March 21, 2018
Alessandro is a Magento Masters Maker, author of the Magento Best Practices Handbook, and one of the most active members of Italy’s Magento community.
Ciao, Alessandro. You work for Bitbull, how did the company
It’s a play on words. The dog, a Pitbull, symbolizes strength. Bit relates to IT. When the founders founded the company they made this joke, and, at the time one of my partners had a Pitbull.
So it’s a dog-friendly office?
We don’t have an office, we have Slack! We’re a distributed team, we have some people abroad, a couple of guys in the UK and one guy in Latvia. We mainly work with Italian companies, and we’re trying to expand to new markets in Europe, so we basically talk English among ourselves. We have a customer in the Netherlands at the moment, but we’re just starting outside Italy, this is just the beginning!
Do you think it’s important to have face-time with your colleagues?
If some people work in the same city, they meet more often. Italy is a small country so for some of us, it’s easy to meet every now and then. This week six of us will meet in Milan. It’s just an hour by train. For me, going to see a remote colleague on the other side of Italy is the same as you might commute from one side of Los Angeles to the other.
Where do you all meet?
Various co-working spaces. We try new spaces all the time. Some are quieter than others. We like to change it up.
You are one of the community’s most experienced developers. Can you remember how you got started?
I was 13, and I had an Olivetti personal computer. I have just turned 43, and I started I was 13, so it’s almost 30 years! I love coding, I still do it, even though I’m the partner. I like to be involved in development and work with the team. I prefer to leave the accountancy and general management to other people!
Do you remember your first experience of Magento?
It was 2009. I had to develop an eCommerce site for a customer, and at the time we were using osCommerce. Then I heard about a new platform called Magento and I wanted to give it a try. I installed it and life was never the same again. Now I’m the co-owner of a company, we mostly do Magento work with our merchants.
“I started coding when I was 13. Now I’m 43. I still love it!” - Alessandro Ronchi
You wrote and self-published the Magento Best Practices Handbook. What motivated you to become an author?
It was always a dream of mine to write a book. I was not able to write a novel, because I didn’t have the inspiration! But I decided to write a technical book because, when I started, there were not so many books about Magento. I also wanted to give something back to the community, and write about things I couldn’t find on websites or in other books.
Will you write a sequel?
No, things are changing too fast for a static media like a book. I realized my dream in June, and Magento 2 was released in October of the same year. But there was a long tail of Magento 1 projects so the book was still useful to many people. Maybe I should have written it earlier.
Why did you self-publish the book, rather than find a traditional publisher?
I wanted to be free in terms of time, and also to be free not to publish if I didn’t manage to reach the quality that I wanted. If you commit to an editor they are very demanding, with strict publishing dates and the length of the book. I was contacted by a publisher, but I didn’t want to do it to earn money, I did it in my spare time to spread some knowledge.
What did you enjoy most about the book?
When the printed books arrived. I gave some for free to my friends. It was nice because some of my Magento community friends asked me to sign the book for them. James Cowie asked me to sign the book, which was an honor, because he’s one of the guys that inspire me.
What do you do for fun?
I have a passion for photography and in particular for taking pictures of people wearing costumes. I love comics and every year people attend Lucca Comics and Games in Lucca, in Tuscany. It’s a convention for people who enjoy comics, video games, and TV series. People wear costumes of their heroes, and I like to take pictures. They’re really colorful. It’s like Halloween on steroids.
What was the last thing you bought online?
A vertical mouse. It’s a cheap object, it cost 15 dollars, but it stops your wrists from hurting. I’m a big fan of Logitech as a brand but they don’t make this, so I switched to Anker. For 30 years I’ve worked with computers, so it’s important to have something ergonomic.
What is the key to a productive day
I work from home so I have advantages. When I need to be isolated in my work, it’s very easy to have no distractions. I work in my small room full of stickers and memorabilia from Magento, and I shut down any notifications from Slack, I close my email, and I’m able to get in the zone very easily.