customer expectations. The "How to do it..." section follows with detailed instructions about adding meta tags. It asks the reader to log into the Magento backend, select the correct menu items and edit products. Most of steps are illustrated with large images and example content in them. Thus it becomes very easy to follow directions. Example texts are also very good.

The "How it works..." section shows the reader how to verify that keywords and description appear on the page. It also describes how search engines may use this information to show search results for the user. This section also talks about choosing better keywords.

The "There's more..." section provides useful links that should help the reader to get started with the task.

Other advice in this section includes optimizing image usage by using better titles and descriptions, improving the site's title, adding a site map and making Magento update it. All advice comes with great level of details. If the reader is completely new to any of these topics, she or he will have no problem following these instructions.

Chapter 2 talks about the importance of placing products on shopping sites. It gives a complete set of instructions to add products to Google. Google is a major search engine, so any shop would benefit from having Google list its products. As in the previous chapter, the reader is guided from the very beginning (such as creating a Google account) to the final step. The instructions are written so that the reader can proceed to the step she or he needs directly (for example, use his existing Google account).

Chapter 3 talks about creating information pages in Magento that would drive people to product pages. Selling is like a science. It is not enough to drop in a couple of good looking images and dummy text to start making cash. To sell products effectively, one needs to make customers want to buy those products. One of the ways is to write about shop's goods in an attractive way. This chapter shows how to write about products and make customers love them. It is not typical blah-blah advice that anybody can find online for free. It is a real guide on creating a version of the page, looking at it critically and improving it. Most such pages will become landing pages when users search for products.

Chapter 4 talks about making pages more interesting to users. This includes adding video, writing stories and changing the layout of product pages. Also it shows an interesting technique to customize products for customers. Each of us likes to feel as if a product is made specially for us. This chapter explains how to make it and gives examples.

More good advice in this chapter is about images. Any reader will get a very interesting hint on using images better. The author of this review really liked the idea and had to resist the temptation to repeat it here. Unfortunately, this review does not allow me to explain the necessary level of details of this nice technique.

Chapter 5 describes how to increase sales with upselling, using related products, cross-sells, etc. With upselling the customer can get more products similar to the one purchased. That really works. Upselling can help customers to get more of they want. Related products play a similar role, but they show products that look alike or close in some way to the product that the customer wants to purchase. There are also other options to sell more products. They are described in this chapter.

Chapter 6 is about using promotional pricing effectively. It is not a secret that we all love promotions and discounts. Magento products can have a set of rules that define price change when more items are added to the cart. This chapter teaches how to use these rules.

Chapter 7 shows the way to engage customers using customized e-mails, RSS and newsletters. There is also a discussion of using social networking to increase sales. Newsletters are slow, and are considered to be spam by many customers; social networking is ascending. This chapter gives valuable advice about using social networking to boost sales.

Chapter 8 is about getting the customer's feedback through various tools. While there are tons of shops on the Internet, many people go to Amazon first (and often buy there). It happens because Amazon not only sells, it also allows customers to review products. When people read good reviews, they become engaged. Seeing a positive review highly increases the chance that more customers will buy the product. This chapter tells the reader how to manage feedback from customers.

Chapter 9 talks about a complex topic of internationalization and improving international sales. Magento has several ways to translate products and pages. This chapter shows the best way to do it. Also the reader will learn about installing language packs and adjusting URLs for international stores.

Chapter 10 talks about creating a wholesale stores. Wholesale customers are different from regular customers in several ways. In particular, they usually do not pay sales tax. This chapter describes how to use the same physical Magento installation to serve both types of customers. It gives several serious benefits. For example, the amount of products will always be correct.

I was really fascinated by this book. I knew some basics but I found that this book contained so many useful techniques that I am glad I came across this book. It is really useful. William Rice is a great author and once again he wrote a great Magento book. Many ideas will also be valid for non-Magento store owners, but Magento users will benefit a lot.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely! This book is a must for any Magento shop owner.

The copy of the book was provided to me by Packt Publishing. Packt Publishing never asked me to write anything particular or change my texts. This and all my other reviews represent my true opinion about reviewed books.

You can purchase Magento 1.3 Sales Tactics Cookbook from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Magneto Sales Tactics (3, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#32719904)

  1. Recruit disaffected mutants as "sales" force.
  2. ???
  3. PROFIT!!!

Re:Magneto Sales Tactics (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32720060)

Anyone at all familiar with popular culture would have picked a different name. I was like "Oh cool! Magneto Sales Tactics! That could be exciting. ... Oh - Ma-GEN-to Sales Tactics. Meh."

