Archives for : tutorials

SailsJS and Waterline: native MongoDB queries and Waterline models

Here’s my experience with SailsJS, Waterline and MongoDB native queries. I like SailsJS and Waterline very much but there’s also room for improvement when things get serious.

There’s limitation in current Waterline that one cannot limit the fields in the output when MongoDB is used. Also the aggregation options are limited with Waterline. MongoDB on the other hand is very-very powerful database engine and once you learn how to aggregate then the possibilities seem endless.

My usecase is that I have to use native queries instead of Waterline’s but I also want the retrieved models have all those nice “instance methods” of Waterline model instances like “”. This example also gives you overview how to use native queries, aggregation.

So here’s very short guide to this. I hope it helps to save a couple of hours for other guys like me (who spent that time to figure it out:)).

Note! It uses another excellent, wonderful, genius etc pattern called Promises.

Part 2: Continuous Integration server to package Magento Extension with a click from JIRA

Starting Magento Connect extension packaging process from JIRA

When I wrote the first part of Continuous Integration server to package Magento Extension I didn’t know how to make it work with a click from JIRA. As you may know in JIRA there’s a way to release versions and trigger Bamboo builds during this release process. That’s what I was aiming – to make it work from JIRA so that it would NOT require any technical knowledge from let’s say Project Manager or Release Manager. I didn’t know it yesterday but here at MageFlow we have a learning mindset. I know it today:)

First – there are now 2 build plans configured in our Bamboo for our MageFlowConnect extension:

  1. “continuous builds” or “CI builds” that are triggered by commits that are made to the git repository that contains MFX code.
  2. “release builds” or “manual builds” that are triggered by clicking “Release” in JIRA

There are 2 main problems with creating Magento extension packages automatically:

  1. when and how to update extension’s version number (in module’s etc/config.xml and in package.xml mentioned in previous post)
  2. how to update release notes inside package.xml. However this one is not mandatory and it’s not resolved yet by us either.


Install xsltproc to your build server and configure an executable “XSLTProc” in Bamboo.

Updating version numbers

In Part 1 I’ve created a XSL stylesheet that does the job of replacing extension version number in package.xml. Exactly the same XSL can be used to replace version number in extension’s etc/config.xml, too.

In your “CI build” process you may want to have extension version number increased with every build automatically. So that’s what we do  – we set the extension version number to that already defined in package.xml with added Bamboo build number. For example if package.xml contains version number 1.1.3 and Bamboo build # is 43 then the final version number of that extension build would be

In order to replace version numbers in the “CI build” process add following 2 XSLTProc tasks to the build job in Bamboo:

  1. –output public/var/connect/package.xml –stringparam package_version ${bamboo.buildNumber} utils/update_version.xsl public/var/connect/package.xml
  2. –output public/app/code/community/Mageflow/Connect/etc/config.xml –stringparam package_version ${bamboo.buildNumber} utils/update_version.xsl public/app/code/community/Mageflow/Connect/etc/config.xml

First one appends ${bamboo.buildNumber} to existing version number (e.g 1.1.3) in package.xml while second does the same in etc/config.xml

In order to replace version numbers in the “Release build” (build triggered from JIRA) process add following 2 XSLTProc tasks to the build job in Bamboo:

  1. –output public/var/connect/package.xml –stringparam package_version ${bamboo.jira.version} utils/update_version.xsl public/var/connect/package.xml
  2. –output public/app/code/community/Mageflow/Connect/etc/config.xml –stringparam package_version ${bamboo.jira.version} utils/update_version.xsl public/app/code/community/Mageflow/Connect/etc/config.xml

First replaces version in package.xml with the version number specified in JIRA (let’s say 1.1.4) while second does the same in extension’s etc/config.xml

That’s it!:)

Please feel free to comment or send me questions directly.



Continuous Integration server to package Magento Extension

Here’s the situation.

MageFlow is developing Magento Extension called MageFlow Connector. It’s an integration extension that is used to connect a Magento Instance to MageFlow. We are using Agile development processes and state-of-the-art tools by Atlassian like JIRA, Confluence, BitBucket, Bamboo and others. Bamboo is used as build and deployment server that automates a lot of development operations incl building and packaging our software.

