MageTalk Episode 203 – Everybody Hates Their Ecommerce Platform

The boys are back with a live episode in which they talk about how everyone hates their eCommerce platform, the state of the Magento ecosystem, and the true worth of customer lifetime value.

Listen now!

Show Notes

It’s been a minute, but the boys are back with some of that quality eCommerce Podcast Content that you love them for.

You can also watch the video Livestream of this episode here.

1:04 Lots of Finger Points

In true MageTalk fashion, Phillip and Kalen start this episode with pointing, thumbing, and a Barack Obama impression.

Because how else would they start the episode?

3:50 Facebook Timeline Creepin’

Kalen saw a video on his Facebook timeline that showed Phillip’s face promoting Future Commerce. Phillip says that he learned it from Kalen Jordan Content Creation Train.

4:35 Phillip At CommerceNext

Phillip recently went to a conference entitled CommerceNext and says it was a very interesting show.

It was founded by three people from three separate areas of the ecosystem: Scott Silverman, Allan Dick, and Veronica Sonsev.

6:53 The Famous Twitter Thread

Phillip posted a tweet from CommerceNext that started quite the Twitter thread.

This thread also named this episode.

Kalen feels like Phillip is going beyond just being Magento-centric and getting to the mindset of what the consumer or retailer really care about.

Phillip finds it refreshing to know that the conversations he has with people that are frustrated show that everyone has pain because we are all doing things that are very difficult. Different platforms solve different problems differently from others, and this is a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

The desire for innovation and execution from a merchant is at a pace where the technology platforms cannot keep up with it.

-Phillip Jackson

10:18 Alibaba vs. Amazon

Kalen was watching an interview with Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba, in which he was talking about the differences between Amazon and Alibaba.

Jack Ma stated that Alibaba is focusing on empowering their ecosystem.

12:25 Some of the Hard Questions

Jesse Tyler (@jessebtyler) asked Phillip to get into more detail regarding advice for each platform.

A lot of people don’t realize that Magento is a legacy product, and whether it’s true or not, Mark Lavelle went on a rant about having the “youngest codebase in the entire ecosystem”.

eCommerce is now a service and these problems aren’t anyone’s fault but the customer. If you want to blame anyone, blame the customer because they have the expectations of eCommerce platforms that are leading to these issues.

16:44 The Truth of the Matter

Phillip boldly points out that it is a customer expectation that you are cloud-first. Magento can say that they are cloud-first, but so many of the problems we have in the ecosystem are around the installed software.

In honor of Kalen’s Obama impression.

Kalen says that most of the time when you have an enterprise software product, it’s the first-party company that does the hosting for you.

Kalen also points out that Phillip is doing a great job of being honest about a topic that is hard to talk about.

23:11 Flexing Those Entrepreneurial Muscles

Both Kalen and Phillip have extensive experience in the Entrepreneurial space, and Phillip states that there is only so much pain he is willing to endure when building an eCommerce site. When he thinks about the pain that retailers have to undergo to do simple things in a Magento context, a lot of that pain would be relieved through PWA.

Empathy is key.

Karen Baker (@wsakaren) also makes an appearance in the comments.

29:45 A Vestige of the Past

The design pattern of developer useability is a vestige of the way that we did opensource five years ago.

-Phillip Jackson

Phillip breaks down a lot of the developmental factors that locked Magento into a certain era of development.

Kalen brings up that the strength of the Magento community has been the developer ecosystem, which can be a huge boon if it aligns with the trajectory of the platform but can also be detrimental if the inertia takes you in a direction that is the opposite of the market.

Phillip gives a shoutout to Mark Lewis (@mrloo) and Emily Pepperman (@bkbeltgal).

Phillip also mentions how Magento announces things so early that people eventually forget about them before they launch.

36:13 So Many Choices

Phillip brings up how at Something Digital they have recently been doing a lot of Shopify work and that they are actively talking to their customers all the time about the way that they are choosing their platform.

You shouldn’t choose a platform by budget; you should choose a platform based on what your needs are.

-Phillip Jackson

Everybody’s got pain, some pains are different than others.

When Phillip is at a Magento focused conference, he has noticed that the conversation is always about the platform and the technology that powers it. At broader retail conferences that aren’t focused on Magento, he hears conversations that are at the next level that are about people and relationships.

38:20 The Actual Value of Lifetime Value

Rent the Runway COO Maureen Sullivan opened CommerceNext and said that their original business strategy was to rent runway fashion directly to consumers. Brands were offended by this at first, but Rent the Runway stuck to their guns and pushed to make relationships directly with the brands.

They played the long game to win the trust of the brand.

The average value of a Starbucks order is $3.80, but the lifetime value of a Starbucks customer is $14,000.

Phillip goes on to say that companies he works with are all working to make their quarter numbers instead of focusing on the lifetime value of customers.

44:26 Developer to Business Owner

Kalen was speaking to a developer friend of his who was very inspired by Gary V’s talk at Imagine. This developer launched an eCommerce business and loves the idea of building a brand that the community cares about and how some of the other businesses in that niche did not have the best experiences.

Phillip goes on to say that a lot of people in this industry connect with the idea of entrepreneurship.

In Kalen’s case, he has always produced something that is his own and is connected to the community that he cares about.

46:28 Meet Magento New York Updates

Kalen’s buddy Aaron Sheehan (@AaronSheehan) is giving a talk at Meet Magento New York about RFP Processes.

Don’t Fear the RFP-er.

Kalen connects coupon codes with the branding discussion the boys had earlier about premium brands.

If you’re a premium brand, you don’t want to dilute your value by being discounted all the time.

-Phillip Jackson

49:57 The Dish on Reviews

Kalen saw the below tweet from Mike Sudyk (@sudyk).

Kalen gets asked from time to time about the best way to structure reviews and gives some of his insights into the best way to leverage your reviews.




MageTalk Episode 202 – “Hoboken No Jokin”

In this episode, the boys get giddy over a positive review, discuss the trials and tribulations of hiring remotely, and talk about the newly created consultant landscape that comes with GDPR.

Listen Now! Or watch the video livestream here.

1:04 Bet You Weren’t Expecting Some Gore

Phillip starts this episode off with a bang by showing us the aftermath of a spill he took while riding his bike.

I guess that’s extra incentive to watch the video live stream…

Also, Kalen is educated on the wonders of Halo Top. Kalen also says that they need to hire someone to pull up images on Google in real-time so that viewers at home can see the images.

Phillip also talks about his love for The Good Place.

5:45 Meet Magento New York

Phillip spots Eric Hileman (@ericvhileman) from MageMojo in the chat and pulls off a pretty fluid segue to Meet Magento New York.

This year, the event takes place on September 5th and 6th in New York and has an awesome list of speakers including Ivan Chepurnyi (@IvanChepurnyi, Fillip Rakowski (@filrakowski, Jisse Reitsma (@jissereitsma), and many more!

Get your tickets now!

10:37 Another Great Review

Kalen brings up that MageTalk got another great review on Apple Podcasts.

Central to the Magento Community

Phillip and Kalen have such great on-air chemistry and banter that keeps listeners engaged throughout the whole podcast and wanting more. You feel a personal connection as if we are all sitting together at an Imagine lunch talking about our challenges, learnings, and airing of grievances. Definitely fan favorite of the Magento community!
-HobokenNoJokin, 07/22/2019

It seems like if you leave a review, you get an episode titled after you. Just saying…

In typical fashion, the boys play grammar police and analyze the review.

There are a handful of MageTalk listeners out in Hoboken, such as Redstage.

Also, Kalen and Phillip challenge you all to leave some well constructed, grammatically perfect, and meaningful reviews.

Have at them.