Name Fail.

Re:Magneto Sales Tactics (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#32722678)

Damn. I didn't even realize I'd misread the name until you pointed it out.

Re:Magneto Sales Tactics (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32720560)

1. Recruit disaffected mutants as "sales" force.
2. ???
3. PROFIT!!!

Hey, it works for door-to-door energy retailers.

Crush the competition! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32725048)

Selling things is a lot easier when you can crush the competition literally (well, so long as there's some metal to manipulate... but there's *always* metal somewhere).

Re:Magneto Sales Tactics (1)

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Minimum Word Count? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32720098)

I was really fascinated by this book. I knew some basics but I found that this book contained so many useful techniques that I am glad I came across this book. It is really useful. William Rice is a great author and once again he wrote a great Magento book. Many ideas will also be valid for non-Magento store owners, but Magento users will benefit a lot.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely! This book is a must for any Magento shop owner.

Yeah, you're not in third grade anymore. Your teacher isn't grading your book reports by making sure you read every chapter and counting the number of words in your review.

And 1 big tactic, buy the enterprise version for.. (4, Informative)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32720108)

PA-DSS Certified. Else you have to use remotely hosted payment pages as the Community Edition is not PA-DSS certified. And that takes effect by Visa et. al starting Thursday. It's either that or have your systems PCI Level I certified, which is easily $50k - 100k+ to go through that nightmare. (We've done both PA-DSS and PCI Level I. PA-DSS was far less painful both in the pocket book and time to meet all their requirements for certification. It took longer to get the paperwork pushed through than it did to code in all the features they required. PCI Level I, on the other hand, was damn near a 2 year process.)

  From over a decade of creating & deploying E-commerce apps, if you cannot accept credit cards directly on your site and send people to any other hosted payment page other than paypal, you level of cart abandonment dramatically increases. As soon as the customer goes to a 3rd party site, especially if you are a small mom & pop e-tailor, the abandonment rate can be as high as 90% (usually we saw around 70%). This is despite the fact that sending the total to say First Data's checkout page hosted by First Data is FAR safer for everyone rather than having the mom and pop store sent the payment from their server. But with all the fishing scams and warnings, folks have gotten it into their heads that if they are sent to a 3rd party site payment page not to trust it. And unless you've dealt with merchant accounts, chances are you've not heard of Orbital (Chase PaymentTech) or First Data even though combined they are the backend processors for 95% of all e-commerce transactions).

 

Re:And 1 big tactic, buy the enterprise version fo (2, Informative)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 4 years ago | (#32721086)

I have a osCommerce shop for years, recently finished my 3.0a5 shop that needed a lot of bugfixes, also I had a lot of own modules that needed translation to the new software, all is working well.
But...

This post is about deploying 3rd parties for CC handling.
More and more of these services are changing along offering behind the scene links for CC processing to keep your clients in your webshop.
Mine is Ogone and htye offer DirectLink that does just that.

Transferring to 3rd party websites is very 90's.

Re:And 1 big tactic, buy the enterprise version fo (1)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32721412)

Transferring to 3rd party websites is very 90's.

I would not enter payment details on anything other than Paypal, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Steam, under any circumstances, ever. When I'm interested in buying something from some small site, I expect to be sent off to Paypal or their Amazon store to purchase the item, and if I'm faced with an HTML form with fields for a credit card number on their little site, they can kiss the sale goodbye instantly.

I guess making profit off the internet is so 90's too?

Re:And 1 big tactic, buy the enterprise version fo (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830618)

How quaint.

You wouldn't order from a site like Newegg, but you think your data is safe with PayPal.

Re:And 1 big tactic, buy the enterprise version fo (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724876)

If you are not using PA-DSS certified software, hint no OSS shopping cart is PA-DSS certified. Last I checked there were only 4 or 5 on the list period or you have to be PCI Level I certified for your site to even see cardholder data. This means you cannot have a webform to enter in their data. Therefore you have to hand off to a 3rd party payment page that IS PCI Level I certified.

We're going back to remotely hosted 3rd party payment pages BECAUSE THE CREDIT COMPANIES ARE FORCING YOU TO. If you do not comply with PA-DSS/PCI-DSS, you're merchant account gets terminated by Visa.