Packaging Magento extensions – standard method

Usually Magento extensions are packaged in Magento backend. There’s a form that needs to be filled in with information about specific extension like version number, release notes, files and folders that should be packaged etc. After that you need to upload your extension to Magento Connect and publish it.

It’s pretty good tool but it requires manual work in order to create a package. However in our case we just despise any manual work:) Everything should be automated to max. That’s also why we even started creating MageFlow. Anyway …

Packaging Magento extensions with Bamboo CI

Packaging an extension with Bamboo requires some manual labor too. That cannot be avoided in my opinion. However …

Here’s my wild guess … With a really tight integration between JIRA and Bamboo and some tricks/scripts full automation could be achieved on the way from clicking “Create release” in JIRA to a fully packaged extension as an artifact of a Bamboo build. But right now it’s bit too much work for too little to gain.

But – keeping my head cold and not aiming 100% automation yet I created a following way to package an extension with Bamboo CI.


GIT. For extension development we also use modman – a very useful tool for every Magento developer provided by Colin Mollenhour. It is also assumed that you have development environment ready in your local machine or elsewhere where you can prepare the package metainfo.

You also need to have a (preferred – vanilla) Magento (DevMagento) codebase in a GIT repository and you need to have YourExtension in a GIT repository. Make sure your DevMagento works fine and you can log in to the backend (admin).

Let’s name these GIT repositories like that for example:

DevMagento –


Prepare Magento extension and modman

First you need to add MyExtension to DevMagento by using modman. In terminal do:

cd /srv/vhosts/magento
modman init
modman clone

Second you need to create MyExtension XML metadata for Magento Connect package. This is done with the Magento Connect tool in Magento backend. Go to System->Magento Connect->Package extensions. Fill in all required fields there. Add version, release notes, files and folders, authors, dependencies etc. Click on “Save” button.

No back to Terminal:

cd /srv/vhosts/magento
ls public/var/connect

You see 2 very important files there now:

MyExtension.xml and package.xml

A mindnote here that package.xml will be overwritten if you package another extension in the backend of the same Magento while being in the same GIT branch.

Now create var/connect folder in your modmanned extension folder and move the files there:

cd /srv/vhosts/magento/.modman/my_extension
mkdir -p var/connect
mv ../../public/var/connect/MyExtension.xml ../../public/var/connect/package.xml var/connect/

Add these files to GIT and to your modman file.

Run modman update to re-create these files under Magento var/connect folder as symlinks:

cd /srv/vhosts/magento
modman update my_extension

Run a packaging test from command line to see if it works:

cd /srv/vhosts/magento/public
./mage package /srv/vhosts/magento/public/var/connect/package.xml
Done building package

It’s needless to say that you need to “git add”, “git commit” and “git push” your stuff etc. Now we’re almost ready to make Bamboo CI to create MyExtension-1.0.0.tgz. Also – see paragraph below about Magento bug after you finish next paragraph about configuring Bamboo.

Configure Bamboo CI

We are using standalone Bamboo CI in our own server. I’m not sure if everything looks the same in the ondemand solution…

Running unit tests on your Magento extension is not covered by this post. However I’m planning another post about this topic, too.

Install modman on your build server and add it as Bamboo executable if you haven’t done so yet.

In Bamboo create a new build plan called My Extension with plan key MYX. (Bamboo upper case plan keys and thus build paths with uppercase characters is where the Magento bug will strike in with its forced lowercase paths).

Add 2 repositories to your Build plan:

  1. DevMagento repository
  2. MyExtension repository

Make your build plan be triggered by periodically scanning the MyExtension repository for changes.

Configure build steps

Step 1: checkout source code from DevMagento repository. You may want to check out clean repo each time. It’s quite quick and you don’t build that extension too often. The reason is that otherwise next step will complain.

Step 2: run modman init. I.e choose modman executable and add “init” as command argument.

Step 3: run modman clone. Choose modman executable and add “clone” as command argument

Step 4: Add a script as build step with ${} as an argument to that command. The script is provided in this gist:

This script does 2 things:

  1. it runs mage script that creates Magento package
  2. it moves created tgz package from modmanned extension var/connect folder to Magento’s var/connect folder. The point is that Magento’s Package.php that creates the package uses realpath() PHP function. realpath() resolves symlinks created by modman and that’s why the .tgz package is created under .modman/my_extension/var/connect, not under public/var/connect.