14:19 MageHike is Happening

 Kalen is organizing a hiking meetup in Austin called MageHike. So if you’re in the Austin area and like trekking through the outdoors, check it out.

It might be your only chance!

Kalen also rants about how he feels is absurd with its pricing.

16:48 A Couple Things on Hiring

Kalen changes pace to talk about a couple of things regarding hiring.

First, he brings up a book by Basecamp Called It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work. The thesis on the main page is a great example of how you should summarize your work in thesis form.

Phillip also suggests a few books that were recommended by Elena Leonova (@elena_a_leonova).

The books are Radical Candor and Start With Why.

23:00 The Pressure of Time Restraints

Kalen has also been thinking a lot about agencies, mainly how deadlines never get met and the insane pressure that comes with time restraints like this.

Phillip elaborates how they promote that a healthy work-life balance is better for everyone.

How do agencies deal with the inherent stress of deadlines in an ever-changing technological landscape?

The boys also talk about the pressure that comes along with specific holidays (such as Prime Day) and how to deal with seasonal craziness.

29:35 Remote Hiring Woes

Kalen brings up a Twitter rant from Josh Pigford (@Shpigford) regarding the trials and tribulations of hiring remotely. Kalen agrees that it’s helpful to sometimes speak about the negatives of hiring remotely.

Don’t worry, I’ve compiled the entire thread for you below. 

Phillip talks about some of the struggles he went through when he was trying to hire remotely. He brings up a story he heard from Mark Lavelle and how he was frustrated by some of the remote hiring regulations.

Kalen sneakily works in a Commerce Hero plug and lets us know that there are some really good candidates looking for positions right now.

Very impressive.

36:27 GraphQL Videos are Live!

Kalen was excited to talk about the videos on, but he didn’t have a membership so all he can talk about are the titles.

Does Kalen actually know what GraphQL is?

Phillip brings up that MageTalk listener Pat McLain in Michigan is a big contributor to the GraphQL project and just so happens to be a part of the Something Digital team. Phillip also talks about how important the GraphQL framework is for the future of PWA.

45:04 What is the New Mage?

Kalen asks if there is a new naming scheme in the current Adobe sphere just like everything was named Mage for Magento.

Is it Adobs- is it -Dobe?

The boys give a shoutout to Erin Kissling (@vertexerin) for being awesome and they let us know that she will soon be on Commerce Party.

Kalen takes credit for raising Commerce Party from the grave just like in Weekend at Bernie’s.

49:06 Phillip’s Powers Put Into Practice and Static Content Deploy

Phillip stretches the limits of his resurrection powers and puts some of the things he wants to happen out into the universe. Some of his attempts involve getting Mark Lavelle on the show and bringing MageEngage back.

Kalen gives a shoutout to Andrew Levine (@drewml) who recently hit a big milestone with his rewrite of static content deploy.


You can actually use the tool yourself here.

Paul Manafort promised that static content deploy would get better years ago. Turns out it didn’t and thankfully the community is stepping up to remedy this.

Kalen loves the fact that Andrew is developing things in full view of the public and you can see the community interest in real-time by gauging the interactions.

Also, in case you didn’t see…

57:46 Getting Into Compliance 

Phillip states that more people should be GDPR compliant and brings up that there are now GDPR Compliance firms in existence. He mentions that the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) is the closest thing to an American GDPR.

What does this mean for the future of compliance once the CCPA goes into effect on January 1st, 2020?

Inchoo released a blog article back in 2018 in which they discuss the GDPR Compliant Magento 2 Database Dump that they performed.

Kalen thinks that the GDPR consultancy stance is interesting and that we will be seeing more of these in the future.

1:04:22 Some More Commerce Hero Updates

Kalen has been working on improving the matching logic and require tags within Commerce Hero. He was doing the matching manually before, so the automation has been really nice.

Phillip mishears “rate” and briefly thinks he heard that Kalen was filtering candidates by “race”.

Kalen calls out Twitter for not responding to anything he’s been posting recently but then going crazy on a tweet about typehints inside a loop.

Phillip critiques Kalen’s coding after actually looking at the code he posted.

I think Phillip needs some code review in his life. 

1:09:46 Some Final Topics 

Max Chadwick (@maxpchadwick) is giving a talk titled “What Agencies Want From Extension Providers” and is looking for some suggestions.

Kalen might have created a new word (or social event) when he was fixing a typo.


-Eric Hileman (@ericvhileman)
-Ivan Chepurnyi (@IvanChepurnyi
-Fillip Rakowski (@filrakowski
-Jisse Reitsma (@jissereitsma)
-Elena Leonova (@elena_a_leonova
-Josh Pigford (@Shpigford)
Pat McLain
-Erin Kissling (@vertexerin)
-Andrew Levin (@drewml)
-Max Chadwick (@maxpchadwick)

Halo Top
The Good Place
Meet Magento New York
It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work
Radical Candor
Start With Why
Commerce Party
Static Content Deploy
GDPR Compliant Magento 2 Database Dump


MageTalk Episode 201 – “I’ve heard of the Oxford Comma but have you heard of the Reed Jenkins Comma?”

The boys talk about some of the current posts and publications recently posted by members of the Magento Community, discuss escalating risk versus technical debt, and tackle the difficulties in automating content creation.

Listen now!

1:45 Great Review, But Wack Feedback

The boys start off the episode by bringing up an awesome review they just got on Apple Podcasts from Reed Jenkins.

“Useful, entertaining, accessible.
So much domain expertise, is expressed on this podcast. The hosts are innate storytellers which pull you in and keep you engaged unlike many podcasts focused on bespoke technology.

Highly recommend for anyone interested in e-commerce and product development!” -Reed Jenkins, 7/11/2019

Did you notice the Reed Jenkins comma?

Phillip also asks for the real Reed Jenkins to please, stand up.

Kalen asked for some topic ideas for this episode on Twitter, and let’s just say y’all came up with some interesting ideas…

7:46 Prime Day Plans

Phillip aggressively deviates from the topics at hand and asks Kalen if he bought anything for Prime Day. Kalen did not, but Phillip might have gone a little crazy…

This is pretty much Phillip on Prime Day.

Phillip was mostly excited about the coffee maker he found for an incredible price and then was even more excited that the coffee maker delivered 18 hours later.

He also calls out Zumiez for taking a little longer to deliver than what was initially promised…

13:21 An Awesome Article

Tom Robertshaw (@bobbyshaw) wrote an article on LinkedIn called The Magento Ecosystem is Evolving that fleshes out a lot of really important points on Magento’s trajectory. Both the boys agree that it’s a great post.

So check it out.

16:37 The Dissection Begins

The boys begin to go into some more detail on the finer point of Tom’s post.

How has the Magento community felt after Mark Lavelle’s leaving? What does the post Imagine communication look like in the Magento ecosystem? Who was missing from Imagine?

All these questions are explored, but go read the article.

22:04 Something Digital Gets A Mention

Robert also gave a shoutout to Something Digital in his discussion the changing Magento landscape and Mercury, the Magento 2 Accelerator.

“Nothing is cheaper than free, but sometimes nothing is as expensive either.”

-Phillip Jackson

Phillip also mentions a recent tweet from Tyler Jensen (@tyleroptpres) regarding suggestions on keeping sites up to date for security purposes.

Talesh Seeparsan(@_Talesh had some pretty good points but ended with a mic drop of a tweet.

25:06 A Couple More Tactical Items

Kalen noticed that there was a new Magento Coding Standard released and he was curious if the coding standard is used universally.

Phillip gives an oral history of the coding standards. He also pronounces “commit” in a very interesting way.

Spoiler: It Sounds like “comet”.

Kalen thinks that Magento is doing a better job, in general, of tooling and has heard that the coding standards are enforced in the Magento marketplace.