Re:And 1 big tactic, buy the enterprise version fo (1)

KillerLoop (202131) | more than 4 years ago | (#32736570)

Your payment service is called ogone? Terrific name choice.

Re:And 1 big tactic, buy the enterprise version fo (2, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#32721912)

The problem is that most of the mom-and-pop shows use PayPal which many people have been bitten by and pressures people highly into getting a credit card with them and give them their bank account information at the same time. Recently, more shops have been getting Google Checkout which I and a lot of other people prefer. The problem for some remains that both PayPal and Google requires logins and keeps track of your payments whether you want it or not.

Another issue is that a lot of those shops if they are using any branding at all have really bad branding jobs. They really look like a scam since logo's and text will be wrong and outdated, the browser will alert that there is text, images or *ugh* scripts and forms that are NOT encrypted while on the payment site.

A good payment provider can transparently provide a secure, branded payment without tripping browser safeguards and without requiring arbitrary logins. The problem is that many developers don't know how to find them or use them. And PayPal are scammers themselves, nobody should trust them to begin with.

Re:And 1 big tactic, buy the enterprise version fo (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724938)

I would agree with you in regards to paypal, and while a lot of people on Slashdot knows this, but most of the people shopping online know the brand of paypal and therefore trust it overall.

 

Re:And 1 big tactic, buy the enterprise version fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32723924)

huh? can you give a citation for this new pci standard or something? i'm trying to understand what you mean?

First of all, it isnt popular. (4, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32720142)

it is flashy, and a lot of advertising and hype is being done around it.

second, it is coded in a very developer hostile fashion, sometimes in a way akin to metaphorically showing the left ear with your right hand. functions are piped into functions, routines unnecessarily, creating unseemly and unnecessary overhead in the process. this actually seems to be a recent trend in making the code open source, but hostile to external development, channel users to original developers/software house. you can see this being employed in a number of software out there, apart from magento. anything you do in any kind of other php based code, even the most problematically coded scripts, will become a pain in the ass to do in magento. this also increases development time, charges, and shrinks the third party developer base as well as userbase even further, due to higher costs of development compared to anything else.

third, it, for some reason, despite being a shopping cart, has 10,000+ lines of code. go figure.

it is very disturbing that /. gets easily exploited for peddling possessive bloatware like this.

Re:First of all, it isnt popular. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32720336)

it is coded in a very developer hostile fashion

Your post is written in a very reader-hostile fashion.

Re:First of all, it isnt popular. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32720348)

it is flashy, and a lot of advertising and hype is being done around it.

Translation: This "book review" is really just a Slashvertisement.

Friends don't let friends use Magento. (3, Informative)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32720666)

I used to be a system admin at a web hosting company, and all our customers who used Magento were constantly having problems. First, it's a first-class resource hog. Basically, you need dedicated hardware to run it. Even on a VPS, it would cause node problems on a relatively frequent basis. Second, it's incredibly fragile. There were some customers who just couldn't leave well enough alone and kept trying to add plugins and whatnot. They invariably would screw up file permissions or trash their database tables, and next thing you know, we were having to restore from backups that were likely 24-36 hours behind (customers tended not to do their own backups, thinking our backups for emergency system restore were the same as "i better make a working copy before i screw with this") -- frankly, I don't know how they ever made any money with their sites. They probably didn't. In short, using Magento will make tech support laugh at you, system admins hate you, and kittens die tragic, horrible deaths by being subjected to John Waters films.

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (1)

HoneyBunchesOfGoats (619017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32721546)

We're just starting to look into e-commerce, with an eye towards using something that's open source. Do you have a recommendation over Magento?

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32721694)

ZenCart and osCommerce are both open-source and relatively robust. I noticed them break less, and less severely if they did. Seriously, adding a damned plug-in shouldn't cause a cascading list of 500 server errors.

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (2, Informative)

phpsocialclub (575460) | more than 4 years ago | (#32723336)

Both of these are not PA-DSS

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32723400)

that compliance actually accomplishes NOTHING in regard to practical and real security considerations. its basically a whole load of bullshit.

however, if you have to get certified, just use modules for achieving that.

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32723634)

ZenCart and osCommerce are both open-source and relatively robust.