After configuring build steps configure your build artifacts. Specify public/var/connect/ as artifact location and *.tgz as Copy pattern. You can make the artifacts shared so that a Bamboo Deployment plan can use the artifacts and deploy them to – let’s say – your test server;) But that’s another whole story …


Bug in Magento packaging scripts

NB! There’s a bug/misdesign in Magento packaging scripts. The solution is provided as a gist:

You may need to fix it in 2 places: under lib and under download. That’s why I recommended to use a vanilla Magento repository because you need to fix core library files. Create a special Magento repository, fix the bug there and use this Magento for packaging your extensions.


Alan Storm has created a good piece of software that enables creation of a Magento extension package from command line. However I found it too late and I’m not sure about 100% match with my problem.


It’s a pretty long post that covers quite complex issues. Feel free to leave a comment here or write me directly if you have any questions or thoughts about it.


Update: please see Part 2 of the same topic.

Setting up Magento development environment, step by step. Part 3: Naming and structure

Naming and structure

Welcome back to Measure9 blog. Here I continue with article series “Setting up Magento development environment, step by step“. Please read Part 1 and Part 2, too.

I write about naming of things in this post. It’s important, it’s very important because in the long run it defines how you and you’re colleagues are going to talk about things, how you point at things and so on. It’s important to use common terms to build common understanding. Also I’ll explain the importance of SSH keys. I’ve learned to name things thru standards, conventions used in frameworks and long time industry-experience.

I’d like to start with this infamous and very good quote by Phil Karlton:

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.

General rules about naming

  1. Never ever use special characters, other than ASCII letters in your file and folder names. Regardless of what Operating Systems claim there will be problems as soon as you move files around between different platforms and systems. I guarantee that. I’ll buy you a beer if you can prove that you’ll never had any problems with file/folder names with special characters 🙂 It’s especially important in non-English countries like Estonia (we have õ, ä, ö, ü), Germany, Sweden, Russia… Basically anywhere outside US and UK. (Side note – regardless of file names your application, your code, your files etc must be in / support UTF-8. That’s a standard.)
  2. Be very careful with case of names, especially when you’re working between case sensitive (all Linuxes), partly case sensitive (OSX) and case insensitive systems (Windows). Always prefer lower case where possible but as you know – Magento’s and Zend’s standards state some rules about class names etc. So just be careful and consistent.
  3. Avoid spaces in file and folder names.
  4. www-prefix is so-20th-century. My suggestion is to phase it out and let it go …

Development folders

Magento development folders/repositories/virtual hosts are kept under /srv/vhosts. Under that folder there are project folders. Usually one project has one, main domain name and it makes sense to name your development folder according to that. It’s easy to remember and it’s unique. Let’s say your customer is So your folder structure would look like this (explanation is below):


conf – virtual host configuration and other configuration files are in this folder

database – database change scripts, temporary dumps and other database-related stuff this is here

doc – here is project and code documentation (for example generated by ApiGen). Don’t hesitate to use external tools like Google Drive and a WIKI for documentation!

design – here are working PSD files of the theme, HTML templates etc, bought themes, generated/exported graphics, icons etc.

keys – keep SSL certificate keys and other keys in this folder. Here you can also keep project-related passwords in an encrypted file if you’re old-fashioned;)

public – this is the document root of your Magento. In other words this is the public folder that is served by your web server to end users. There are lots of other names that are used for this folder like html, pub, htdocs and so on. I decided to stick to public because it’s used in Zend Framework 2 and it says what it is. Always do remember that this folder is public, publicly accessible!

util – utility and helper scripts are kept in this folder.

Development hostnames (virtual hosts)

Most developers are working in local development machine and this tutorial assumes this way of working. In some cases people use hostnames like or example.local in their local development machine and these names are pointing to i.e localhost. There are reasons to do like this but this is not good when you need to test integrations like Oauth. Google’s API Console does not support .local domain names. That’s why I suggest usage of following naming structure: – point it to in your /etc/hosts file. – point it to your test server in DNS.

