I recently read Magento 1.3: PHP Developer’s Guide, a book on how to extend Magento using PHP for developers. The book jumps around a bit, it feels as though the offer just wanted to outline a few key tutorials, while trying to set a solid base for developers who wish to extend Magento.
The book includes the following chapters:
Chapter 1: How to install, upgrade and prepare for development. This chapter is more or less a general overview of architecture, module development, API, etc. – a good intro for developers getting started with Magento Development.
Chapter 2: Installing/Upgrading Magento and Preparing for development is very helpful for any developer looking to start development, but not sure how to prepare their system. Although, it is information that is freely available from the Magento website.
Chapter 3: Magento’s Architecture dives deep into the inner-workings of Magento, again – most of this information can be dug up from the Magento website, but the author presents it all within this chapter to make it easy to find. Screenshots help to illustrate how different content blocks can be created and will appear throughout your templates. Template and Theme designers would also benefit from this chapter as it explains where all the necessary files are stored, and how to edit/change them.
Chapter 4: Shipping Modules in Magento illustrates how to create and customize a shipping module. Shipping is a key component of any ecommerce site and this chapter establishes ways for developers to customize the shipping modules to fit the needs of their own business. The author shows step-by-step how to modify configuration files from within the Magento core.
Chapter 5: Building a Payment Module for Magento. I personally wouldnt add a payment Module as the whole benefit to Magento is that it works out of the box with Paypal, Google Checkout, Authorize.net, and Amazon Payments, so why would you opt for a smaller, less known payment gateway. If you were to opt for someone else, this chapter does a good job of showing you how to set it up.
Chapter 6: Building a Basic Feature Products Module. One thing that is always surprised me about Magento is the lack of this feature being part of the core software. This is probably one of the most requested tutorials in my mind, is how developers can show featured products on their homepage with ease. The book does a very good job here of outlining how to setup Feature Products.
Chapter 7: Fully-Featured Module for Magento with Admin Panel. This chapter walks the developer through from start to finish how to create a custom Module. I felt as though this chapter should have come sooner in the process, since it outlines a very basic hello world module.
Chapter 8: Integration of Third-Party CMS
The author gets a bit fuzzy in this chapter, he outlines the need to integrate wordpress as a CMS, but then mentions a news section and/or blog. I have used the cms functions in Magento and believe that they can achieve all the basics of a CMS. Integrating WordPress, is a bigger step and should only be done if you are looking to integrate a blog into your site.
Chapter 9: Magento’s Core API
This chapter is more of a reference guide for all of the functions and methods available to developers through the Core API. This can be very helpful when creating custom modules for Magento.
Chapter 10: Importing and Exporting Data
This chapter explains how to use the import and export tools built-into Magento to get data in and out. It feels a bit out of place, as this is supposed to be a PHP Developer’s guide – and not so much how to manage/maintain your Magento installation.
Overall, the book jumps around a bit. I really enjoyed the chapters on custom module development and creating a featured products module. I feel as though some of the chapters could be re-arranged, and even some dismissed. I would advise most php developers to look into other books befause purhcasing this. The level oh PHP knowledge required to digest and understand these issues seems quite high.