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Book Review: php|architect’s Guide to E-commerce Programming with Magento

I’ve decided to switch the back end of my side-line e-commerce dance wear and leisure wear clothing site from ClickCartPro to Magento. Why? Well, Magento is cheaper (moot point as I’ve already brought the licence for ClickCartPro), Open Source (so’s ClickCartPro), is more flexible (so it seems), has more options and it’s another shopping cart system for me to learn and have experience with (plus it does seem to be growing in popularity quite a bit).

However, the switch has come with a price: it’s quite a complex bit of kit! So, since Waterstones had an offer on and I needed to buy some other books I purchased php|architect’s Guide To E-Commerce Programming with Magento from them (Waterstones’ price is £19.99 and Amazon’s is £18.99: both with free shipping. It’s also available as a PDF for $29.99 from the publisher’s site). Why did I buy this book? Well, it was the only Magento book Waterstones (or Amazon) had!

It’s reasonably written – however, it is NOT a user guide book or “shop owners” book (which is actually what I wanted)! It is, as it’s title suggests, a guide to programming and developing with it and only just covers the usage of the Magento ecommerce software (chapter 3: “Exploring Magento” is about the only overview section it has).

However, although it has 184 pages, it was written prior to May 2008 and parts of it are out of date: and whilst it gives two example modules “Chapter 8: Made to order module” and “Chapter 9: Points and Rewards Module” that it guides you through writing, it doesn’t seem to give that good an overview of how Magento works (although “Chapter 5: Database Design” does give some details of the database design).

The examples given in the book are largely incomplete (just sort of overview level), there’s no example CD/DVD and there’s no code on the publisher’s website (so if you are, like me, a “learn by example” and like to start off with a working example and deconstruct it referencing the book to find out why it was written that way, then you’re out of luck!).

I’ll say the book is around a 7.5 out of 10 score: not brilliant, but a good starting point – and considering there’s no other books out there covering the subject, it’s not got much competition.

Alexa has another review of it