When you say robust, I presume you mean god awful?
I'm having to do some (minor) OSC work and are wondering how the whole project has managed to last as long as it has.
The codebase is a nightmare, and the last (stable) release was over 2 years ago, which I suppose is a blessing considering how horrible it is to attempt to update stores.
They don't employ any kind of proper plugin / theme system so every time you need to make a modification you pray that the change doesn't destroy the website

Coupled with the fact that very very few site owners have heard of version control, you've got a real mess on your hands.

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727036)

osCommerce hasn't been updated in ages, has no concept of separating presentation and content, and the code looks and smells awfully. I'd rather deal with 4 bloated Magento installs than 1 osCommerce, though ideally I'd avoid both.

Magento's installation "console" thingy is a work of art, and by work of art I mean "stupid flashy idea that should never have been implemented, ever". Instead of making me wait and instead of having things just hang with no feedback whatsoever, tell me where to copy the bloody files and give me good error messages instead.

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (1)

Ritontor (244585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724748)

Magento is awesome, don't listen to the haters. Yes, it probably requires a VPS, but a 1gb VPS will handle a fair bit of traffic with Magento's caching turned on. Secondly, you know all those crazy requirements ecom customers want, like their own special fancy way of doing things? Magento is a thousand times more configurable than any of the other OS ecom packages out there, I can't tell you the number of times we've been able to meet a client's requirement just out of the box. Sure, it's huge and complicated, but it's also very powerful, and absolutely devours ZenCart and osCommerce, both of which I've used, and both of which have just the worst imaginable codebase.

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32725746)

Our Magento site is hosted for $70/mo (which is overkill tbh) and it runs nice and smooth.

We aren't using it for ecommerce, strictly to drive sales to our retail store.

If you know what you're doing, Magento is terrific. Do your research, and it is well worth the effort.

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (1)

KiloUtrechtTango (1697930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32725932)

We're just starting to look into e-commerce, with an eye towards using something that's open source. Do you have a recommendation over Magento?

Take a look at Prestashop. In contrary to osC it is actually developed and has a lot of potential.

yeah (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32723442)

i forgot the resource hog part.

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (1)

angrygretchen (838748) | more than 4 years ago | (#32725616)

I was drawn to Magento because compared to most other open source shopping cart it appeared to be the most polished one out there. But after installing it, and trying to figure out the backend, I ended up in the forums. Most of the discussion turned out to be people asking for help for things which should have been trivial. I was amazed at the totally obtuse and confusing steps to do most things. The community developers were few and far between, probably because coding any plugins was so much harder than it needed to me. I've tested many carts and Magento ranks really high among all of them for complexity, and not in a good way. Its too bad cause Magento offered some features that is usually only available in very expensive carts, such as multi-store support and powerful attribute modifiers. I experienced the performance issues that have been mentioned earlier, and it appeared the only way to get it to an acceptable level was to use a dedicated server.

Re:Friends don't let friends use Magento. (1)

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Re:First of all, it isnt popular. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32720684)

it's enterprise software. what enterprise software isn't coded like this?

Re:First of all, it isnt popular. (1)

teaserX (252970) | more than 4 years ago | (#32720940)

third, it, for some reason, despite being a shopping cart, has 10,000+ lines of code. go figure.

Magento is also a content management system, inventory management system and a customer relations utility. 10k lines of code is probably reasonable in this case.

I completely agree with your first 2 points, however, and "very developer hostile" is a spot-on description.

Re:First of all, it isnt popular. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32722808)

10,000+ lines of code? More like 10,000+ files... actually 54,000+ files, iirc.

CORRECTION TO PARENT (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32723454)

it was to be 10,000+ plus files, not lines of code. i made a typo. and i have been informed that its not 10,000, but actually 54,000+ files. now, go figure.

Re:First of all, it isnt popular. (1)

OzRoy (602691) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724592)

Magento has some fantastic features, but it has some mind bogglingly bad ideas that it almost becomes unusable.

The worst one I came across is EAV (http://fishpig.co.uk/2010/06/07/magento-database-structure-eav/)

We were having a really strange problem with SagePay our payment gateway. Everything seemed to be working fine, and we launched the site. But then by chance one of us happened to order about 10 individual items and the payment failed, but Magento recorded a successful transaction. This would happen consistently. After a lot of digging around we discovered that SagePay would make a callback to Magento to verify the payment details, but the verification script would take over 30 seconds to complete execution by which point SagePay would give up and cancel the payment, but Magento would continue on and record a successful transaction once execution finished.