33:18 Kalen’s Back At It

Kalen has been actively coding on Commerce Hero for the past few weeks for the first time in about a year. He brings up some of the weird things that he’s been experiencing in the code.

There is also a performance issue in 2.3.2 related to MSI for which Douglas Radburn (@douglasradburn) from Pinpoint Design has provided the below patch.

Phillip finds it strange that the Magento Stack Exchange is its own little insular platform.

Kalen also discusses the below tweet from Ryan Hoerr (@ryanhoerr) and discuss the M2 dashboard charts and how you should be using the BI tooling.

42:40 MageX Is Coming Up

Phillip is hearing from more and more people that Kalen is planning on submitted a talk on hiring at MageX.

They still have some trouble finding the dates of the conference. 

Phillip offers 25 Magebucks to anyone who can name the default meta tag that still ships with Magento 2 that is left over from Magento 1 for SEO purposes.

Don’t miss out on your Magebucks.

45:46 Kalen Hosts a Hike

Kalen is wanting to organize a hike for the local hikers in the Austin area. He creatively wants to name it MageHike.

Kalen also informs Phillip that he’s been attending some hiking meetups and also offers 50 Magebucks to whoever “wins” the hike.

He also wasn’t aware that you had to pay a monthly fee to post a meetup on MeetUp.

49:36 Phillip Gets Super Jazzed About This Topic

Kalen saw the below tweet and it made him think about the different aspects of technical debt and how not all debt is bad.

What is escalating risk and how do you factor it into your business plan?

Phillip compares technical debt with a mortgage and makes some great points regarding how you can use technical debt to your advantage.

55:30 A Commero Hero Update

Kalen has been doing a lot of behind the scenes work such as payment processing that Phillip thinks sounds awesome.

Kalen also brings up what has recently become a part of his technical debt and how that shifts his day to day business.

58:00 Phillip’s Future Commerce Army

Phillip has been trying to do a lot more hands-on work with Future Commerce and has found that managing a team of people to smoothly work together via automated platforms. He also has struggled to find automation tools in the content publishing worlds.

Kalen asks Phillip to go into more detail on the army of people that working at Future Commerce. Phillip gives a gist of where Future Commerce is headed and what he and his team have been working on.

The boys discuss the paid content model and Phillip talks about this is where Future Commerce is headed.

1:04:00 More On Paid Content

Phillip mentions Substack and how it is the simplest news system that you’ve ever seen and has Stripe as a payment gateway.

Venture capitalists must think that paid content is a worthwhile investment.

Kalen also brings up StrongLifts as a great example of a paid content business models.


-Tom Robertshaw (@bobbyshaw)
-Tyler Jensen (@tyleroptpres)
-Talesh Seeparsan(@_Talesh
-Douglas Radburn (@douglasradburn)
-Ryan Hoerr (@ryanhoerr)

The Magento Ecosystem is Evolving
Apple Podcasts Review
Pinpoint Design
Future Commerce

MageTalk Episode 200 – “Oot-Gaverjet-Ploom”

In an episode plagued by audio issues, the boys cross the 200 episode threshold by talking about PWA demos, Magento 1’s trending pattern in market share, and the recent Magecart attack.

Listen now!

1:29 Prep Work and Gifts

The boys start out by announcing that guests on MageTalk will from now on be getting an entire packet of information as well as gifts.

We have also crossed a threshold and are now in the 200s in regards to episode count.

Congrats, boys!

Phillip mentions the now extinct Modern Seinfeld.

The boys also come up with what may be the Worst Superhero of All-Time.

7:55 Starting On the West Coast

Both of the boys were out in Seattle (but not together) and both enjoyed their time.

Kalen’s kids met their cousins who live there for the first time and they visited a botanical garden that everyone enjoyed.

Phillip is on the West Coast for the Pacific Northwest Magento Meetup that Brian Lange from Future Commerce started when he was still working for Amazon. The meetup has grown over the years and now has a couple of hundred members.

The boys also give a shoutout to Binary Anvil for having one of the coolest agency names.

Even if Kalen doesn’t get it.

11:23 A Possible New Segment?

Kalen pitches the idea of a new segment in which the boys make fun of one of the company names in the industry.

Cause that’s always funny.

11:40 Speaking of Names to Make Fun Of…

Brent Peterson (@brentwpeterson) has changed Mage Titans into MageX, an altogether new conference (that is kind of the same thing) that is not just for developers.

MageX is in Austin, Texas (so right in Kalen’s backyard) in September and Kalen might even give a talk on hiring.

Phillip also gives us insight into his process of creating new talks. Spoiler alert: it’s 89 days of crippling anxiety and then one day of extreme productivity.

16:55 A New Podcast on the Scene

Divante has just come out with a new podcast called eCommerce Talks that Kalen thinks has some great production quality.

eCommerce Talks discusses tech, current trends, and insights from around the eCommerce world. It features industry experts, business leaders, and top consultants to share their knowledge.

Phillip says that the setup reminds him of the Kevin Rose Podcast.

20:39 You Know Who’s Not Taking a Sabbatical?

The Magento Community Engineering Slack has reached 5,000 members and Phillip can proudly claim to have another successful vanity metric.

Also, there was a weird audio glitch here so excuse the silence when Phillip’s mic cut off.

Phillip says that this number is actually probably a better measure of activity in the community than the 250,000 developer count that he sees thrown around a lot.

Kalen predicts that by the end of 2021, a Magento developer will be hired with a salary of $300,000.

29:03 Kalen Rants About PWA Demos

Kalen saw that there was a Braintree Integration for PWA and he was curious about how extension integrations are going to work in PWA. He went to go check the PWA demo and it was down.

The boys check the demo in real-time and find that it works so Kalen retracts his rant because the demo looks great.

Phillip also mentions the Creatuity PWA Demo and that Elegentos has just launched a new site on Deity Falcon named Uitgeverij Pluim.

34:35 Magento 1 Is Still On Top

Kalen brings up a tweet from Tom Karwatka (@tomik99) that shows that Magento 1 is leading in Top 10K sites, and if you click the link in the tweet, you can see the trend patterns.

Phillip points out that there is ample opportunity for Sports and Home & Garden sites on Magento 1, so make a move before the opportunities are gone!

38:20 A Simple Request for Rebecca Brocton

Both Kalen and Phillip have heard from multiple sources that the community wants Rebecca Brocton (@RebeccaBrocton) to release video overviews of Magento releases complete with costumes and all sorts of fun extras.

You owe it to the community, Rebecca.

The boys also try to come up with a song that goes with 2.3.2

41:13 Magecart Attack

On July 4th, over 960 stores were breached with an automated Magecart campaign.

Phillip woke up on July 5th to the below tweet from Talesh Seeparsan [(@_Talesh)( reminding the community that hackers know when you are off work.

Phillip also goes the extra mile and points out some of the sites that were hacked as well as some of the developers who work for the sites that were hacked.

Do you think that open source is a double-edged sword?

Phillip says that people are not vigilant about keeping their platforms up to date and people don’t sit down to calculate the cost to run software that might be inherently free but has certain costs to keep updated and secure. He also believes that a breach like this is something that can set an entire industry back.

Kalen thinks the bigger risk is companies ignoring the security threat altogether.

51:45 The Future of the Magecart Cyber Threat

Phillip asks how long it will be before Magecart evolves into ransomware. He also brings up how the technique of card skimming has come to be known as Magecart, regardless if it takes place on Magento. Well that’s quite the reputation.

Kalen thinks that GDPR will assist in preventing the leaking of data and cyber breaches like this in the future.