However usually the DNS is under customer’s control and making changes there is time consuming or impossible. To overcome that you need to use YOUR domain for development and your own / your ISP-s DNS. If that’s the case you could use common naming scheme for development and test: – point it to – point to to your test-server’s IP-address – staging is also called pre-live. It’s an exact copy of live environment but usually it’s using less hardware / virtual servers. It’s the server where content and changes are staged before deploying these to production system (which is or

If customer is having problems with DNS configuration then you can use your own DNS for the staging site also: – point it to the staging server’s IP-address

Usernames, passwords

My recommendation is to use e-mail addresses as usernames everywhere where possible. It’s not possible in most Linux shells but it’s possible in Magento’s frontend and backend. People, I mean – nerds and hackers, use all kinds of nicknames but it’s kind of … childish. Isn’t it? So use your e-mail as username in all your Magento solutions (BE and FE) and you and your colleagues know that and they don’t have to ask you every time. Easy to remember and easy to use!

About passwords. Try to avoid them as much as possible. They are just so insecure. Implement Oauth for Magento’s FE and BE login. Ask me if you need help with that.

If you need to create a password for a user for any reason then:

  1. make it complex (at least 12 characters, uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special symbols in it).
  2. make it expired so user must change it at next login and you don’t need to know it.
passwd -e username

This command would expire password for username  and she will be prompted for password change at her next login.

Another useful command is

passwd -d username

That command would remove password from the user’s account so that user can login with SSH key’s only (see below).

In Magento backend create a random password for your colleagues, forget it right there and ask your colleagues to use “Forgot password?” link to reset their password. You’ll test e-mail functionality of your Magento server this way, too 😉

SSH keys, logins, aliases

SSH keys are an excellent way to login without passwords. There is one very important thing to be remember about SSH key pairs:

SSH private key MUST NEVER leave the machine where it was created.

Translation to English: use SSH private key only on that machine where it was created. If you need another one, generate it and distribute another public key.

SSH key pairs can be generated with a simple command:


The default values are good in most cases. After you generate the key pair you will have 2 keys in your ~/.ssh folder:

  1. private key
  2. public key

The public key is “inherited” from the private key. Public key as the name says is public. After generating keys you need to distribute the public key to the servers where you want to log in. Usually the public key must be appended to the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys. In Linux systems there is also command ssh-copy-id that is meant for distributing your public key. Use your password for the last time to distribute your public key and forget/delete your password:)

How to create headless virtualbox machine with Debian Wheezy

I’ve created a small helper script for those who want to be able to create VirtualBox virtual machine from command line via SSH and RDP.


As a prerequisite you need to download Debian’s network install CD image.

The script

Here’s the script and I’ll explain it below line by line:

How it works?

In short it works so that you run this script in your existing Linux and you give virtual machine name as the only parameter. It creates a new virtual machine with pretty safe values that all can be changed later (e.g amount of memory).

First we do initialization, check the scripts arguments and assign the first argument as VMNAME variable:

if test $# != 1; then
echo "Usage: $0 vm_name"
exit 0

Then we create and register new virtual machine of type 64bit Debian:

vboxmanage createvm --name $VMNAME --ostype Debian_64 --register

Then we allocate RAM, set power management, set DVD as first booting device, set network in bridged mode and we also specify that the machine would have 2 CPU-s with possibility to hotplug CPU-s:

vboxmanage modifyvm $VMNAME --memory 512 --acpi on --boot1 dvd --nic1 bridged --bridgeadapter1 eth0 --nictype1 virtio --cpus 2 --cpuhotplug on

After that hard drive image is created with size of 4 gigabytes. Make it larger if you have plenty of disk space handy.

vboxmanage createhd --filename ~/VirtualBox\ VMs/testvm/$VMNAME-disk01.vdi --size 4096 --variant Standard

Then we create 2 controllers, one for harddisks (SATA) and the other for CD/DVD (IDE):

vboxmanage storagectl $VMNAME --name "SATA controller" --add sata
vboxmanage storagectl $VMNAME --name "IDE controller" --add ide

Then we attach the newly created hard disk to the controller:

vboxmanage storageattach $VMNAME --storagectl "SATA controller" --port 0 --device 0 --type hdd --medium ~/VirtualBox\ VMs/$VMNAME/$VMNAME-disk01.vdi

As a last thing we attach the downloaded Debian 7 network installation CD image:

vboxmanage storageattach $VMNAME --storagectl "IDE controller" --port 1 --device 0 --type dvddrive --medium /mnt/raid/soft/debian-7.2.0-amd64-netinst.iso

… and we start the virtual machine:

vboxheadless -s $VMNAME &

You’ll be displayed a message similar to this one:

VRDE server is listening on port 3389.