Further digging and we realised it was saving the order information and using EAV for every single item and generating about 6000 (not a typo, six thousand) inserts to the database. This cannot be fixed without a major restructure of the whole system. It relies on this far too heavily. I do not have a problem with the concept of EAV, I have used similar techniques myself when requiring something more flexible, but this is just Nieve and makes would could be a great system virtually unusable.

WOW !! (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728060)

6000 db inserts for a SINGLE order from the store ?

Re:First of all, it isnt popular. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32736912)

Can you be more specific? Decoupled design would suggest this kind of behavior. Every function has a single secret. Every module is centered around a single concept or behavior. Not sure what's wrong with "pipelining". I'm sure the CPUs on your computer aren't complaining about pipelining the output of an addition into a multiplication.

Re:First of all, it isnt popular. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32750552)

read the thread that ensued from my gp post. a lot of people elaborated on most of the stuff.

Slashdot Desperation Alert, +4, Plusplusvomit (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32720442)

Magento Sales Tactics Cookbook???

Is the story about Magento

or Sales

or Sales Tactics

or Magento Cookbook

or ( and so on and so forth)

Another slow news day or are the Slashdot editors
drunk, high, and/or simply brain-dead?

Yours In Moscow,
Kilgore Trout

Whut? (1)

djdavetrouble (442175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32720536)

a way to explain difficult concepts in an easy way: a gift necessary in case the of Magento.

Sorry buddy, ya lost me right there.... what does that even mean?

Re:Whut? (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32720574)

He's saying that Magento is a bloated, overcomplicated piece of shit so the author of this book had to find a way to explain these concepts so that readers would understand them.

Re:Whut? (1)

ogar572 (531320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32721190)

I wish I mod points for you.

Re:Whut? (1)

ViralInfection (1221188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727610)

I come from a PHP background and have written entire Content Management Systems with eCommerce and a whole bunch of other crap. Since then I've moved into Ruby & MVC work. However, about 4 months ago I got into a Magento project.

So here are the problems:

1. Bane of documentation
2. Ugly MVC implementation
3. Indian Developer Support (& slow in my opinion)
4. Unoptimized querying (just watch your query log)
5. Zero developer tools (just wait until you have to debug this bitch)
6. Mage_Has_Great_Catalog_Product_Class_Name_Yah_Shit_Is_Retarded
7. 1-6, need more?

I've worked with so many different code bases and web application structures, but Magento is absolutely the worst.

Re:Whut? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32727158)

Something about a hovercraft being full of eels?

At a quick glance (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#32721248)

I saw Magneto sales tactics, and thought how the mighty have fallen,
used to be able to bring down the whole team of X-men down to their knees
and now has hit rock bottom and needs to sell his services as a good salesmen to make extra money

Magneto> Welcome to the bargain basement, are you looking for anything in particular???
Customer> I am was hoping to get a toaster, but one made from stainless steel....you know really shiny...
Magneto> Here is our best model sir, you will really enjoy this one...
Customer> This is crap, what r u talking about....this looks like crap!
Magneto> Would you like to see the toaster from a closer angle maybe....?
Customer> Hey....aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

internal sales were primary coding idea (1)

harknell (1090023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32721838)

Someone else has picked up on the part of Magento I noticed immediately. it looks like the idea of it was to make it so complicated to mod and theme that only internal sales (i.e. they themselves) or other dedicated companies (which the developers would provide a store front for) could really do anything with the code. I tried it out, and when I couldn't, in a reasonable timeframe, figure out how to add a few static pages and make basic theme edits--I knew it wasn't for me. Reminds me of the PhpNuke days when it was a pain to do anything even remotely outside of the plain vanilla set up.

Packt publishing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32722012)

Has anyone else noticed the recent spate of book reviews all for Packt publishing books?

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32722538)

What's a Magneto?