Modern Seinfeld
Future Commerce
Binary Anvil
eCommerce Talks
Kevin Rose Podcast
Braintree Integration for PWA
Magento PWA Demo
Creatuity PWA Demo
Deity Falcon
Uitgeverij Pluim
Magecart Breach

-Brian Lange (@brianjlange)
-Brent Peterson (@brentwpeterson)
-Tom Karwatka (@tomik99)
-Rebecca Brocton (@RebeccaBrocton)

MageTalk Episode 199– “Better Eat Your Googley-Ohs” (w/ James Zetlen)

In one of the more technical episodes of late, Phillip is joined by James Zetlen as they explore the future of UI components, UPWARD and the importance of a common coding language, and some nitty-gritty details of PWA Studio.

Listen Now!

1:36 Down a Kalen, Up a Zetlen

Today, Phillip is joined by James Zetlen (@JamesZetlen) the Senior Frontend Architect from Adobe. Kalen is not here so he’s probably off eating a banana somewhere.

Or maybe for the first time actually taking his sabbatical.

3:05 A Brief History on James Zetlen

Phillip asks James to talk about his history with Magento.

James takes us through a quick background and lets us know that he has been with Magento since December of 2016 and when he started there, he was one of the few engineers that were actually located in the Austin office. When he first started, they had just finished polishing Magento 2.2. Now that’s a flashback.

Phillip recalls when it was really difficult to vertically center things.

7:19 A Flashback Shoutout

Ten years ago, Phillip recalls that Nicole Sullivan (@stubbornella) (who invented OOCSS by the way) worked in the Austin office and now she works on the Google Chrome team.

She was kind of a hero to him.

James points out that at (Or Googley-Oh for the initiated) this year, she did a talk on Elevating the Web Platform with the Javascript Framework Community.

The boys discuss what Nicole is doing today, and how valuable her work is.

Phillip is also surprised to find out that Paul Irish (@paul_irish) was at Imagine.

11:28 The Complex UI Problem

Largely, the response of the community to Magento 2.2’s UI components might have been too much. The frontend development got very tricky and full stack developers ran into complex issues that might have been past what their skillsets allowed them to comfortably build.

Phillip goes on record saying that the implementation surpassed the maturity level of a typical open source developer working for a merchant that doesn’t have an enormous commerce budget.

18:20 The Separation of Concerns Horizontally

There’s a general principle that used to be called the separation of concerns horizontally that leads to things being decoupled in the web stack.

James goes through some of the layers of abstraction that make up the Magento framework and the history of its development.

“The web was designed as a way to surf around using hyperlinks through academic documentation and you can see that history everywhere.” -James Zetlen

Some really good technical stuff here.

Most programming shows hallmarks of its era and we have compounded functionality on top of essentially basic mechanics.

24:21 The Future of UI Components

James predicts that the future of UI components looks like a vertical integration that instead of its connectors being PHP interfaces and XML dialects, they are more broadly accepted industry standard portal directives.

Phillip then states that it seems like James has done away with all the existing UI components and rebuilt it from the ground up with a more sensible orientation.

Maybe James is the hero we need.

30:03 A Big Circle Back to Lighthouse

Phillip asked about Google Lighthouse back at the beginning of the episode and the discussion has naturally spiraled back to it.

James gives lots of juicy information on how PWA Studio was initially a project to begin the creation of the new stack for Magento. He also lets Phillip know that the process has not always moved as fast as he would want it to.

33:51 What are some exciting things on the horizon?

Phillip asks James to talk about some of the exciting things that are coming up in the pipeline.

James starts out by saying that PWA in itself is exciting. Once you begin to mess around with the capabilities of PWA, you start to see just how powerful a tool it can be. Once you’ve played around with it and bring that perspective to PWA Studio, you will have the perspective to give feedback on how to improve PWA Studio itself.

“PWA Studio will help to establish a pattern that other people will recognize, so that when they go to build their own extension concepts then they have code that doesn’t surprise them and code that works together.” -James Zetlen

James also gives some examples of how PWA will work with other languages and components out there.

39:30 Runtime Dependencies and Required JS

Required JS is a runtime dependency manager, and it has a builder that is not used in standard Magento 2 Production. James talks about some of the workarounds to make this process more efficient.

Phillip brings up how a documented javascript module system is a first-class feature nowadays, but it was not always that way.

James talks about how what they have today is not really a runtime system, but more of a build-time system.

44:30 Additional Magento Needs

James talks about how he wants the extension manifest to function, and how most of what is written in the extension manifest is Magento specific.

We should be able to identify within a component what Magento schema are present and the ability to identify the schema is and the additional component to developing the stack.

48:22 Criticism On Complex Deployment

Phillip asks James to talk about what he would say to the argument that other third-party ecosystem progressive web app approaches that exist solely because Magento has to solve them for themselves.

James explains why Magento needs to support multiple deployment scenarios, and why this can lead to complexity.

James also brings up UPWARD (Unified Progressive Web App Response Definition) that he invented because it wasn’t guaranteed that they would be able to run Node JS at run time in order to deliver up PWA made with their tool.

Say Unified Progressive Web App Response Definition five times fast.

53:59 No One Left Behind

James and the team wanted to build an environment in which no one was left behind. They wanted something that was deployable yet also something that wasn’t invasive to their existing tech stack.

James quotes Star Trek: Insurrection and Phillip signs off on the perfect analogy.

56:53 Let’s Clarify a Couple Things

James clarifies that UPWARD is a definition file for how a custom-written back end server would work. It would be great if you could maintain node servers with several different languages but what if instead of writing the same code in five different languages, you identified the commonalities in all of those languages and objects?

What if we could create a domain specific language that you need on the fly?

UPWARD has a small(ish) number of instructions and was only confusing initially because James wrote a document that wasn’t very easy to read.

“There are some things that, no matter how technical they are, need to be promoted”. -James Zetlen

1:04:10 PWA Studio 3.0.0

PWA Studio 3.0.0 has just been released.

James let us know that the most exciting thing about it to him is the existence of the release itself. This was done almost entirely without him writing commands by the awesome team of Craig Herdman, Dev Patil, and their developers.

James also thanks a lot more people and it begins to sound like an Oscar Speech.

A big update for developers in 3.0.0 is the inclusion of Peregrine hooks that is a React-based API. Peregrine uses a new paradigm that feels like magic.

1:08:08 A Big Thank You 

James wants to address his last appearance on MageTalk and commends Kalen and Phillip for their efforts in making him feel welcome and not attacked. James also gives thanks to the boys for giving them insight into what is like to actually use the tools and calls that episode revelatory in their process of development.

With praise like that, I’d check it out

1:09:25 One Other Thing About UPWARD

Phillip points out that it does us no good to have a spec for HTTP without someone building something that actually allows us to use the web. The implementation is just as important as the spec.

James asks Phillip what things would like without UPWARD and also states that he’s willing to throw it out if it’s not useful in the future.

If Magento was able to produce a proof of concept of an alternative, something that is maybe more turnkey and less flexible in its deployment, would that seem like they were invited others into UPWARD?

Phillip says that it would have to be something that is Commerce Cloud-centric first because that is where we are today.

James also talks about some of the issues in UPWARD that make it appear more confusing than it actually is.

Does anyone else have a tired brain after all the genius in this episode?


Guest Host: James Zetlen (@JamesZetlen)

  • Nicole Sullivan ([@stubbornella](]))
  • Paul Irish ([@paul_irish](
  • [Craig Herdman](
  • [Dev Patil](
  • [OOCSS](
  • [Elevating the Web Platform with the Javascript Framework Community](
  • [Google Lighthouse]([Google Lighthouse](
  • [PWA Studio](
  • [UPWARD](
  • [PWA Studio 3.0.0 Release Notes](
  • [Peregrine hooks](
  • [MageTalk Classics with James Zetlen](

MageTalk Episode 198 – $10,000 Luxury Magento Site

Kalen and Phillip explore the complications surrounding a low budget Magento build, the concept of a luxury brand, and a possible Mage Reconciliation Day.

