Perhaps no one will argue that today Mаgentо is one of the most popular and perhaps the most functionally rich CMS in the field of E-commerce. However, it is also true that the information on how to administer and configure Mаgentо is often taken as some sort of a secret knowledge scattered by small pieces all over the Internet: you can find something on Magento Commerce, much has been already described at Magento Stack Exchange and Stack Overflow but still the main source for shop owners and beginning administrators are some scrappy blogs of some experienced developers.
Recently Pасkt Publishing has issued 2 books that can be regarded as a complete how-to guide for beginners.
«Instant E-Commerce with Magento: Build a Shop» by Branko Ajzele
Brаnkо has been successfully writing tips for developers and administrators for a long time on his Inchoo blog. So it is not surprising that finally he managed to put it all together into a single administration guide to Mаgentо.
I do not quite agree that the selected format (how-to) is quite appropriate – to show in a succinct format the main possibilities of this CMS without any detailed explanation. But such presentation format still has some advantages because a person who meets Mаgentо back end for the first time can easily get into a muddle without a clear and precise guideline.
So, for whom can this guide be useful? First of all, for beginning administrators and shop owners. This book will not give you answers to such questions as: “Have I selected the right CMS for my business” or “How do I build a large on-line store”. But, if you have already decided to use Mаgentо as your platform and you want start using it asap – this book for you.
Let’s look through the contents:
- Basic configuration
- Product attributes and attribute sets
- Payment and shipping method
- Transactional e-mails
- Catalog and Shopping Cart Price Rules
- Managing orders
- Themes and appearance
As you see, each section speaks for itself. This book will help you understand the basic functions of an Internet-shop and will provide vivid examples to show all settings and their functions.
I would recommend this book as a preparatory phase to start with when trying to learn Mаgentо. Later you can continue with “Mastering Mаgentо” by Bret Williams also issued by the Pасkt Publishing house.
«Instant Magento Performance Optimization How-to» by Nayrolles Mathieu
As I have already said, I am quite skeptical about the ‘how-to’ type of books. I do not feel quite comfortable when a book offers some ready-to-use recipes and instructions which can ‘magically’ improve the performance of any website.
The problem of optimizing such CMS as Mаgentо is itself very complicated and broad and the solution depends on the very particular store. So, what does the author offer?
- Merging CSS files
- Logging files
- Managing the index
- Removing PayPal’s logo
- Using the Magento caching system
- Enhancing the expiration date
- Keeping your connections alive
- Storing your sessions in the database
- Configuring MySQL
- Using a memory-based filesystem for caching
- Compressing your code – gzip
- Installing a PHP accelerator
- Balancing load
- Replicating the database
- Checking the configuration
- Clearing caches
- Using template hints
- Using the Profiler
- Using a debugger
The book itself can be divided into several parts: media files optimization, using buid-in Magento tools, mysql tweeking and using php accelerator. I find it difficult to say why the author has decided not to describe in details any of the optimization aspects. In general, this book can be used as a starting point for a person who only begins to inquire how to speed-up and improve a website performance and Mаgentо in particular.
Media files optimization.
The tips for speeding the load time of a web page are described here in details. But, actually, there is nothing here that would not have been mentioned in Google PаgeSpeed docs and in “Best Practices for speeding up your Web site“, but if you are only beginning to study the problem of a website optimization then this book is a good start.
Unfortunately, there are no recommendations on how to use third-party modules provided by the community (for example fооmаn speedster), but, apparently, the book is aimed at giving only general recommendations.
Using buid-in magento tools.
If you do not completely understand why there are different types of indexes and cache used in Mаgentо and how they affect the performance of your store then this how-to guide will shed light on these issues. Will repeat once again: it would be better to have descriptions and comparison of the modules provided by the community for full page caching and advanced indexing, but as we have already agreed this how-to guide is only a starting point for further research.
Mysql tweeking and using php accelerator
I would call this part as the most controversial from the point of view of any particular store. You should not recklessly use the provided advice and recommendations. Before you change the mysql settings or the location of the session data it is better to read about each step in the appropriate resources or consult with more experienced colleagues (or at least don’t be afraid to ask for explanations on Magento Stack Exchange and Stack Overflow).
In general, such a book can be used as a start to study the issues of your e-store optimization. The majority of the given advice should be treated as just a guide for further googling and experiments on the dev server, but not as a ready-to-use recipe.
If you are only learning to administer Mаgentо – have a look at “Instant E-commerce with Mаgentо: Build a Shop“. You will be able to understand the basic structure of Mаgentо management and then move further and study those parts of this CMS which made it the leader in the e-commerce market.
For those people who are only beginning to study the ways of optimizing a Mаgentо store we can advise to check “Instant Mаgentо Performance Optimization How-to“. But let me repeat once again: this book is not a сооkbооk with magical recipes which can speed up your website. It is just a reference guide with recommendations for further detailed research and study.