Open a Remote Desktop Client and connect to your host machine’s IP and port 3389. You will see Debian’s installation screen. Install it and off you go!:)

Later you may want to set the default boot device to harddisk instead of DVD:

vboxmanage modifyvm $VMNAME --boot1 disk

Building GNUPG for PHP 5.5 on OSX

It’s quite tricky to build gnupg php extension on OSX. I’m using homebrew, so I installed necessary dependencies first:

brew install gpgme

This goes well as most things with brew.

Then I’m trying to install GNUPG PHP PECL extension as the instructions tell me to do:

sudo pecl install gnupg


I get weird errors like these:

duplicate symbol _gnupg_keylistiterator_class_entry in:
duplicate symbol _gnupg_class_entry in:
ld: 2 duplicate symbols for architecture x86_64
clang: error: linker command failed with exit code 1 (use -v to see invocation)
make: *** [] Error 1
ERROR: `make' failed

“Tough luck”, I think. But wait… After some googling around PHP bugs I got some hints.

So here’s what you got to do:

  1. download pecl extension source code
  2. fix 2 lines in .h and .c files
  3. phpize, configure and make
  4. configure PHP extension
  5. == Profit
pecl download gnupg

In my case it downloads files to /Users/sven/soft/php-5.5.4/ext/gnupg-1.3.3/gnupg-1.3.3.tgz

Unpack the archive:

tar xzf gnupg-1.3.3/gnupg-1.3.3.tgz
cd gnupg-1.3.3

Open file php_gnupg.h and add comments and explanation around line 50:

/* moved next line to gnupg.c
zend_class_entry *gnupg_class_entry;

Copy the line zend_class_entry *gnupg_class_entry; to buffer. Save and exit.

Open file gnupg.c:

Find lines (around 177) and paste copied buffer so it looks like this:

zend_class_entry *gnupg_class_entry;
/* {{{ objects_new */
zend_object_value gnupg_obj_new(zend_class_entry *class_type TSRMLS_DC){

Do similar things with files gnupg_keylistiterator.c and php_gnupg_keylistiterator.h.

Open file  php_gnupg_keylistiterator.h around line 69:

/* moved next line to gnupg_keylistiterator.c
 zend_class_entry *gnupg_keylistiterator_class_entry;

Copy line zend_class_entry *gnupg_keylistiterator_class_entry; to buffer. Save and exit.

Open file gnupg_keylistiterator.c around line 72 and make it look like this by pasting buffer:

zend_class_entry *gnupg_keylistiterator_class_entry;
/* {{{ keylistiterator_objects_new */
zend_object_value gnupg_keylistiterator_objects_new(zend_class_entry *class_type TSRMLS_DC){

Save and exit.

Configure, build and install: ./configure make clean && make make install

Now you should have php extension somewhere. I have it in my Cellar:


Wherever it is, copy the path to buffer.

Open a new file (your php-s conf.d may be somewhere else!)

vim /usr/local/etc/php/5.5/conf.d/ext-gnupg.ini

And add following lines there:



Save and exit. Be sure to replace path if your is somewhere else.

Test your php:

php --ri gnupg

It should display something like this:

gnupg support => enabled
GPGme Version => 1.4.3
Extension Version => 1.3.3-dev





Resolving Magento extension rewrite conflicts using traits

A bit of history

On 5th of September I sent out a tweet:

Guys, this is serious. I guess, I just resolved Magento’s single intheritance problem by using traits. Details later. #magento #worksforme.

Those who have been serious in hacking Magento and 3rd party extensions know well what I’m talking about. But please let me explain further.

