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Theming a Magento Responsive Site with Two Developers

Steve Susina • July 8, 2013

With ecommerce websites expanding to multiple devices, the need for “responsive” design is on the rise. With responsive websites your design documents can triple in size. This can be an overload for your front-end developers. The issue with having more than one developer theme a site is not the technical aspect but maintaining a cohesive mindset of multiple developers working on the same project.

 

First you are going to need 3 main software tools to make this happen.

 

Toolkit:

 

  • The first is some kind of versioning application. For example: GIT or SVN. This allows your developers to commit code and update the latest version through a repository. 
  • Second is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which is a set of programs run from a single user interface. Two developers working with an IDE can help with creating a unified code format and front-end best practices. IDEs also help with merging code and debugging code while working with the same code base. A couple examples of IDE’s are Eclipse or Netbeans.
  • Third, which may be obvious, is an application that allows your developers to communicate in real time over the Internet, an example of a Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) would be Google Voice/Chat or Skype.

There are many more tools that can help out with the development of ecommerce websites but these are main applications one needs when multiple developers are working on the same project.

 

Now that you have your toolkit you will need a list of inner-company-protocols your developers must follow. These protocols are created to increase communication and keep the code base updated.

 

Protocols:

  • Developers must update and commit their code at least 3 times a day. This can be a bit of an over-kill, but front-end development using CSS can affect elements throughout the entire site and developers can easily overwrite each others code.
  • Plan on having a daily scrum which, should include developers and bring in a project manager to facilitate the meeting. The reason for the daily scrum (max .5hrs) is to keep communication lines open and point out any red flags/roadblocks your developers might have.
  • Make sure your developers participate in an end-of-week update meeting. This is different from your daily scrums because developers will be demonstrating their week’s worth of work to the Project Manager.

The last piece of the puzzle, which can be very complicated, is when two developers are working with one CSS file. CSS files (cascading style sheets) are very difficult to merge due to the fact that if one adds or removes classes, it changes the ordered stack within the file. Another issue is when dealing with versioning software, it is easy to overwrite the CSS file.

 

A rule of thumb is to have a master CSS file and have your developers commit to separate CSS files. Then have them work on major sections of the site independent of each other. For example, have one work on the homepage while the other works on the category page.  Only when the sections are complete do you merge them into the master CSS file.

 

Tools, protocols, and CSS managing can help put your front-end developers into a cohesive mindset. This will knock out the growing volume of responsive comps constantly being thrown at them. Rally the troops captain and keep the lines of communication open.

 


Steve Susina

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Steve Susina

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