Listen now!

Show Notes

00:52 “Let’s Talk About Feelings”

Phillip starts the show off with a bang by suggesting that the boys talk about feelings.

Kalen harkens back to last week when Phillip told everyone to “grow up”. Phillip now refers to this as “the dark place”. Phillip also says that Kalen has a lot of similarities to Dracula.

This is quite the start…

4:18 A Most Interesting Integrated Ad for Tax Solutions

Phillip makes quite possibly the most original integrated ad by linking Dracula to Vertex by saying that unlike the former, Vertex won’t suck your blood. 

Kalen says that it makes no sense that tax filing is as stressful as it is and gives a shoutout to his accountant. Kalen also says that it is always worth it to have your taxes handled more proactively.

Does Phillip make another interesting analogy for taxes but this time involves Slip ‘N Slides?

Take a guess.

8:28 What are we talking about?

Phillip steers this ship back towards scheduled programming and brings up the $10,000 Magento site.

Kalen fills us in with some context. Essentially, he had a client sign up on Commerce Hero that wanted a site built for $10,000. In spite of the red flags going off in his head, Kalen puts the notice out for this job.

Let’s just say the feedback on Twitter was…colorful. 

12:24 Lots of Different Angles

Kalen has been thinking about the $10,000 site from lots of different angles.

Why can’t people work in whatever level of the stack they need to work in like they do with Linux?

Kalen also brings up some of the joking comments that refer to the high pricing of anything regarding Magento.

15:36 Phillip Joins In (Here’s the Deal)

Phillip is chomping at the bit to get a word in on the topic of the $10,000 build.

Magento Enterprise Solutions Partners are charging around $150-$175. It would take between 42 and 52 hours to accomplish installing Magento to remain within the budget.

In that time you need to:

  1. Decide where to install Magento (Obviously [MageMojo](
  2. Decide who’s going to set up the account
  3. Provision access to the account
  4. What plugins will we be using and are they compatible?
  5. And the list goes on and on.

See where this is heading?

There are several hours in just conversations at the beginning of a Magento installation.

22:11 Is it Even Possible?

Kalen lays out some very specific things that would have to happen in order for this project to work with this budget.

Phillip brings up Mercury, an accelerator powered by Something Digital that can do a build for around $55,000.

How is this possible? The answer is simple: fixed choices.

By creating a known environment, Mercury eliminates a lot of the choices that lengthen builds.

Phillip also brings up the below comment from David Stillson (@DavidStillson) and compares this to the Magento ecosystem.

Does supporting lower budgets hurt the higher budget projects?

30:14 The “Luxury” Trigger

Phillip brings up a good point by saying that the response to the site could have been triggered by the word “luxury” in the post.

Oooo. Luxury.

If the word “luxury” had not been included, would the responses have been the same?

Phillip asks Kalen a hypothetical question about what he would charge if he were developing a logo for a billion dollar company. Does the worth or clout of the company affect the cost of the work?

Kalen says that at the high end of the market, you want the consumer to be impressed by the level of the work and the reputation of the designer can affect the outcome.

35:17 Some Good Feedback

Another piece of good feedback that Kalen got from the comments was from Len Lorijn (@lenlorijn).

Check out what his idea below.

Kalen thinks this is a really cool idea.

Phillip says this is also timely in the Magento space because people are balking at Adobe Stock integration being part of the Magento Community Engineering Platform project.

The boys also delve into some of the positives and negatives of hackathons and work through some scenarios where this model could work.

Phillip also gives some examples of things that exist in other spaces that are similar to Len’s suggestion.

42:30 The Adobe Stock Integration Thing

Kalen wants to talk a bit about the Adobe Stock Integration thing.

Phillip points out that some people are wondering why Adobe is asking the community to build their product for them.

Phillip then picks apart the perception that we are taking developers’ time (for free) and using it to fund a commercial product. But isn’t this how all of Magento works?

Point Taken GIF by Third Rail with OZY - Find & Share on GIPHY

46:33 Mage Reconciliation Day

Kalen has been getting a lot of ideas from the Reply All Podcast and wants to create Mage Reconciliation Day.

As time has gone on, Kalen has come to know an increasing number of people who have a serious beef with each other. With this in mind, what if there was one day a year where people could come together and squash their beef?

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Kalen gives a shoutout to Nina Stocklöw (@ninnah90) and Phoenix Media

Phillip loves the idea of Reconciliation day but has some words of warning.

In reality, it’s none of your business what other people think about you.

-Phillip Jackson

He also suggests that we are all adults and if you need reconciliation, go out yourself and get it.

Kalen says that as a general rule for reconciliation, you shouldn’t expect the other party to forgive you as well, you should look to just let things go for yourself.


-David Stillson (@DavidStillson
-Len Lorijn (@lenlorijn)
-Nina Stocklöw (@ninnah90)

Something Digital
Reply All Podcast
Phoenix Media

MageTalk Episode 197 – “I Bet You Expected An Imagine Recap”

The boys discuss Kalen’s sabbatical and recent trip to Canada, Magento’s upmarket trajectory, and a possible change in what we call PWAs. There also might be some Imagine recaps in there somewhere…

Listen now!

Show Notes

2:28 Dating Apps

Phillip has a friend who is designing a dating app for musicians.

Kalen says he’s getting closer and closer in being able to qualify for

3:58 They Don’t Understand Ranch

Kalen was in Canada and states that they don’t understand the concept of ranch dressing with their french fries there.

Phillip says it’s because they’re maniacs that put gravy on their fries instead. Kalen thinks that gravy on french fries is fantastic.

Phillip amends his statement to say that he just doesn’t like french fries anymore.

6:28 Why Canada?

Phillip asks Kalen to talk about why he was in Canada.

Kalen lets us know that he went to visit a friend and that during his sabbatical time, he has been receiving some judgment of how he is taking a sabbatical.

Spoiler: it’s pretty much not a sabbatical.

9:18 Why the sabbatical?

Kalen talks a little bit about some of the reasons he has taken a sabbatical. It’s one of the reasons why he didn’t go to Imagine.

I never thought I’d type the word “sabbatical” as much as this. 

9:58 It All Started Because of Imagine

Phillip recalls that this podcast started because of Imagine.

Phillip found a picture of himself and Kalen in a limo en route to some sort of exotic racecar experience in 2014 that was their first picture together.


10:45 “You’re Getting Seriously Ripped”

Kalen compliments Phillip on his increasingly impressive physique.

Phillip lets us know that he is doing a basal metabolic test that he will be sharing the results of soon. He also gives us some insight into some of the athletic endeavors he has been taking part in.

There’s also a shoutout to Erin Kissling (@vertexerin) for introducing Phillip to SoulCycle and for her recent promotion to Head of Partner Marketing at Vertex.

Another spoiler alert: Phillip thinks it’s spiritual mumbo-jumbo. 

12:39 Back to Vancouver

Phillip returns to the Vancouver topic by asking Kalen if he had a good time in Vancouver.

Kalen talks about his trip, including the judgment he received for being scared of bears. Let’s just say he had to wear a bear belt.

Scared Bear GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

There were also literal cougars that could kill you. Not divorcees. 

15:17 Magento, an Adobe Company

Kalen says the whole “Magento, an Adobe Company” thing is getting annoying.

Phillip brings up that at Imagine, everyone’s badge said “Adobe” and the Magento logos didn’t actually say Magento at all.

16:27 Shoutouts to the Mojo and the Key to Imagine

MageMojo got a Twitter shoutout from Ivan Chepurnyi (@IvanChepurnyi) regarding some load testing they provided for him.