Magento extension rewrite conflicts

You have a Magento instance. You have created a custom module My_Custom that happens to rewrite a core model, let’s say Mage_Catalog_Model_Product. So you have following lines in your module’s config.xml:

Then you have have a 3rd party extension that rewrites the same core class. You’re stuck now? Not quite. You now have 3 good methods to fix the problem. So good so far. But then you need another 3rd party extension that does the same – rewrites catalog/product. Now you’re stuck, right!?
You cannot make your code extend the 1st extension because the the second wouldn’t work and you cannot make yours to extend the second either because the 1st wouldn’t work then. Chicken and egg problem or “nokk kinni, saba lahti” as we say in Estonian.

The solution – PHP 5 feature “traits”

There’s a solution to PHP’s single inheritance feature and Magento rewrites that together make a problem. The solution is achieved by utilizing PHP 5.4 (or newer) feature called traits. So get a coffee (it’s pretty long post) and let’s start.
We have a situation where 3 classes want to rewrite and extend Magento’s Mage_Catalog_Model_Product:
My_Custom_Model_Product (this is mine that I can freely change)
Let’s say Extension_A_Model_Product adds the following methods to catalog/product:
And let’s assume Extension_B_Model_Product wants to add the following methods to catalog/product:
And at last my custom module wants to add something extra to the core product model:

The idea is to make only My_Custom_Model_Product to rewrite catalog/product or at least to be the first one selected for rewrites. The other 2 3rd party module classes would just extend it and be used inside my product model via traits.

Add dependencies to your module

First it’s necessary to add dependencies to your module XML. This is to ensure the loading order of classes and rewrites.

Add traits

Folder Traits should be created under extension’s folder in similar manner to Block, Product and Helper:
For naming we follow the same logic as other Magento building blocks but there’s no shorthand for traits as it exists for blocks, models and helpers (e.g catalog/product etc). No worries, the trait would still be found and loaded by the autoloader.
Under that folder create the trait folders and files for classes Extension_A_Model_Product and Extension_B_Model_Product


Trait for Extension_A_Model_Product

Trait for Extension_B_Model_Product

Add traits to My_Custom_Model_Product

Voilaa!:) Now you have all the 3rd party module functionality available in your extension. When Magento is calling getModel(‘catalog/product’) it will actually load My_Custom_Model_Product. My_Custom_Model_Product extends Mage_Catalog_Model_Product and it also exposes all methods from Extension_A_Model_Product and Extension_B_Model_Product.

A note about traits

With traits you can avoid duplicating original class method implementation’s part. You’ll just create a proxy for original class method’s thru the trait. However you need to maintain the traits whenever Extension_A or Extension_B are upgraded or changed. So you should document it that you created traits and solved multiple rewrite problem this way. Then you can look up the documentation when doing upgrade to extensions next time.

As always – feedback is welcome!

Setting up Magento development environment, step by step. Part 1: Introduction

Intro to article series

In this serie of articles I’m going to provide step by step instructions for setting up a fully working development environment for your Magento (or actually ANY PHP5) development project.
I start from the lowest level – from choosing the hardware and the article series will be finished with tips for tuning your Nginx, PHP5 and MySQL (MariaDB) to squeeze out the maximum performance that you need whole developing Magento.

About naming things

Here and there I call the database server as “MySQL” but what I mean is MariaDB 5.5.
Here and there I may call PHP5-FPM “PHP5” for the sake of shortness.
When I say PHP or PHP5 I mean the most recent version PHP 5.5.
OSX – I mean the current official version 10.8 Mountain Lion as of time of writing this post.
Linux – I mean Debian 7 – “Wheezy”.

Words of warning or The Disclaimer

First – nobody is (unfortunately:)) paying me anything to promote their software. All choices have been made based on my loooong experience in this industry and some research I’ve done before and during writing if this article series. I’ll try to provide some more justification of choices made under every section for every important component.
Everything described in this blog must be taken with caution. I mean – think twice (and measure 9 times!) before you put anything to production environments. I don’t take any responsibility or blame for data loss or loss of your job or whatever loss that may or may not be caused by following my instructions. In short – I write whatever I want and you’re the one that must think before executing anything written here. This is called “talupojatarkus” or “common sense” in Estonia🙂

Now when this is clear let’s get the hands dirty!

