MageTalk Episode 207 – An Interview with Rick Willet

Kalen is joined by Rick Willet on today’s episode and they talk about the state of Magento in Japan, Rick’s programming journey, and Rick’s performance career as a member of STOMP.

Listen now!

Show Notes

1:02 Down a Host, Up a Guest

Kalen is joined today by Rick Willet (@SlappyCoder).

Phillip is out today and attending the Klaviyo:BOS Conference.

2:24 Rick’s Story

Kalen asks Rick to talk a little about himself and what he has been up to in the Magento world.

Rick started developing professional with ColdFusion after getting bored working on static websites.

Rick also mentions that he grew up studying dance and drumming due to his father being a drummer/musical director. Four or five years into his development career, he got the opportunity to perform in STOMP, which he performed in for 10 years in New York.

We also find out that Ben Marks (@benmarks) was a professional drummer.

9:15 Back to Magento

After getting injured, Rick hated that he was stuck in his apartment and slowly started getting back into some coding with some action script. He got pretty good at Flash before Steve jobs killed Flash altogether.

This eventually led him to develop sites that required eCommerce functionality and that rabbit hole eventually led him to Magento in 2012. This was around the Magento 1.6 time.

At some point, the switch flipped, and Rick became very passionate about Magento and its open-source makeup.

14:09 A Work-From-Home Expert

Rick has been pretty much exclusively working remotely for the past seven years of his development career and admits that his home office is probably a little too tweaked out.

He also brings up that he’s starting a new gig soon at the BORN Group.

Kalen also has been working from home for about seven years and brings up how it certainly has its pros and cons.

Rick also points out that working from home has tapped into his history of being a performer and capitalizes on his mental capacity being highest in the evening.

18:36 A Japanese Love

Kalen asks what brought Rick to Japan.

First off, Rick’s wife is from Japan but he also finds that being in a country where the language is not his native tongue is very mentally stimulating for him. He also gets into his history with the country and what made him fall in love with it.

He also talks about the time when one of his friends literally saved his life.

Kalen mentions that Japan is one of the top places on his list of places he wants to visit.

Apparently, the quality of the food in Japan is striking, especially when you get out of Tokyo.

According to Rick, the celery is REALLY good.

25:13 Rick the Documentary Star

Rick gives us some history of how his documentary was made. Spoiler: he may or may not meet his wife in this story.

He also gives us a breakdown of what the documentary was about and the mission he had behind wanting to bring his skills and expertise in the world of percussion.

31:18 The Technological Galapagos

Rick refers to Japan as the “technological Galapagos” as their technology is far and ahead from what we have available in the USA.

There’s an interesting dichotomy between being very advanced in certain technologies but being completely disrupted by global technological movements.

They were building some amazing technologies, but a lot of them can’t be exported due to other countries not staying with the same technologies.

35:06 The Japanese Magento Situation

Where are programmers going to head with the newer generation of stores and sites?

Rick believes that Magento is in a good position with the changing landscape because of PWA. The easy integration between PWA and MySQL makes it easier for places like Japan to leverage the backend with any front end you want to use.

Rick also points out that the actual eCommerce ecosystem is not as advanced in Japan because there was simply no need to be up until recently because most of the behind the scene services were driven in the background by large banks.

To clarify, there was no middle man for payment services and transactions went directly through the banks themselves.

Kalen is floored by the fact that you can pay for online shopping items in cash at various convenience markets where your purchases are shipped.

42:14 Magento Devs in Japan

Kalen asks if Rick knows any Magento developers in Japan and what the situation is for Magento developers out there.

Rick mentions how he’s met some of the staff from Veriteworks which is the main solutions partner out in Japan. He also says that they’re contributing to some great stuff.

The lack of Magento documentation available in Japanese is a big reason why the Magento ecosystem has not developed as quickly. For self-taught programmers, this lack of documentation is a big hindrance to becoming fluent in the development language.

Hirokazu Nishi (@hirokazu_nishi) is a Magento Master and the CTO of Veriteworks who also organizes Meet Magento Japan.

46:30 A Huge Opportunity

Kalen brings up that Asian market of India, China, and Japan ihas huge opportunity in each of those enormous markets.