Phillip brings up the event that MageMojo hosted at Imagine called the Key to Imagine with Bob Schwartz. He wasn’t there but heard it was a pretty cool event that was a first of its kind.

20:32 “Just Be Better”, A Rant from Phillip 

Kalen asks Phillip how he feels Imagine went this year.

Phillip begins by saying it went well but then prepares us for a rant by mentioning that he head that “Imagine felt weird” from several people.

Rant commences.

It was eleven pm on Monday and Phillip had just seen a series of tweets saying that Imagine had felt weird. He was stopped by Manish Mittal (@mittalmanishm) (a fan of the show) and Manish wanted to introduce Phillip to someone. So Manish went to WhatsApp, and lo and behold, had his entire team from Singapore on the other end who wanted to meet Phillip.

Phillip walked away from this wonderful experience feeling terrible that the community thought that Imagine felt weird when there are people who are as excited as Manish and his team were.

“Just be better. Stop the cynicism.” -Phillip Jackson

Phillip also looks to the future of the community and gives some insight into who to look for in regards to leadership.

Does the community need a figurehead?

30:17 People Freaking Love the Banana Thing

It wouldn’t be an episode without bananas coming up.

Kalen calls out Phillip because of how hard he is running with the banana thing. Phillip retaliates saying that people love the banana thing. Kalen agrees.

33:34 Mage Yes/No

The boys play Yes/Yes/No with a recent banana meme that Phillip posted.

Kalen doesn’t get it. Phillip obviously does.

Themes of the meme are then explored. That sounded fancy…

Also, the banana thing will never die. 

Phillip also goes more into the other part of the meme and talks about a fashion brand called Off White and how the symbolism from that brand applies to the banana meme.

39:31 Swimming Upmarket

Kalen brings up a tweet from Phillip about Magento moving upmarket.

The boys talk about this move and talk about a clip from Jason Woosley in which he talks (more like shouts) about Magento remaining dominant in the Small-Medium sized market.

If you follow the Twitter thread started by Phillip’s tweet, you’ll find a lot of opinions on as to why this isn’t true, but Phillip points out that Magento is making it pretty clear as to what their stance is.

What are your thoughts?

The boys explore the intricacies of the statements from Magento and also weigh in with their personal thoughts on the trajectory of Magento, an Adobe Company. Can you sense the sass?

48:40 A Shift to SMB and A Shift Towards Progressive Web

Somebody told Phillip that Mark Lenhard’s group at Magento (which used to be called the Strategy group) now focuses on what they call SMB.

If Magento is focusing on SMB, what does this mean for company-wide initiatives?

Phillip thinks that the idea that “Magento is too complicated” is something that exists only for Magento and he also points out that no one says this about Linux even though it’s just as (if not more) complex than Magento.

Can this be remedied with a shift in perspective that gets Magento closer to the Linux model?

54:15 PW not PWA

James Zetlen (@JamesZetlen) posted an interesting tweet about apps being a necessary idea.

The boys give their thoughts on this tweet and the semantics behind the change in perspective.

Phillip makes the point that you have infinite control to create more flexible things that don’t require you to be a backend developer that specializes in the world of progressive web apps.

Are backend developers the best group of people to shape the direction that PWAs move toward? The frontend developer shouldn’t have to work under the abstraction created by a specific developer group.

1:02:02 Magento 3?

Are PWAs essentially Magento 3?

Phillip rants that idea of version numbers don’t mean anything. Spicy.

“Eventually, every part of the thing you are using that lives in the digital world will be replaced.” -Phillip Jackson


-Erin Kissling (@vertexerin)
-Ivan Chepurnyi (@IvanChepurnyi)
-Manish Mittal (@mittalmanishm)
-James Zetlen (@JamesZetlen)

Key to Imagine
Where the Banana Thing Started
Off White


MageTalk Episode 196 – REST in Mage Peace

The boys get into some nitty-gritty details about the recently announced Imagine keynote speaker, a newly released database of useful Magento resources, and talk about overcoming issues within the partner ecosystem.

Listen now!

1:38 Some Music To Start

Phillip has gone live without Kalen and fills the time with some improvised songs about his absence.

There are even some banana jokes thrown in there in song form… Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You can also check out the

( of this live stream in case you want to see the boys’ beautiful faces.

4:04 And Now We Really Start

Kalen recently tweeted a poll asking if people enjoy his video content in an effort to get some feedback on what he has been creating recently.

Over half of you just wanted to see the results…

6:30 Workshop That Promo

Kalen makes an attempt at a promo for some sparkling water, and the questions then creator of the verb “workshop”. Phillip then jumps in and lets us know that there are many verbs that he fundamentally disagrees with.

Plus, there’s an interesting example of the term “woodshed”.

8:55 Gary Vee with the Key

Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) is the keynote speaker for Magento Imagine.

Kalen aks if Phillip will get to meet him and Phillip lets us know that (just like Jamie Foxx) he probably won’t get to meet him or introduce him.

The boys also ask hard-hitting questions like” “Is Kathy Griffin the same level of celebrity as Gary Vaynerchuk?”

12:00 Be Careful When You Google

Phillip brings up a story of how he set up an auto-follow software for Future Commerce that ended up getting his Twitter account shadow-banned because of the amount of Taliban fighters that were followed.

Kalen asks if ISIS has been conquered.

14:50 Deets on the Vee

Kalen has watched several keynotes that Gary Vaynerchuk has given in the past, and wonders what he is going to talk about. From what he has seen, Kalen has noticed that Gary has a core message that he tailors to his audiences and that he is brutally honest.

16:48 Mageres Has Been Released

Alessandro Ronchi (@aleron75) just launched mageres which is a curated list of useful Magento resources.

Kalen wonders how this is different from the Magento 2 Awesome List. Phillip brings up that Alessandro mentioned it will be more of a weekly digest than a static list. Follow @mageres_info or subscribe to the monthly digest.

The boys then break down some of the resources that are available within MageRes.

19:42 He Shust, He Scores

Phillip brings up a free course by Mark Shust that shows you how to set up a Magento 2 environment with Docker and shows you all the correct steps.

The boys also rave about Valet+ and Phillip brings up a helpful article from David Macaulay on how to Install Magento 2 on MacOS using Valet+.

22:16 Docker vs. Valet+

What is the use case for using Docker instead of Valet+?

Phillip brings up why you would choose to Docker instead of Valet+ and gets into some of the more technical aspects of the two options.

Kalen asks Phillip why you would use Valet+ if it’s not going to sync your production environment.

Some good, helpful technical information here.

28:55 Multiple Platforms, Multiple Possibilities

Phillip says that there is a trend he is seeing where people might be able to have multiple environments and platforms in disparate parts of their website that they use to feed other parts of their sites.

What’s the use case of having both Magento and Shopify at the same time to run different aspects of your business?

34:27 Extension of the Week(ish)

Kalen brings up his pick for the extension of the week: Unirgy uRapidFlow for Import/Export in Magento.

Phillip mentions that he personally prefers Firebear Studio for Import/Export but Something Digital mainly uses Unirgy.

The boys then go into the advantages and disadvantages of both products and weigh in with their own opinions?

Which product do you think sounds better?

38:18 Phillip Soapboxes 

Phillip gets on a soapbox about API integrations the challenges they present. Kalen thinks that Magento should focus mainly on the API layer.

Phillip also goes into the struggles of working with APIs in Magento. Kalen points out that webhooks are something that should be built into the core but are still not.

There’s also a show title in here somewhere…

43:33 Professional Relationship Issues

The boys discuss intricacies of professional relationships, mainly, reasons why companies sometimes get distracted by small issues and don’t look at the bigger picture.