Books and Documentation Behind the Times (1)

kabojnk (1844056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32722832)

Yay! Another book for an outdated version of Magento. At the rate we're going, Magento will never have apt documentation. I think the part that kills me is that if Varien had more of a penchant for providing public documentation for its community edition, more authors would be writing better niche books for Magento. Magento is so very flexible (the only free e-commerce system I've seen that uses EAV), and has great potential; however, only a paucity of developers know how to bend it to their will. The theming alone can be a bit of a learning curve, but development is outright in lacking in up-to-date documentation. And I don't blem the Zend Framework that's the holdup--it's learning to use their Mage extension of ZF on top of that. Gross resource usage aside, documentation is sparse, and that means subsequent books will take longer to write and publish, and that's not good for Magento at all I think. And I think it also affects the lack of the community stepping up to the plate. Most of the developers who went through hell understanding what's going on under the hood decide to sell their extensions for money, rather than release the source and documentation to the community at large. And hell, I can't blame them for having to spend all of that time without documentation--I'd be bitter as hell. Like I said, Magento has a lot of potential (and I mean it's already there--developers just need to learn to implement it). I think it has a lot of pluses that go beyond other popular e-commerce platforms (especially Ubercart in terms of the flexibility of attributes and extending beyond what comes out of the box), as well as A/B testing and the such. Having deployed sites from so many free e-commerce platforms, I think Magento is the best for enterprise-level implementation... but from my standpoint I still have to recommend it tongue-in-cheek because it always means far more development time due to so many unknowns.

Re:Books and Documentation Behind the Times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32723494)

Magento is so very flexible (the only free e-commerce system I've seen that uses EAV)

EAV is a plus? There's a reason it is considered a well-known anti-pattern. Designing a small (as in, internal-only or experimental) project this way because your data model is unimportant to the functionality of the software is one thing. Building an entire shopping cart, CMS, inventory management and CRM suite around it is the height of insanity. They might as well store their content in a one-column table using CSV.

Re:Books and Documentation Behind the Times (1)

kabojnk (1844056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32726768)

Magento is so very flexible (the only free e-commerce system I've seen that uses EAV)

EAV is a plus? There's a reason it is considered a well-known anti-pattern. Designing a small (as in, internal-only or experimental) project this way because your data model is unimportant to the functionality of the software is one thing. Building an entire shopping cart, CMS, inventory management and CRM suite around it is the height of insanity. They might as well store their content in a one-column table using CSV.

You have a point there... I've seen people who see the pattern on the level with other things like goto statements. But I stand by my statement you quoted, because the flexibility directly correlates to the fact that they use EAV.

Businesses out there have so many different types of "products" and "attributes," and I've seen all of these packages attempt to tackle attributes... and I think the usage of EAV to tackle such a problem was justified.

That said, I definitely do not agree with their use of that pattern in some aspects of their software, though I can see why they did it. You can pretty much add fields to anything in Magento. Throw an extra text field here, and extra drop-down there. Makes it very easy for non-developers to add things.

The biggest problem is that it can cause resource issues and obviously makes writing raw queries a little more difficult... but I think the way it behaves with the code models is much cleaner than, say, having one single table with different columns for each data type.

I guess that's really up to argument though. Like I said, you bring up some good points.

Re:Books and Documentation Behind the Times (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32723520)

IIRC, Magento has zero comments in its source code, and is very hard to understand the way it is written. Basically, it seems like one of those projects that the company behind it wanted to call "open source", even though the code they've released is pretty much inscrutable.

Free software, pay for the manual (1)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 4 years ago | (#32722962)

I've been trying to find a simple Shopping Cart package for a very simple business website, and Magento is one of the packages I've trialled.

Magento is truly vast, and while the software may be free, you have to pay for the documentation - either printed or PDF.

All of the packages I've tried are bloated, with terrible UI and poor (or absent) documentation. The only way to get anywhere is through user forums. Does it really need to be so complicated?

Re:Free software, pay for the manual (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724966)

I'm in the exact same boat. I have a very simple business website where I sell about 3 products, each with a few variations, and all with very large descriptions with photos, installation diagrams and instructions, troubleshooting FAQs, etc. I currently do it with Paypal's shopping cart and custom-written HTML and a little PHP.

I looked into OScommerce, Agoracart, ZenCart, Magento, and more, and all of them sucked. They were all designed for websites that sell large volumes of cheap Chinese-made crap, with short descriptions and one or two small photos of each product. They're all heavily database-dependent, and stupidly use the database for all the product information, so that in effect, every page view on the website results in multiple database lookups and dynamic HTML creation, resulting in a slow site. They're also designed with the idea that anyone buying from you needs to create their own login. What kind of narcissistic idiot thinks that their little website is so important that customers buying a $20 part from you will want to go to the trouble of creating a unique login and password?

I just want a simple shopping cart, not some all-in-one monstrosity that requires a dedicated server.