Rick dives into some of the big markets in Japan and how there are lots of areas to capitalize on in these markets by bringing the experience online.

A lot of people still find things on the internet via a portal that curates their experience.

The interplay between the real world and the digital world leads to more areas of opportunity.

-Rick Willet

52:29 Further Implications for Magento

Rick confesses that he didn’t realize his thinking was constrained to the world he had lived in until he began seeing how other countries use technology. He then takes this idea and applies it to areas of opportunity for Magento.

You are jumping past just selling a product and making peoples’ lives easier.


-Rick Willet (@SlappyCoder)
-Ben Marks (@benmarks
-Hirokazu Nishi (@hirokazu_nishi)

Klaviyo:BOS Conference
BORN Group
Hirokazu Nishi Magento Master Spotlight
Meet Magento Japan

Prepare for Weekly Career Learning Bumps

You can’t just sit and code. As a developer you have to constantly be learning new things and staying on the cutting edge. The problem is, how? Are you a reader? Do you prefer tutorials? Do you like podcasts? (We hope you like podcasts) 🙂 No matter how you learn, you have to be prepared to learn. Cal Evans and Mario Peshev talk about different methods of learning and how software developers can use them.


The post Prepare for Weekly Career Learning Bumps appeared first on No BS Engineering.

Interviews from php[world]: Cal Evans, Taylor Otwell, Samantha Quiñones, and Gary Hockin

In Episode 25

Our crew sat down and snagged some interviews in the atrium at php[world] in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. This episode packs a lot into one hour and 13 minutes.


  • Practical static analysis tools like Psalm and PHPStan and moving away from DocBlocks to using native PHP 7 type hints.
  • John reflects on how his first talk went and the keys to giving a good talk.
  • Cal Evans on php[world], the breadth of the PHP community, new stuff in PHP 7.4, searching for PHP related information online, and his new role with SiteGround.
  • Taylor Otwell discusses how Laravel started, what’s new in Laravel 6, the potential impact of PHP 7’s JIT compiler, focusing on open-source and educational efforts in 2020, and funding open-source work.
  • Gary Hockin goes over his advice in Community Corner about getting started in public speaking, how speaking at conferences can impact your career, and how to choose talk topics.
  • Samantha Quiñones chats about her keynote at php[world], the history of computing, COBOL, preparing talks, PHP’s strength as a web-first language, and working at SkillShare.

The post Interviews from php[world]: Cal Evans, Taylor Otwell, Samantha Quiñones, and Gary Hockin appeared first on php[architect].

MageTalk Episode 206 – Brazilian Blowout

In today’s episode, Kalen and Phillip introduce the MageTalk Fitness Challenge, review a lot of Magento Community events, hate on PWA, and get into some of the philosophy of eCommerce Platform Selection.

Listen now!

You can also watch the live stream here.

Show Notes

3:43 Gettin’ Your Fitness On

Kalen and Phillip are officially announcing a MageTalk Weight Loss Challenge.

If you want to join in, post a Tweet with #magetalkweightlosschallenge to get involved. And there might be prizes involved…

They brainstorm some possible configurations for the challenge but are challenging all of you MageTalk listeners to get your fitness on!

9:27 Speaking of Cool Titles

Kalen ran into Jenna Warren from Creatuity and he thinks that her title (Vice-President of Special Projects) is really cool. It has a very CIA vibe to it.

They also both agree that they need to get Jenna on the show.

11:14 Kalen’s Healthy Day-to-Day

Phillip asks Kalen to talk a bit about what his day-to-day routine looks like now that he’s getting healthy.

I’m surprised there wasn’t a banana joke here.

Kalen gives us the rundown of what he has been doing to lose an impression 25 pounds so far.

Here’s a sneak peek.

Phillip also weighs in with some fitness tips and how he has maintained his fitness model status. Are we a fitness podcast now?

Phillip recounts his recent front tire blowout bike accident and the resulting road rash.

19:53 Meet Magento New York Recap

The boys recap Meet Magento New York and Phillip heard that it was a pretty dope event. There were a lot of first-timers who had a really good time.

Neither Kalen or Phillip attended, but they got some serious FOMO from seeing how active Twitter was.

Kalen also talks a bit about how he has been trying to find the right balance with his community engagement.