A particular example of using professional leverage to get the desired result is also discussed.

“Customer relationships get solidified when an issue gets resolved, especially when it gets resolved in thorough way.” -Kalen Jordan

What do you do when you can’t overcome an issue in the Magento open source community? Don’t let a single obstacle with a vendor inhibit your relationship with them. 

Does the maturity of a company affect how you treat issues you encounter with them?

52:35 Let’s Talk About the Shopify Thing

Phillip points out that it’s interesting that early on in the Shopify ecosystem, it was possible to earn a cut of the revenue in perpetuity for sites that were built in a certain timeframe. This created a downward market pressure in which developers would create websites at extreme discounts just to have the potential revenue stream come later if the website became successful.

This was a huge competitive advantage in the partner ecosystem that could not exist forever because it was simply unsustainable, so it was changed.

Phillip points out that changes like this happened for a reason. He also brings up a certain non-disparagement agreement within the Shopify partner ecosystem…

59:00 Salty About Mandrill

Kalen gives a firm “what goes around, comes around” to Mailchimp regarding the recent Mandrill incident.


1:01:28 A Last Minute Commerce Hero Plug

Kalen gives his traditional Commerce Hero plug and lets us know that he has some real beasts of developers looking for work.

Check them out.


-Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)
-Alessandro Ronchi (@aleron75)
-mageres (@mageres_info

Video Live Stream
Gary Vaynerchuk Imagine Profile
mageres Monthly Digest
Magento 2 Awesome List
Setup a Magento 2 Development Environment with Docker by Mark Shust
How to Install Magento 2 on MacOS using Valet+
Unirgy uRapidFlow
Firebear Studio
Mandrill incident

MageTalk Episode 195 – Solution Specialist Redux

Phillip sits down with Peter Manijak, Joseph Maxwell, Emily Dowd, and Caitlin Mekita and discusses everything about the new Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist Exam.

Listen now!

1:21 Down One Host, Up Four Guests

Phillip lets us know by letting us know that Kalen will not be joining him for today’s episode, but also tells us not fear because Peter Manijak (@PeterManijak), Joseph Maxwell (@josephmaxs), Emily Dowd, and Caitlin Mekita (@CEMekita) are joining him as guests.

3:40 Why are they here?

Phillip asks Peter to talk a little bit about why this particular group of people has assembled on MageTalk today.

Peter lets us know that they all got together in Orlando and wrote an entirely new exam bank for the Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist Exam. Say that five times fast.

4:34 A Quick Update

Peter gives a quick update on the progress the team has made since last year. They have added a Javascript Exam and a Cloud Developer Exam.

The Javascript exam is for people who know Magento and want to take advantage of their javascript skills.

They have also updated the Associate and Pro Developer Exams to include 2.3 within the past month. But don’t worry about the updates affecting your studying because 98% of the objectives are still the same.

6:08 New Quizzes on the Horizon

Peter lets us know that on June 18 through June 21 there will be an Exam Development workshop in Boston and he’s looking for some experts in Order Management to help them develop the upcoming Order Management exam.

Think you could help? Reach out to Peter.

6:55 Orlando Objectives

Phillip asks Joseph to talk about some of the objectives from the meeting in Orlando.

Joseph informs us that before the group assembled, a blueprint was formed to map out questions regarding each subject that was to be on the exam. Once they worked through the blueprint, each member picked an objective that they wanted to write questions for.

After a quick talk from Peter on best practices for writing questions, everyone set to work to start tackling their objectives. Once a question was determined a “keeper”, that objective would be crossed off the whiteboard to give everyone a quick measure of how much was still left to write.

8:48 How Far We’ve Come

Having collected all four of the original Magento certifications, Phillip asks Joseph to talk about how the recent exams differ from those that have existed in the past.

Joseph says that the old certification focused more on memorization as opposed to practical experience, but the new exam focuses more on the practical experience.

10:35 Question Relatability

Phillip points the mic to Emily and asks her to talk about some of her experiences exam from creating this exam.

Emily brings up that there were several instances where the team read each other’s questions and found them to be relatable.

Emily also discusses how they identified who a Solution Specialist was and what they did, and from there, they were able to base relevant questions on that.

13:24 Client Opinions

Phillip asks Emily what her clients feel the role of a Solution Specialist is and how Corra translates building requirements into functionality.

15:32 Post-Launch Approaches

Phillip turns to Caitlin and inquires if there were any challenges that she had to overcome while trying to characterize the right type of questions that went into the exam.

Caitlin talks about her different perspective on the approach due to the fact that her position has her work with client sites post-launch and after they have already been built. This brings maintenance and technical support into the picture but more importantly: how do you grow a site?

This post-launch perspective really rounded out the team as the majority of expertise was with pre-launch. Caitlin enlightens us with the fact that one of the biggest differences between pre-launch and post-launch is that the client is involved with post-launch.

When you have the opportunity to get hands on and do something you wouldn’t normally do, do it yourself. Don’t delegate it. That’s how you’re going to learn.

-Caitlin Mekita

19:15 A (Notso) Smooth Plug/Transition

Phillip reminds us that SWIFTotter is a sponsor of MageTalk (thanks guys!), but also that it’s a pretty amazing resource if you need to study for the certification exams.

Joseph lets us know that they are in the final stages of a new, free study guide. He also candidly tells us that practical experience is something that isn’t normally covered in study guides but has a larger focus in the upcoming guide.

23:35 Phillip Plays Devil’s Advocate

Phillip bravely asks Joseph how does someone utilize a study guide if the most important component is practical, hands-on experience. If someone is new to Magento, how can you use the study guide to navigate where you begin learning?

Joseph comes right off the bat by saying that the purpose of the study guide is to supplement existing knowledge. Magento recommends at least a year of experience working as a Solution Specialist before taking the certification exam and Joseph’s goal is to fill in the knowledge gaps that might not have been learned during that initial experience.

24:58 Practical Applications

Caitlin tells us her process on how she would use the study guide to steer her learning process and it’s such a powerful tool for self-learning.

26:19 Pre Imagine Prep Workshop

Peter asks Joseph to talk a bit about what he will be doing at Imagine. Joseph lets us know that on the Sunday before Imagine (May 12th), he will be presenting a Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist Prep Workshop (with lunch included).

Caitlin also talks about “The Incident”.

29:44 Insider Trading? 

Phillip asks Emily to talk a little about what her preparation was before she went to the certification workshop as she has some insider knowledge from her team about what the session would be like.

Emily says that she learned the most on the first day of the workshop when she got her first submitted question torn apart by Peter.

She also goes into some detail about how Corra is implementing Solution Strategist into their organization.

33:08 A Pop Quiz?!

Peter holds a surprise pop quiz for the exam makers and asks them what are some of the things they look for when they have a question reviewed. Some examples are below.

  1. Do we care?
  2. How does it read?
  3. It is technically accurate?
  4. Is it congruent?
  5. Is it relevant?

Phillip also asks how they test questions if they trigger specific emotional responses within the individuals that are reviewing them. Do I sense some personal issues, Phillip?

Joseph ensures us that this most recent test is extremely relevant and contains things you actually need to know.

39:39 Parting Thoughts

Phillip opens up a roundtable for everyone to give their final thoughts on why certification is important.

Joseph opens up by saying that there are two aspects of certifications:

  1. It’s a great way to force yourself to learn about something by giving you an end goal.
  2. From an external perspective, others will look at your certifications and identify you as someone who knows their stuff.

Emily says that passing the certification should be held in high regard and once you pass, it will mean others will look to you for your experience and knowledge. This validation is a powerful tool in furthering your career. She also says that the certifications will boost client relations at Corra.

