Project Management Tips from the Developer’s Point of View

Today’s post is on something a bit different but still very much relevant in the web development world: project management. Now, I’m not all that old and I haven’t been a web developer for all that long (about 6 years in total, 3 actually getting paid ;-) but I have had the opportunity of working for a medium-sized media company with a development team of about 25 developers, a small 5-6 person development company (3 developers), and as an independent contractor.

When I began my career at the medium sized company, I initially saw my project managers as a pain in the ass. All I was interested in doing was coding. I had my own ideas of how the project or feature was going to be done and I thought that I could handle deadlines and project requirements better than they could. Was it really necessary to ask me multiple times a day what I was doing and what percentage of the project was still left to be done? PM’s gave new meaning to the phrase “avoid like the plague.” In all honesty, I wondered why in the hell these people were even hired to begin with. I just could not see the role of a project manager as being all that important.

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Posted in: Articles, Development, How To

Book Review: php|architect’s Guide to Programming Magento

Guide to Programming with MagentoToday, I’ll be reviewing php|architect’s Guide to Programming Magento by Mark Kimsal. Magento is a relatively new open-source e-commerce application written in PHP with a MySQL back. All in all, the Magento package is an impressive application with great administrative features and a flashy user interface. But under the hood, Magento is a complicated piece of machinery. At the very least, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. So in order to navigate this maze of XML layout files, multiple template and style directories and the EAV database schema, we purchased Mark Kimsal’s Magento programming book. Find out what we thought of it, after the jump.

At first glance of the index, I got warm fuzzies all over. File hierarchy layout, EAV schema and custom module development…who wouldn’t feel a little happy? However, I’m not really the type of person to give accolades unless something is absolutely stellar. As such, this post will primarily be about the shortcomings of the book.

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Posted in: Development, Reviews

Why you really, *really* should document your code properly, inside and out

Coders like to code; coders don’t like to write. It’s no secret that thorough and approachable documentation is a rarity in the coding world. Despite its necessity for the adoptability of a given software package, finding good documentation is notoriously difficult. I’ve seen “documentation” consist of a simple phpDocumentor run. To the folks at Magento: this is NOT DOCUMENTATION!!! It’s merely is an incomplete reference guide!

Maybe it’s because I’m not the greatest coder this side of the Mississippi, or perhaps because I actually have an interest in writing English, but I, for one, like to write documentation. In past projects, I have begged bosses and project managers to allocate time for me to document the code that I have written (every time I was denied…by the way). [Not the case here, for the record. We love documentation and Brandon's new. He'll come to see that. :-) —Ed] Good documentation, whether for internal applications or publicly available code bases is nearly as important as the code itself. Here’s why, after the jump.

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Posted in: Development, How To, Rants