Worse yet, all these systems (and I believe that Magento was especially bad in this regard) had completely inscrutable code, with zero comments, making understanding it nearly impossible, and modification similarly impossible. I was going to try to take one of these shopping cart systems and distill it down to something much smaller and simpler, but mainly reusing the payment modules (Paypal, Google Checkout, etc.), but that didn't go anywhere due to the obtuseness of the source code.

For now, I'm just sticking with Paypal. I have a Google Checkout account, and have plainly offered on my site to allow customers to use that if they don't like Paypal, or even to accept money order if they don't like online payments, and no one has ever taken me up on it. Everyone seems to be OK with Paypal.

As for whether it "needs" to be so complicated, I think the answer is that that's the way the Magento developers like it. They want to call themselves "open source", but to keep people dependent on them, they make the source code pretty much useless by removing all the comments and "architecting" it in a way that only the guy who wrote it can possible understand it. If they wrote it well, with code that's easy to understand and works great, then what would anyone need their support for? They'd just download the code, customize it some, deploy it, and be done, without sending a dime to the developers.

Re:Free software, pay for the manual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32726854)

Satchmo is the best.

Benefits and Drawbacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724036)

First - magento sales tactics might as well just read "internet marketing strategy" because there's nothing specific about marketing with magento. If you've figured out how to develop a store with it, you should have no problem navigating the backend interface to accomplish all of the things mentioned in this book.

We've been using magento for a few years in production and it has benefits and drawbacks. The one key benefit is that despite being poorly documented and difficult to understand, you'd be hard pressed to develop a site from scratch with the same feature-set in less time. So if you want magento's feature-set, you save some time by using it's foundation. First you invest a lot of time learning how it works, and then you develop on top of that pretty quickly.

For instance, Magento uses entity/attribute/value EAV table structure. EAV makes it easy for a store admin to add new attributes using the backend interface so it's a no-brainer for magento to use it for generic product attributes, but for a developer you have to understand EAV -- and Magento's implementation of it -- before you can start writing queries for it. Another good example is "functions calling functions" as another commenter mentioned. Another name for this might be OOP and I've yet to come across anything in Magento that isn't described in the Design Patterns book -- while it might be difficult to follow without documentation, none of it is too far out there. A lot of it just extends Zend Framework too, so if you're familiar with ZF or even another framework, it is much easier to understand.

Documentation is the missing link with magento because you basically need to read all the classes line by line and as another commenter mentioned, there are a lot -- more than 2700 for magento, another 1000 for Zend ( but Zend has docs ) and then 1200 template files. It goes pretty quickly though, you'd be surprised to find you can get through it all in a couple weeks.

The last thing to mention is that Magento sort of emulates Amazon or Walmart by default -- it's designed to be a department store. A lot of stores aren't department stores, they're specialty shops and for them, a lot of Magento won't be useful and some of it might even get in the way.

As far as using resources efficiently, Magento does this, provided that you are making use of all its features.

Finally, Varien has tried to engineer a software update system for Magento that allows point-and-click updating to the latest version of magento as well as point-and-click installs of modules from its marketplace. Sadly, the whole thing is a shit show -- nobody should be updating a production system like that, and there's no need to update a development system like that either when you can just check the whole thing out from svn anyway. Every time I ever tried to use the updater it failed.

I could go on... there are benefits and there are drawbacks.

Not quite okay with what I read actually (1)

nbs-system (1844454) | more than 4 years ago | (#32728032)

I'm running a French company which make dedicated hosting for Magento. Hell yes it need power and optimization but in the end, many customers says it's a budget assigment shift. Before, you had to pay for everything once you had a E-commerce site. Want to import a catalog ? pay. Want to manage a skin or make some dedicated shops ? pay. etc... The backoffice is very easy to use but very powerfull so seeing books around how to use it best is a good thing I think ! Now, you can handle it by yourself and this definitly lower you TCO. On the other hand, having a such flexible framework implied the use of a framework over Zend. all of this is Object, flexible etc but heavy to run. So you have to use 30% of what you previously gave to web agencies to your hosting company to make it run smoothly. In the end, a big server (optimized) can take up to 50 000 Uniq visitor a day, which is not a shame. (the site need to be decent of course). Most coders don't even know there's a cache mecanism and that he needs to be called explicitly, making the solution heavier. Usually (I alread host 150+ sites), count ~2% of the online revenue for hosting costs and -50% for the costs around maintainance, one in the other, middle and big E-commerce site are spending less money.
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