The boys struggle to define what a Brazilian Blowout is. Keep it clean, boys.

25:32 A Plethora of Events and a MageX Review

Phillip finds it fascinating that in the space of a little over a week there was Meet Magento New York, MageX in Austin, Meet Magento Brazil, and Meet Magento Poland.

A lot of people attended MageX and it was the highest attended Magento event in the Austin area with the most merchants.

Kalen gives a shoutout to longtime Twitter friend John Davis (@jdavis2125) who he finally met at MageX.

27:47 Is PWA the New CBD?

Phillip likens PWA to CBD as they both have been proclaimed as a miracle elixir that cures everything.

But at least CBD actually does something…

There is definitely some stuff out there, but extensibility surely isn’t there yet.

Phillip gives us some insight and lets us know that Shopify has a very mature GraphQL stack for catalog, so PWA development is progressing faster on that platform.

Technology is a moving target, and you can’t just drop anchor and pin PWA development on the current technologuy stack.

-Phillip Jackson

Unfortunately for the community, Phillip predicts that PWA will only be applicable in the following scenarios:

  1. If you are a very small single operator that can focus on delivering one site at a time.
  2. If you are an operator that can build just what you need and only that.
  3. If you are a giant agency that has massive capabilities as well as clients with hordes of cash that they can dump into PWA projects.

Kalen thinks that for the Magento community, the answer to PWA is simple: go with one of the community PWA options.

35:28 A Pop Quiz for Kalen

Phillip asks Kalen if he remembers what date Magento 2 was launched, but Kalen nevers remembers these things.

The answer: November 17th, 2015. Coming up on four years. 

There was a huge focus for years on building the API stack, and there are still gaps in the API years later.

Kalen calls out Phillip for his alternate, super positive Instagram story personality.

38:03 A Deviation from the Norm

Kalen points out that Phillip has gotten away from being Magento-centric and is becoming more of a retail strategist. This is leading to him focusing less on platform specifics, and concentrating more on brand image and creating products that people love.

Phillip thinks of things as The Why, The How, and The What.

What does this mean and how can you apply it to your commerce strategy?

Art 3D GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

42:38 Is Here is a CMS tool for M2. It’s an extension, it’s open-source, and for monetization, there is a cloud option.

The announcement was made at Meet Magento Poland.

Phillip finds it interesting that the UI seems a little hard to use in that it requires a lot of choices. It seems like it’s going to take a lot of work to build. However, it is de facto the best option you have for a Pagebuilder tool in Magento open source.

If you put this together with a couple of modules like Yireo, you’ll end up with a package that is competitive with Magento Commerce.

46:28 Have you heard of Webflow?

Phillip throws a curveball and asks if Kalen has heard of Webflow.

Webflow is a modern SaaS equivalent of WordPress. It is an incredibly powerful drag-and-drop page builder toolkit for building websites and it has an eCommerce capability. The things that you can build with Webflow are incredible, and the fact that it’s free is truly incredible.

Well, we know Phillip is a fan.

You can design an objectively beautiful site in Webflow (as a designer) and then export that site to static HTML and deploy it wherever you want.

We are very close to having the developer skillset getting closer to the end user or the designer.

-Phillip Jackson

Most new brands that are launching eCommerce sites have small catalogs so they don’t need all of the infrastructures that Magento has for brands with larger catalogs.

The challange of being an eCommerce platform today is that you have to have a million features that aren’t good fits for everybody.

-Phillip Jackson

53:37 The Price of Admission

With the merger of the Adobe and Magento ecosystems, it’s exceedingly difficult to get into the higher-level partner ecosystem because of high costs.

The boys get into some of the details on the waves this high cost of entry is making within the developer community.

Shocked Shopping GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

58:40 Some Acquisitions

Kalen brings up some recent acquisitions within the Magento community.

Nexcess was acquired by Liquid Web.

Nexcess then acquired some of MageMojo’s data centers that had clients running sites on M1.

Mediotype was just acquired by Blue Acorn iCi.

1:02:12 Last Stab Shout Outs

Kalen gives a shoutout to Emily Pepperman (@bkbeltgal) who literally met Chuck Norris.

