Returning to my Geeky Roots in the Magento Community

Magento Imagine

Over the years as I've grown Creatuity from a single developer (myself) to a company employing over 25 people, my average day has changed quite a bit. Originally, I did everything - sales, billing and all of the development work. With my background in PHP development (I've been working with PHP for over 15 years - I have to catch myself when I talk to our new developers and development interns, because I have found myself saying things like "Back when I started, we didn't have all these object oriented features in PHP!"), the past 3-4 years as Creatuity has really grown have challenged me. I've found myself spending less and less time developing and writing code and more and more time doing things I had never done before that took me well outside of my comfort zone. It's been a great experience - I've learned more about business, management, hiring (and firing, unfortunately), marketing and what it truly means to be an executive in the past few years than I ever imagined I'd learn in a lifetime. I've also gone from working by myself to having an awesome team of developers, designers, writers, account managers, interns and other managers to work alongside. I'm incredibly proud of where the Creatuity team has taken us over the past 6 years.

Recently, I've found myself in an interesting position - I've stepped back from the breakneck 90+ hour weeks, working from the moment I woke up to the moment I finally crashed in the middle of the night on pushing Creatuity from a startup to a successful ecommerce development agency. We've grown to the point that I can allow myself a slightly less hectic schedule and know that our team will still work together to keep us moving in the right direction. As this has happened, I've been asking myself the best way I could spend the bit of additional time I find myself with.

The answer, so far, has surprised me a bit - while we have a team of Magento Certified Developers at Creatuity that do all the heavy lifting on our client projects, I find myself wanting to get back into development. And wow, has it changed. As I became more of a manager and less of a developer, I fell out of touch with the Magento development community; I didn't have or take the time to pursue Magento Certification or a spot on the Advisory Board when I was asked about that several years ago. To put it another way - the last time I was spending all of my time on Magento development, implementing Magento sites and customizing them myself as a developer, GitHub - where so many community members freely share their Magento work now - was so new that I didn't know of a single Magento developer using it. Most of us were still using svn, and there were no certifications, no study guides - learning Magento was a completely different experience.

In a lot of ways, these changes have put me off from getting back into the Magento development community - I feel somewhat like an outsider and fairly overwhelmed, and coming from my position as CEO of a Magento Solutions Partner, I am always worried it will seem like an intrusive attempt at social marketing by a company that should know better. However, I've been keeping up with quite a few Magento developers on Twitter and I'm slowly but surely sharpening my Magento development skills back up. Thanks to some awesome community members like Kalen JordanDaniel Fahlke, Phillip Jackson and Vinai Kopp, not only am I beginning to feel at home in the Magento dev community again, but I also have found some interesting opportunities surrounding my interests in writing, continuous integration and continuous deployment where even with my fairly rusty "hands on" Magento skills, I can contribute back to the community.

I'm renewing my interests in other areas as well - travel, craft breweries and writing in general - so expect to see a wide variety of topics from me here and on Twitter, but first and foremost, expect to hear about Magento and Magento development quite a bit. So, for my less geeky friends and family - my apologies, it's about to get pretty technical in here. But hey, you can always keep up with my less technical goings-on via my Facebook and Foursquare accounts. And to anyone in the Magento dev community reading this - send me a quick hello on Twitter and let me know what you're working on. I'd love to help out!

With special thanks to Nathan Castle for taking the excellent photo from Magento Imagine and releasing for the community to use via Flickr, which I've used as the cover photo for this post. Certainly the coolest photo I've seen of a large gathering of Magento geeks.