The structure of articles

I’ll give you instructions for 2 major development platforms – Linux and OSX. In general these 2 are perfect platforms for web development. One is free and open source while the other is commercial yet very good.  So you have choice.
The articles are organised like this where all major bullets are articles:

  1. Introduction (current article)
    1. A few words about suitable hardware
    2. No promises made but still … (planning following articles)
  2. Underlying systems and processes
    1. Development process
    2. Version control process
    3. Choosing hardware and installing operating system
    4. Remove unwanted stuff
    5. Command line, Terminal app
  3. Naming and structure
    1. Development folders
    2. Development hostnames (virtual hosts)
    3. Usernames, passwords
    4. SSH keys
  4. Components installation & configuration
    1. MariaDB
    2. PHP5-FPM
    3. Socket or TCP?
    4. Nginx
    5. a special file /etc/hosts
    6. Openssl for HTTPS
    7. keys, self-generated certificates
    8. optional – phpMyAdmin
  5. Source Code Version Control
    1. git …
    2. … or svn. No and why?
    3. Bitbucket
    4. Github
    5. Beanstalk
  6. Security
    1. Bind MySQL to localhost
    2. Keep your sites closed when in public WIFI-s
    3. Use HTTPS
  7. Installing Magento
    1. create database, db user and password
    2. file permissions
    3. special folders
    4. .gitignore
    5. useful utilities
  8. Choosing the IDE
    1. Netbeans
    2. PHPStorm
    3. Others (Komodo, Zend Studio)
  9. Setting up xDebug for debugging your solution
    1. “Local” remote debugger
    2. Breakpoints
    3. Call stack
    4. Variables
    5. Remote debugger
  10. Performance tuning, tips and tricks
    1. MariaDB
    2. Nginx
    3. PHP5-FPM
I leave myself freedom to make improvements to the topics while the serie is developing. 

A few words about suitable hardware

Currently I use Macbook Air with 4 GB RAM and I must say it’s too little. Magento is a big and hungry beast , all IDE-s are in hunger for more and more memory (Java!) and when you want to use xDebug then you’re pretty much stuck. So MB Air can almost do with SSD saving the day but my next machine will be something with 8 GB of RAM or more. I guess nobody’s talking about desktops nowadays any more, right? Still – an iMac is good choice in case you don’t need to move around to much. Since I do a lot of consultation and solutions architecture I have to be in the meetings and it would be a bit tedious to haul an Imac or – even worse – a PC with a monitor around, right…:) OK, I’m joking but in short – a good laptop is a good choice nowadays. Choose a PC laptop or a Mac laptop based on budget or whatever the reasons are – I’ll provide instructions for both.

No promises made but still …

As a busy guy I cannot make big promises but I’ll do my best to provide you a minimum 1 article a week. Hopefully I can do better than this. Feedback is very much appreciated as my ultimate goal is to develop a solution that would be kind of standard for all Magento development projects that are yet to be launched. So all help and feedback and comments are welcome.

Provide feedback

Here’s the first request to you, dear readers – please provide your wishes in the comments about what you’d like to read about in this serie or if there’s anything important that I forgot from the TOC. Thanks!

Magento solution development in distributed environment


Magento solutions get bigger and more complex, at least here at Eepohs. Magento development requires multiple displines like Frontend Development (JS, CSS, HTML, XML etc), Backend Development (PHP, JS, XML etc), System Integration (JSON, XML, REST, SOAP, (s)FTP etc…). So it’s quite obvious that Magento development is rather teamwork than a play of single freelancers. Freelancers can take your solution to some limit but sooner or later you need to hire a team that can support solution and take it further on.