Mentions / Links

Jenna Warren
-John Davis (@jdavis2125)
-Emily Pepperman (@bkbeltgal)

MageTalk Weight Loss Challenge
Meet Magento New York
Meet Magento Brazil
Meet Magento Poland
Nexcess acquired by Liquid Web
Mediotype Acquisition
Blue Acorn iCi

Be a Jack of All Trades

Robert A. Heinlein put it best in his novel “Time Enough for Love” when he said “Specialization is for Insects”. Developers these days need a wide variety of skills and can’t rely on just one or two to pay the bills. Join us as we talk about the breadth of skills a web developer needs to succeed these days.

Show Notes


The post Be a Jack of All Trades appeared first on No BS Engineering.

MageTalk Episode 205 – Humming Makes Your Voice Better

In a surprise mid-week episode, the boys talk about the disruptive power of marketplaces, sustainable initiatives, and predict how AI might bring about the end of the world. Listen now!

Watch the video live stream here.

Show Notes

3:40 Humming Makes Your Voice Better

Kalen enlightens us with the information that humming makes your voice sound better. Both Kalen and Phillip talk about how their children are constantly humming.

4:54 The Fast Track to Magento Certification

The Magento 2 Certified Associate Developer Examn is not an easy test. Something Digital has a program that takes new hires and guides them from no knowledge of Magento all the way through being a certified developer. Phillip also goes into some detail on the mentor program that Something Digital uses.

Kalen asks if Something Digital has ever considered talking about how they organize their mentorship programs at conferences.

Phillip says that there has been some talk about open-sourcing the whole process.

10:25 A Useful Data Dump

Phillip brings up Hawraf, a company that shut down but dumped all of their data that wasn’t client-facing into a Google Drive that chronicles all of the tools they used and created when forming their business.

Getting a point-in-time snapshot of a creative agency at the top of their game that details successes and failures is an invaluable resource.

More companies, especially services organizations like a creative agency could benefit of having a culture of extreme openness.

-Phillip Jackson

Kalen remembers a payments company that used Github publically for everything that they did. He also brings up how he was recently watching a Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) video in which Gary says that he gives out all of his best tactics in a very transparent way.

15:27 An Interesting AI Shift

Phillip brings up a podcast called Culturally Relevant in which the host David Chen was talking about how they handle AI in the Matrix film universe and how AI would actually destroy the real world.

Kalen thinks that Elon Musk’s take on AI with the neural link is especially brilliant. Basically, we can’t stop AI from progressing, but the neural link will connect our brains directly to all of the AIs of the world and we will be essentially able to compete with the AIs.

I thought this was a Magento Podcast?

21:07 Marketplaces, API, and Magic Quadrants

Kalen saw a tweet from Tom Robertshaw (@bobbyshaw) about his upcoming talk at Meet Magento New York in which he’ll be talking about how to protect your customers from Magecart attacks.

PJ HOT TAKE – You can’t be Magecarted if you’re not on Mage!

Phillip also talks about some of his personal history of giving talks on the digital shopping cart and how marketplaces have the power to be disruptive in the industry.

Marketplaces create a unique opportunity for people to participate in retail where they wouldn’t normally be able to. You need talented people to be able to pull this off (especially on Magento cloud) so there are definite hurdles in creating a marketplace.

StockX was hacked with over six million customers records exposed, and if a large custom platform can’t keep customer data safe with enormous sums of funding, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Adobe/Magento was just rated as a top tier platform in the new Gartner Magic Quadrant and there was a fascinating article from commercetools CPO Kelly Goetsch about how this was the first magic quadrant that used API as one of the qualifiers for a top tier platform. This allows other competitors like commercetools to rise above larger companies because the game is changing.

35:21 Meet Magento New York Agenda

Phillip tries to remember some companies that attempted to use Magento to push the envelope and set trends in the eCommerce world.

Kalen was looking through the Meet Magento New York agenda and noticed that there was a lot to do with API and headless options. He also notices a talk on Adobe Sensei which he is really excited about.

The boys continue to beat the dead horse that is the lack of coupon code joke. 

39:02 The Rumor Mill is Turning

Phillip has heard through the grapevine about a restructure of Magento and Marketo within Adobe. It looks like the former Marketo CMO Sarah Kennedy Ellis will be heading the marketing efforts behind Magento as a product.