Caitlin’s number one takeaway from the process is how you should tackle the exam itself. She says to be brave, get in there, solve problems, get out of your comfort zone, be hands-on, and have fun. The exam is very inclusive because it serves people that are not just developers.

45:35 The MageTalk Special

Peter ends with a “MageTalk Special” by saying that anyone who passed the original Magento 2 Certification Exam that wants to take the new exam, can do so (at a tremendous discount) by following the steps below.

  1. Send an email to
  2. Reference MageTalk
  3. Mention that the passcode for the discount is MyCousinVinny



Peter Manijak (@PeterManijak), Head of Certification & Training Programs at Magento, an Adobe Company

Joseph Maxwell (@josephmaxs), Founder, SWIFTotter Solutions

Emily Dowd, Solutions Strategy Manager, Corra

Caitlin Mekita (@CEMekita), Strategic Engagement Manager, Something Digital


MageTalk Episode 194- There and Back Again (w/ Slava Kravchuk)

The boys sit down with Slava Krachuk and discuss his seven-month road trip in which he circumnavigated Africa.

Listen now!

Show Notes

Today the boys are joined by Slava Kravchuk (@slkra) from Atwix.

1:41 Today’s Episode is brought to you by…

…the MageTalk Expert Napper. Also, don’t forget to check out the rest of the items in the MageTalk Store to get your swag game on point.

2:06 Slava’s African Escapades

Today, the boys are going to chat with Slava about his recent escapades across the continent of Africa with Olena Sadoma (@OlenaSadoma).

Slava tells us that the idea manifested suddenly when he saw someone post directions on how to drive from Ukraine to South Africa.

It started with those directions, but Slava ended up circumnavigating the entire country by heading South to Capetown along the West Coast and then North back to Ukraine along the East Coast.

32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers), 1800 US gallons of diesel, 44 countries, and 7 months.

And yes, Slava converted these numbers for us. 

This entailed driving 6-7 hours, 6 days a week.

5:21 The Point of No Return

Phillip asks if there was any point of the trip when Slava felt as if he had made a mistake. Slava is delighted to let him know that that point was never reached. Slava also lets us know that in some of the more remote parts of Africa, the nearest escape point could be a five-day drive away so it’s a good thing that he never threw in the towel.

However, some of the days were hard and some of the countries were more dangerous than others. An example of this was when he entered Nigeria and travel advisories warned him not to go to cities that he had to pass through. Let’s just say that there were threats of pirates, kidnapping, and ISIS all in one territory.

12:50 A Quick History

Before they get into the reasons for the trip, Slava gives a breakdown of his history and involvement in the Magento community.

13:30 The Aim of It All

Slava goes into the mission of the trip and what he hoped to accomplish on his journey.

He ran some real-time reporting on Instagram and Facebook to try and share his impressions on every country that he visited. One of the key takeaways from this was that before this trip, Africa seemed like a single entity to Slava. He had very little knowledge of the geography of the continent or how different each county is from one another.

Slava was blown away by the differences between not only each country but from town to town. It also made Slava realize how disconnected we are from basic life and how narrow our perspective is.

15:42 The Vehicle

Kalen asks Slava about the car he took on his journey. Slava lets us know that it was a 2005 Toyota LandCruiser 79.

Slava also talks about the struggles to not stick out in a vehicle when traveling through Africa as well as some of the ways he interacted with the people.

18:18 How Do You Plan for Something Like This?

Phillip asks Slava if any of his project management skills aided him in planning for a trip of this magnitude and scale.

Slava enlightens us that he procrastinated for a large part of the year leading up to the trip. For example, he got the car two months before the start date.

Slava also tells us some of the intricacies of planning a route through countries that don’t necessarily have roads that connect with each other. For example, they only had three Visas before leaving Ukraine and got the rest while traveling to account for the constant changes in the route.

20:58 Setting Out Without A Plan

Phillip asks if it is scary to set out on a journey with so little planned and set in stone.

Slava lets him know that its just part of the process and something that you have to get used to if you are going to take on a trip like this.

22:50 Life-Changing Moments and Shifts In Perspective

Kalen asks Slava if along the way he experienced any life-changing moment or things that caused his perspective to shift in how he views his life.

Slava lets him know that a lot of the changes are gradual and you only really notice them when you get back home.

You probably don’t realize how much convenience you have until you’re in a situation where you will have to plan to be without.

-Phillip Jackson

26:53 Unexpected Meetings

Slava talks about some of the unexpected meetings he had on his trip and how unbelievable some of these meetings actually are.

Some of the most humanitarian and selfless people are in the world and trips like this help introduce you to these people.

34:04 How many dangerous moments were there?

Kalen asks Slava how many dangerous moments he experienced while on his trip.

Slava informs him that, thankfully, there were not that many. But this doesn’t account for moments when they could have been in danger, but just didn’t know it.

Slava then goes on to talk about a time when he was crossing the border between Kenya and Ethiopia in the midst of a local conflict between tribes. People began throwing rocks (all while holding AK-47s) and thankfully Slava was able to get through very quickly.

36:58 What were some of the highlights for specific countries?

Kalen asks Slava to talk about some of the more country-specific highlights.

Slava talks about the deserts of Mauritania, the beaches of Sierra Leone, and the forests of Gabon.

He was surprised at the lack of animals in a large portion of the countries he traveled through, but Gabon was the first place where they encountered some of Africa’s famed wildlife.

Elephant GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Namibia and South Africa were also highlights of the trip because of how developed they were. In these places, it was easy to rent a car and Slava was able to partake in some of the conveniences and hospitalities of more modernized countries.

Zimbabwe was also a special location for Slava due to the laid back and hospitable people who reside there despite the economic crisis that the country is going through.

East Africa and South Africa were great for their National Parks and for seeing lots of animals.

Ethiopia is a wonderful place for culture as it is one of the only countries that has not been colonized.

Sudan used to be off limits due to wars and sanctions and has recently been opened up. Slava also ran into difficulties here because Zoom was blocked from Sudan so he was unable to get on his conference call. The Magento dev docs also cannot be opened from Sudan.

47:18 Experiences That We Lack

Phillip asks Slava if he now has a better perspective on how truly blessed and rich we are in regards to our modern conveniences.

Slava lets him know that the experiences are going to stay with him for a while. Even things that seem basic such as safety are not constants throughout the world and after being extremely cautious for half a year, Slava won’t take that for granted again.

49:10 Namibian Geocache

Last year Kuba Zwolinski (@snowdog) was running a marathon across Namibia and he planted a geocache in the desert and then sent the coordinates to Slava.

Fast forward half a year and Slava followed the coordinates and found the cache. Kuba planted it in a pile of old tires and warned Slava that there might be snakes…

51:35 The Show Must Go On

With the large chunk of time spent away from the business, Kalen asks Slava to talk about things went with Atwix when he was away.

Slava says that he had some time to plan and he gradually delegated things that were dependent on him before he left. He also did a test run of how things would work without him before he left.

Spoiler: things went well.

Slava was excited to get back into the work zone right away once he got back from his journey.

56:29 Any Publications on the Horizon?

Phillip asks Slava if he intends to publish anything about the trip.

Slava says that there is already enough material for a book on his Instagram and Facebook accounts and it has to be edited and put together.

There is also plenty of great material on Olena’s Instagram.

There are also lots of really great videos that chronicle on the trip on Slava’s YouTube Channel.

58:28 The Magento Association

Kalen asks Slava to talk a little about how the Magento Association is going.

Slava mentions that there might not be that as much communication going out right now as people might want to hear, but the Association is quickly progressing through lots of the tedious initial tasks.

Slava also lets the community know that the Magento Association will be present at Imagine this year and they will be able to talk much more about what the Association will be doing for the community.


Slava Kravchuk (@slkra) from Atwix