Mastering Magento Book Review
Welcome to our Magento latest book review. Got your reading glasses and bookmark ready? Well put them away because this time Packt Publishing have provided us with an e-copy of their latest in the series of Magento how-to guides. In terms of guides for developers this is their 4th book, this time written by author and online marketing specialist Bret Williams. You can see their full range here.
What is ‘Mastering Magento’ about?
How long have you got? This book literally spans a wide range of topics about Magento, some aimed at developers/designers and some at merchants. This means that there’s likely to be some topics covered which are irrelevant to either party. In a nutshell, these are the topics:
- How to set up your stores and categories effectively
- Setting up multiple stores and languages
- Overview of product types, attributes and attribute sets
- Managing orders
- Configuring payment methods, tax and shipping options
- Managing CMS pages and static blocks
- Creating promotions
- Creating sitemaps and configuring for SEO
- How to install Magento properly and choose the right server environment
- How to correctly theme and skin your site (including local.xml)
- Using Magento Connect and creating extension packages
- Overview of the EAV architecture
- Ways of increasing load speed and caching
- Using WordPress with Magento (Fishpig)
- Setting up cron jobs (mainly in CPanel) and writing them into your extensions
- Pre-launch checklist
As you can see, many topics covered, and in a lot of detail too. If I had this book when I was just starting out 3 or 4 years ago, I would have avoided some of the mistakes I had made as a student of Magento. As an experienced Magento developer however, there’s nothing in this book that is new to me. I would say that some of the chapters may be useful as references, such as creating extension packages and the pre-launch checklist.
From a merchant’s point of view, 50% of this book is extremely helpful and 50% (the developer/designer part) might aswell be written in another language. The day one of my clients recites to me the benefits of an EAV database is the day Earth will get a visit from a unicorn in a tophat from Mars.
The first 50% that I referred to however is a superb source of information for merchants. It gives a detailed overview of everything you would train your clients how to do. This includes adding products (CSV and manually), adding categories, managing stores, using the CMS, processing orders, setting up promotions and it even gives some good-practice SEO advice.
Who is this book for?
As I’ve already mentioned, the book is aimed at quite a few audiences at the same time. In my opinion the amount of detail that the book goes into about pretty basic stuff suggests that merchants who have no web design experience will get a lot out of it, and it will allow them to run their shop better.
From a developer’s point of view, it’s certainly aimed at a beginner to intermediate level. There’s nothing in here which will be new to hardened Magento developers who still have the battle scars from their novice days.
How does the book read?
With the sheer amount of topics that the book covers there’s a helluva lot to read and the level of detail is fantastic.The fact that there’s a whole chapter (24 pages) dedicated to adding products should give you some idea. The writing style and layout of the book is the same as past books we have been sent by Packt – a little bit uninspiring. A bit more colour and a few more screenshots would enhance the pages and pages of text you’re often presented with. The diagrams could also benefit from a bit of colour to make them more enjoyable to read.
Despite the lack of imagery however, the textual information contained in the book is an easy read – well paragraphed and bulleted where required.
The book is well written, concise and most importantly accurate. All information given on theming and configuration settings follow the Magento best practice guidelines that I have become accustomed to. Though its audience is not as defined as previous Magento editions released by Packt, ‘Mastering Magento’ definitely suits beginner web designers/developers and merchants overall. If you fall into either of those categories I would recommend this book.