Magento is further separating its commercial sales practice from its enterprise sales practice and Gary Specter (@gspecter) is going to take over the commercial sales for both Magento and Marketo.

45:01 Hot Takes on Hosting

Kalen put out some tweets that were asking about where people did their hosting.

He got a lot of responses and a lot of people had very strong opinions on their hosting.

The boys give some of their hot takes on the ins and out of hosting as weill as some of the struggles that companies face if they want to host themselves without going to a hosting provider.

Spoiler: don’t do your own hosting.

55:30 Future Commerce Sustainability Initiative

Phillip has challenged both himself and Future Commerce to state what they are going to be doing to affirm their commitment to sustainable business practices. They put out a press release last week announcing that they have created their own Sustainability Initiative but will also hold their partners to this sustainability initiative.

Google Cloud is the only cloud provider that runs all of their server centers on 100% renewable energy, so all of Future Commerce’s infrastructure will be moved to Google Cloud.

59:09 Kalen Challenges the Data

There was an interesting graph that Kalen saw on Twitter that sparked some opinions.

Essentially, this graph is saying that startups are in decline, but Kalen doesn’t believe this at all. He personally knows so many people that own side businesses, and can’t imagine how this doesn’t apply to the American Economy in general.

Phillip speculates how this graph was created and essentially, the avenues that someone can take to start a business are now almost limitless, but back in 1979, there were far fewer ways to begin your own business. Entrepreneurship in 2019 in the United States can be associated with apps that don’t have to be registered with the state in order to be in business for themselves.

The boys get into the future of the show and what possible directions the content could go in.


-Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)
-Tom Robertshaw (@bobbyshaw)
Kelly Goetsch
Sarah Kennedy Ellis
-Gary Specter (@gspecter)

Magento 2 Certified Associate Developer Examn
Hawraf Google Drive
Culturally Relevant Podcast
Meet Magento New York
StockX Hack
Magento Gartner Magic Quadrant
commercetools Article on the Gartner Magic Quadrant
Adobe Sensei
Future Commerce Sustainability Initiative


MageTalk Episode 204 – What is the Future of Adobe Open Source?

Kalen and Phillip get into some serious gossip about the future of Adobe Open Source as they dive into the truth behind some high-level employee departures from Adobe. What does the future of open source look like?

Listen now!

You can also watch the video live stream here.

Show Notes

2:10 Just Do It, Buy a Technology Partner

In true Phillip fashion, he starts the show off with a Nike tidbit.

Are we surprised?

Nike just acquired Celect which holds a cutting-edge intellectual property portfolio across data science and software engineering. Celect’s cloud-based analytics platform provides proprietary insights that allow retailers to optimize inventory across an omnichannel environment through hyper-local demand predictions.

The interesting part is that Celect houses the data of some of Nike’s competitors like Puma and Aldo, so technically, Nike now owns that data.

5:53 What is the future of Open Source?

There was a recent tweet that shed some light on some pretty big news from the Adobe front.

David Manners (@mannersd) is leaving Magento for bitExpert over in Germany and Matt Asay (@mjasay) is leaving to head over to AWS Cloud.

Phillip will always remember David as the founder and creator of MageEngage, and once again reminds us of his superpower to resurrect dead podcasts with his words.

9:08 A Little Birdie Told Me

Kalen hints that he’s heard that someone else is leaving Adobe from an inside source.

Phillip tries to pry and get the dirt on who’s leaving.

Phillip also credits Kalen for teaching him all of his YouTuber skills.

10:52 Here’s the Deal…

There is a dramatic uptick in people leaving Magento (two so far….I guess that’s an uptick?).

The boys break down the details of who has left so far, and what that means for both Magento and the Magento Association.

Is the Magento Association just for events and has it done something that has directly affected open source?

To answer this, the boys have to head to the Magento Association website.

Eric Hileman (@ericvhileman) from MageMojo gives a lot of good feedback on this topic in the comments. Eric says that the Magento Association has no funding from Adobe other than Magento/Adobe paying for SmithBucklin.

If one or two people leaving Adobe as a company has a material impact on the future of Magento and open source, then we were probably doomed from the start. I would hope that one or two people do not have direct and total control of the open source vision at Adobe.

