Recent Posts


No Frills Command Line Magento


Frustrated by Magento? Then you’ll love Commerce Bug, the must have debugging extension for anyone using Magento. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, Commerce Bug will save you and your team hours everyday. Grab a copy and start working with Magento instead of against it.

Updated for Magento 2! No Frills Magento Layout is the only Magento front end book you'll ever need. Get your copy today!

The short version: I’ve found a new home for my n98-magerun Magento Quickies series by publishing a new Leanpub book. No Frills Command Line Magento is the latest book in the No Frills development series, and covers efficient Magento administration with the n98-magerun command line tool, and beginning PHP development with Symfony and the Composer package management system.

Right now the book is a copyedited version of the n98-magerun series from Magento Quickies, and with the Leanpub publishing platform I’ll be able to update the book with chapters on new commands and the n98-magerun module system, as well as other developments in the platform. (If you have topic suggestions please get in touch, I’d love to hear them)

Leanpub also means you get a PDF, EPUB, and mobi/Kindle version of the book.

Tech Writing

Somewhere between many and a few years ago, I spoke at the second (if you count Volcano-pocalypse as the first) Magento Developers Paradise conference. After my talk a representative from a major tech publisher approached me with a pitch for a Magento book.

I was enthusiastic at first — I’d had the idea to publish my own Magento book, but the chance to work with a real publisher and have access to proper copyediting, global marketing, and a litany of other things a publisher brings to the table was temping.

Of course, reality set in quickly. I started to pitch my idea for a book that, on the surface, covered Magento development, but at the same time was really teaching you object oriented PHP development. Despite being from a New York based publishing company, the rep passively but persistently pushed the conversation away from a book about object oriented PHP, and towards a “Let’s shovel you existing content in between two thicker pieces of paper” approach. I wanted to write a book that would turn a beginning programmer into a Magento and object oriented PHP developer, they wanted a Magento programmer’s cookbook.

I wasn’t opposed to the idea — I could see how it made sense from a business point of view — but when the conversation moved onto business

Me: What sort of advance are you budgeted for, and how would the royalty rate work?

Book Agent: This would be really great exposure for you.

Me: I understand that and know you’re not paying engineering rates for book content, but what would the advance be and what would the royalty rate be?

Agent: Just think of the clients you’d get.

my interest was snuffed out.

The conversation did help me coalesce some ideas about the Magento book I wanted to write and the one the market needed, and that led to No Frills Magento Layout.

Teaching Thinking

As time’s gone on, the trend in tech book publishing and the entire “tech learning” (for lack of a better term) economy has focused on a vocational approach. Teach people the characters they need to type in order to make the things happen on the screen. Less and less time is spent on the underlying systems. It’s what employers are demanding, and what a fearful-of-unemployment job market thinks they need.

Of course, once you’re on the job a vocational approach is rarely enough, and you end up either learning about the underlying systems, working late hours playing whack a mole coder, or both.

With the No Frills series I’m trying to, in some small way, buck these trends. Make no mistake: These books will teach you the characters you need to type in order to make the thing on the screen happen. At the same time though, the approach I take is an exploratory one — a process you can take to learn any system from the top down.

So, No Frills Command Line Magento starts as a vocation book, teaching you the nuts and bolts of administering your Magento system with n98-magerun, but then, step by step, we slowly delve into deeper development topics like code repositories, builds, PHP Composer, and programming against a framework like Symfony.

It’s an odd little book, as much an experiment with Leanpub and the EPUB/mobi publishing ecosystems as it is with Magento. If you’re the slightest bit curious, and have found any of my writing or other Magento work useful please consider buying a copy. If you’re not happy with the result Leanpub has a Happiness guarantee.

The books and extensions I sell are what makes my work here, and on the the various Stack Exchange sites, possible. Your support is, as always, appreciated.

Originally published September 6, 2013

Copyright © Alana Storm 1975 – 2023 All Rights Reserved

Originally Posted: 6th September 2013

email hidden; JavaScript is required