There are a couple of tools that are crucial for teamwork and especially important when your team is not sitting together but is distributed in the room and possibly in time also. The tools for successful teamwork are:
– issue management tool – JIRA
– version control tool – GIT
– communication tool – Skype
– an IDE – Netbeans


When you have more than 1 developer you need a process. In fact you’d need a process when you’re working alone, too but it’s not that stringent in this case.
You have several processes while doing development:
– version control process and strategy
– issue management process
– general workflow
– development itself – writing code, chasing bugs, debugging etc.
– quality assurance (QA)
– deployment process

The latter seems to be quite tough because there’s a lot to be deployed between different stages and instances.
There are 4 stages (and n different Magento instances in each) in Magento development cycle
– development (local developer machine, local server)
– testing (internal testing by the QA team)
– staging or pre-live (pre-live testing by the QA team and the customer)
– live

Deployment of changes


A note about popular alternative – Subversion

Subversion is not good for Magento development for 2 reasons:
  1. it must be connected to central server. So you cannot version your files while working offline
  2. svn creates its own special control folder .svn with a lot of extra files inside every folder in Magento. Magento codebase is huge and svn creates a very big extra overhead for your filesystem. It makes it painfully slow and tedious.
  3. … I won’t start rant about merging in svn and git here…:)
  4. And yes – I have used svn, A LOT. So I know what I’m talking about:)

Magento specific issues a.k.a the Bad News

Attribute sets and attributes

How to manage attribute set and attribute migration between 4 stages described above?

The 2 above are actually quite simple to resolve. Magento offers excellent tools for that – install/update scripts. Just add your attributes and sets via install/update scripts and they will get to all environments automatically when code is deployed there.

Stores and Content

Store is the most crucial entity. Everything is depending on that, even configuration and content.


That’s a tough one. How to version configuration? How to move conf changes from one Magento to the other?

Magento Deployment tools a.k.a the Good News

There’s a cure for all these issues above, though… I’ll shed some light to available tools in the upcoming posts.

Write better log when developing Magento extensions

I’ve noticed that just a few developers add proper logging to their Magento extensions and libraries. Also – Magento core team is not part of those developers. Their logging habits are quite poor. I’m sorry, guys, but Magento is really bad when it comes to logging. Compare it to any J2EE project with proper Log4J set up and you’ll see the difference. Sometimes it’s good to learn from those old n’ bald Java guys, also:) OK, so much ranting this time… Now to the logging.

Is I said – Magento gives you tough times when it comes to debugging and searching for problems. Basically it just does not output any useful info to log files. It makes our – developers’ – life hard.

It is in our own hands to do it better because there are tools existing in Magento but these are regrettably underused.

What needs to be logged?

First – all problems and errors.
Whenever you use try/catch then please do write exception to log. Please do write all requests to API-s and responses. This would really help. There’s a special helper for logging exceptions: Mage::logException(Exception $e)
Use at least that one although it just spits randomly formatted Exception to var/log/exception.log. I recommend to use the solution below for exception logging also. Just change the Zend log priority to Zend_Log::CRIT or Zend_Log:ERR.

Second – debug log. When you develop anything then it’s really good to log output of some methods, input parameters that come from Ajax queries and so on. So it’s partly your little helper during development and it’s also part of good coding practices.

Here I have an advice for you about how to log. Do it like this and I’ll exlain why:

Mage::log(sprintf('%s(%s): %s', __METHOD__, __LINE__, print_r($var, true)), Zend_Log::DEBUG, 'mymodule.log');

Now I explain the format. After you have written a considerable amount of code you start noticing that you don’t need some debug lines any more. When you do logging without __METHOD__ and __LINE__ then you need to search thru all your source to find where the f*** did you add that line that outputs “OK” to log… And of course it just helps to discover problems quicker when you see __METHOD__ (which contains class (==file) information) and the line number in the code.
$var in print_r is your variable that you want to log. Be careful with large Magento objects! Because Magento object model is built so that it contains almost everything in every object and does that recursively then it would kill your PHP. Be warned!
Then there’s Zend_Log::DEBUG which is log priority level. Magento does not do smart logging that would consider log priority levels. But at least the log priority is displayed in the log file because Magento’s self log format is like that:
$format = '%timestamp% %priorityName% (%priority%): %message%' . PHP_EOL;

And the last parameter is file name. I support module-based logging. When I’m in a good mood I do logging to 2 files: my module’s log file and system.log. So the system.log would contain ALL logs and my module’s log file would contain logs from my module only.

Third – when you want to get really anal regarding all possible issues in your code then you want to log all notifications, too.

When in trouble then there’s never too much log. It’s really easy to set up log rotation in Linux or OSX systems so the large files aren’t a problem (now I gave you an idea for a good Magento extension;))