-Phillip Jackson

19:57 A Larger Shift

While one or two people don’t make or break the future of open source, is it indicative of a large shift?

Matt Asay was at Adobe for three years and nine months, and this is a pretty standard tenure for someone in the tech industry.

David Manners was at Adobe for one year and eleven months, so just under the two-year mark.

Kalen harkens back to when the acquisition was happening and how excited Matt was with the merging of the communities. Excited enough to leave altogether it seems.

Phillip also goes into some more detail on the logistics behind Matt Asay’s leaving. There might have been the possibility for a relocation that was not necessarily wanted by some of the open source team.

Does the acquisition of Magento strengthen Adobe’s stance on open source? The restructuring could be a hint at some very positive growth and not the harbinger of an open source apocalypse.

Does Magento give Adobe an advantage in open source?

35:52 Boons and Shifts

Phillip would put money on the fact that this is a chance for Magento to show that they are doing better than any other organization within Adobe. He also hopes that Adobe will shift and give Magento control over more aspects of the Adobe umbrella in the future.

Kalen points out that one thing that they are not giving to Magento is the ability to hire remotely. Magento was beginning to make several remote hires right before the acquisition, but with the acquisition, these remote hires are being reversed and a requirement to be within certain offices is being set.

Hiring remotely is a huge competitive advantage.

-Kalen Jordan

If someone is not willing to relocate and change their life around a job, then those people were probably more prone to leave at some point. This could be a strategy for retention to see what employees are in it for the long haul.

David chimes in that he was never asked to move and that remote work is still a possibility.

41:50 Jumping Ship

Kalen says that there is a non-trivial number of people that left Magento right after its acquisition by Adobe.

Tony Ciarelli from Something Digital worked as a Channel Manager at Magento for two years and offers some frame of reference for Ben Pressley’s leaving. 

43:10 Commerce Hero Updates

Phillip asks if Commerce Hero has been around long enough to have a median time of employment for its placements.

Kalen says that it would be useful if he could pull in the LinkedIn work histories, but claims that the LinkedIn APIs are a hot mess. To do basic authentication and get a basic avatar image, the API is great, but to do anything more than that, fuhgeddaboutit.

Phillip asks TJ Gamble (@ecommerceaholic) if his new streaming set up is working out.

Kalen also calls out Phillip for hating on the audience participation portions of the show back in the day. Phillip says that is because he used to be concerned about the purity of an audio podcast.

How times have changed…

45:19 Future Commerce Update

Phillip announces that Future Commerce has relaunched its subscriber email to shift to be more brand focused and that they are scaling out into market research.

Getting deep into market research.

47:44 Salary Survey

Commerce Hero is about to do a salary survey. All you have to do is authorize your LinkedIn account and then input your salary. Kalen says this authorization will make the survey more credible.

Phillip says he would absolutely fill out the survey if it was anonymous, but would absolutely not fill the survey out if he had to say who he was.

Phillip polls the live audience to see if they would take the survey.

Kalen incentivizes the survey by releasing more detail on the results depending on if you identify who you are.

52:00 A PSA from Phillip

Phillip says that if you are an agency that is listening to this episode, it is super important for you to be asking your customers what they think of you. It is also super important for you to understand what your customers think they need from you. You can get additional insights into this feedback depending on how you ask the questions.

All of this information is part of improving your company and making your customers happy.

Kalen goes back to asking how to get more people to take the Salary Survey.

54:59 Let’s Talk About (COUPON ALERT)

Kalen now has an account at and gives out some coupon codes.

Simply enter the code “MageTalk” to get a 4-week free trial.

Kalen is very happy that MageTalk can once again offer coupon codes.

Kalen also sings some praises at the content on and it makes him think about how much the Magento community has evolved.

A huge shoutout to Vinai Kopp (@VinaiKopp) for having a successful community-focused product.



-David Manners (@mannersd)
-Matt Asay (@mjasay)
-Eric Hileman (@ericvhileman)
Tony Ciarelli
-TJ Gamble (@ecommerceaholic)
-Vinai Kopp (@VinaiKopp)

Nike’s Celect Acquisition
AWS Cloud
Magento Association website
Future Commerce
Commerce Hero Salary Survey