Meeting Philip Jackson, Lead Magento Architect in Something Digital

Phillip Jackson 2

i4: Tell us about where do you work and what is your position.

Philip: I am a the Lead Magento Architect at Something Digital NYC – a Magento Gold Partner.

i4: Linux, Windows or Mac? Why?

Philip: Mac OSX and Ubuntu Linux. I find that my workflow on a *nix system is so much more streamlined because of the standard toolkit available and because of the ease of install for software packages. I’m a huge fan of open source so the fact Ubuntu and most of OSX’s Darwin is Open Source Software is intriguing to me.

i4: Which IDE do you use?

Philip: I have been full-circle in my career with IDEs – I spent years running Eclipse, Netbeans, and Zend Studio; then I spent 6 months strictly using VIM. As I am lately doing much more than just PHP I’ve split the difference recently and I’m using a heavily customized version of Sublime Text 3. I hear great things about PHPStorm and I definitely need to check it out sometime soon.

i4: Do you use any control version system? Why?

Philip: We use Git and have a long-running program internally to convert our hundreds of repositories over from SVN. I’ve used a number of technologies over the years (including CVS, Hg) but I keep coming back to Git. It’s really a fantastic tool and I can’t imagine how we ever did development prior to Git!

i4: How long have you been working with Magento?

Philip: I was part of the original group of enthusiasts in the PHP when the beta launched in 2008 – and my first site launched on Magento in January of 2009. I have been part of the community since the very beginning participating on the forums, IRC and most recently in Magento Stackexchange. I firmly believe that contributing back to the community is one of the most important things that I do as a developer.

i4: When developing, where do you look for help or support? 

Philip: As I mentioned, Magento Stackexchange is a fantastic resource (magento.stackexchange.com). The best of the best in the industry are there daily answering questions. I also encourage you to check out Magento developers and insiders on Twitter: most people are very friendly and approachable.

i4: Within the developing community, tell us whom do you know and what would you highlight of them. 

Philip: Marius Strajeru is an absolute beast of a developer – he is #1 on Magento Stackexchange and, aside from being talented, is very friendly. It’s a good thing we live in different hemispheres or else we’d be in competition for useless internet points. Follow him on Twitter: @mariusstrajeru

Kimberely Thomas is a very warm and approachable person – she gets along with just about everyone – and she was the person who introduced me to most people in the community at-large. She is a great developer and a very smart businesswoman. Follow her on Twitter: @magentogirl.

Allan Macgregor is a developer located in Toronto. I like Allan because he’s smart, witty, and has a fantastic accent. He wrote a book last year about Magento development and is working on a book for unit testing Magento 1.x at the moment. He and I are interested in a lot of the same technologies including HHVM and Hack – and his blog regularly turns up really cool programming content. Check out his blog at http://coderoncode.com/ and following him on Twitter: @allanmacgregor.

i4: What thing do you like most of Magento?

Philip: It truly is near-infinitely flexible. I have seen Magento do some incredible things. I am amazed daily that even after 6 years of working with the platform I continue to discover new things.

i4: And the thing you like less?

Philip: The lack of a qualified talent pool at the moment – demand is so high and the available pool of talent is so shallow that it’s creating a salary bubble. This is not unlike the bubble in other technology industries (voip/telecom) of past decades – but it seems that after 6 years we would have more adoption of the platform to the point that people have at least dabbled with it. As of now we’re hiring juniors and training them from scratch.

i4: If you could change 3 things of Magento, which ones would be?

Philip: This is such a tough question. Most of my gripes are being handled in Magento 2. I personally don’t mind the big gripes most people have: the amount of XML, the “overengineered”/sprawling architecture. My biggest complaint is that Magento has 5 ways to do everything. I would prefer if Magento were a bit more opinionated in this regard. A small but not insignificant gripe is that Magento Enterprise’s full page cache hole-punching can be complex and finicky with a lack of real documentation (but what’s new, right? We’re talking about Magento here…)

i4: What do you think about Magento 2.0?

Philip: I’m part of the partner steering committee team that was tasked last October to help inform the direction of Magento 2. I’ve been involved in the project since and I’m active on Github watching the progression. I’ve also started to develop for Magento 2 and performed a series a screencasts about getting up to speed on Magento 2.

i4:What could you tell us about the future of your company? Which are your future steps/goals?

Philip: We’re an agency of passionate experts – that is the goal – to remain a relevant voice in the Magento community and to build high-quality sites for some of the world’s most recognizable brands.

i4: And the tricky question… What do you think about interactiv4?

Philip: I’m good friends with Kimberely so I think you guys are just swell! Maite is a ton of fun and Ignacio is such a nice guy.