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Insight edges of Magento Front-end Development With Bartek Igielski

Mubashir Ahmed Oct 14, 2016
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Arpatech: Bartek, you are a Front End Developer and specialized in Magento. How did you start your career? How long have you been involved with Magento? What was the reason for choosing this eCommerce platform?

Bartek Igielski: I started doing Web related stuff in 2008, when I was 16, by doing a simple HTML and CSS page for my family company. Then was few other pages, I was in technical college with IT specialization, so at all a spend a lot of time on solving various issues, working on my web and design skills (yeah, I though about being a designer), getting more and more familiar with programing, often even replacing teachers on their duty 🙂 At second class we have apprenticeships and I spend this time working in my friends company as a guy assembling systems of industrial automation. They were pleased with my job, so I spend whole vacations working. After third class, I tried to catch some freelance web project, but I failed and spend most of the time in the same company. After the fourth year of school and graduation, I have long vacations (4 months) before college start and decided to work in the same company, but… things changed. I started working as a guy in the office, who cares about various IT things. But then raised up a great project – we are going to create SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) based on web technologies and I’m going to be a Web Designer / Developer here! That’s how I created my first RWD project (it still works!) in 2012. Right after that, I start my quick episode with college. I don’t like learning not necessary things, so after a year I quit, so probably I’m never gonna say “Trust me, I’m an engineer” 🙂 In 2013 I started my first full-time job as a front-end developer. I was working on Rails-based web apps and it was my first time with eCommerce solutions, on SpreeCommerce. After 8 months I was forced to change this job, because my boss wasn’t a solid guy. And that’s how in April 2014 I started my work at Snowdog – without PHP, JavaScript or even Magento experience. So unfortunately I didn’t choose Magento, Magento choose me 🙂

Arpatech: You have worked on several different projects, you are master-mind of Frontools and SASS based Blank theme projects. Can you please tell our readers more about it?

Bartek Igielski: Let me give you a quick history lesson – Magento 1.0 was released in 2008. In 2014 they released 1.9.1 with “RWD” theme, which refreshes state of front-end in Magento, but we thread this just as a temporary solution before releasing Magento 2.

Magento 2 was released at the end of 2015, but unfortunately, it doesn’t fit needs of front-end developers. That’s why we, as a Snowdog, decided to change this on our own, but also release as a free open source modules ready to use. Frontools are set of tools for the front-end developer to based on Gulp.js to simplify and speed up development. SASS Blank theme is a translated form LESS version of build-in Magento 2 “Blank” theme, with some necessary modifications and simplifications. Our actions were noticed by community and Magento executives. They announced us as a community leader of “Moving from LESS to SASS” project and now we are working together trying to find out a way to improve the state of front-end of Magento 2.

Arpatech: What was your motivation for choosing a career as a Front-end Developer?

Bartek Igielski: I just like working on the edge of technology and design, being a link between two worlds. A few years ago I found a Saul Bass quote that really well describes my relationship with front-end “I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.”.

Arpatech: Bartek, you have vast expertise in front end development. Please share some tips to the readers regarding front-end development and choosing a career as a front-end developer.

Bartek Igielski: Front-end technologies are the one of evolving fastest in IT world. Every year we have a new JavaScript framework, styles processor, some new features in browsers, new screen sizes, new input types… it’s just evolving. If you like constant learning and care at least a bit about design, it’s right place for you.

BTW. JavaScript is future, now even NASA is using it to monitor space missions!

Arpatech: What is the best project you are engaged with or have done in your entire career? What are the challenges you faced and how you tackled them?

Bartek Igielski: It’s hard to choose one project. Creating software processes, so everything evolves over time. I’m still believing that *this* project wait for me somewhere in future.

Arpatech: You have giving presentations in Magento Meet-ups and conferences. Recently you presented on “Moving Magento 2 from LESS to SASS” in Meet Magento 2016. Can you please highlight the key points? Why is SASS more effective than LESS?

Bartek Igielski: SASS is way more strict language, it will not let you hurt yourself or your teammates writing weird code. Things like the global scope of variables, ability to chain mixins or lack of proper conditional statements and loops hurt. It’s hard, to sum up this topic in few words, so I’d advise you to watch the recording of my talk at #mm16de.

Arpatech: You are engaged with Magento conferences and meet-ups. What do you gain from these conferences? DO you recommend to attend such conferences? Will you be willing to attend more conferences in the future?  

Bartek Igielski: I like sharing my ideas and knowledge. Preparing to talks is always the best way to push yourself to learn new things.

Attending at conferences is always a great thing, every time you will learn something new or heard for the first time about a cool solution for your problems or just stay updated with current state of Magento development. It’s also a great place to just talk with other devs. For sure, conferences are almost always great 🙂

Arpatech: You will be presenting on “Improving State of Magento 2 Frontend” in the upcoming Meet Magento 2016. Can you please highlight some key points for the readers? Please tell readers about the best practices involved when working as a front end developer? Please give some suggestions to newbies on front end development.

Bartek Igielski: I’ll be talking mostly about templates and styles part. We are working on establishing the solid naming methodology because currently is one of most frustrating part of working with styles in Magento, but it’s normal, naming things is always hard.

Advice for newbies? Remember that somebody will read and edit your code in future, so please try to not make them cry 🙂

Arpatech: You have a goodwill in Magento Community, your contributions have made improvements in Magento World. Who are your inspirations in Magento community? Please tell some names to the readers who they can follow to learn more about Magento front and back end development.

Bartek Igielski: For me, real open source spirit in Magento Community is still in early phase of development, we can easily count all useful modules on our hand’s fingers, companies still decide to build everything just for own purposes instead of sharing solutions.

State of Magento front-end never was so great, it’s always behind the current state of technology, mostly because of long development cycles, not so frequent releases and complexity of the whole system. That’s why I always try to take inspirations from outside, limiting just to own, well known “neighborhood” isn’t so good when are you looking for improvements.

Arpatech: Apart from work, you are a technology freak and also likes music. Which technology fascinates you the most? What is the genre you prefer in music? What do you do in your free time?

Bartek Igielski: Nowadays everything is tech, I just love to track how things are designed and build. I’m in love with Elon Musk ideas  – electric self-driving cars, self-sustaining housing, solar power and of course Mars colonization plans (I’d love to live here), this guy is amazing.

Mostly I’m listening to metal-related genres like power metal, symphonic metal, heavy metal (I’m in love with Powerwolf), but right now I’m also making a quick flashback with trance music. It changes over years so much and I’m just stay with good old classics, like old episodes of Trance Around the World and the State of Trance.

In free time I’m an XC bike rider (still thinking about switching to Enduro…), craft beer drinker, gamer and just a lazy man 🙂

Mubashir Ahmed

Mubashir Ahmed

Magento Community Manager at Arpatech
Mubashir has served many clients in the domain of Web Development. He loves to work in Business Intelligence and Data-warehousing. He is engaged in latest eCommerce trends and also loves to Travel. You can follow him on Twitter @m_ahmdd or e.mail mubashir.ahmad[at]arpatech.com
Mubashir Ahmed