January 24, 2019
Magento Masters contribute a lot to the Magento Community so, naturally, people want to know what makes them tick. In this Magento Masters Spotlight, we’re chatting with Sander Mangel, Tech Lead at we are sure.
Sander was selected as a Magento Master for 2018 based on his 2017 contributions through organizing the Magento User Group Zuid-Holland, co-organizing Meet Magento Netherlands, MageUnconference Netherlands, and MageStackDay, speaking engagements around his Magento experience at a merchant, and consistently helping others in the community on Magento StackExchange.
Who Are You and What Is Your Role?
[Sander is now the Tech Lead at we are sure] I'm Sander Mangel, and I'm a lead developer at a merchant in Netherlands. It's called FitForMe, and we work there with a team of about six developers, some QAs, some product owners, to develop the webshop in both the Magento 1 and the new Magento 2 shop. That's what I do daily.
How and When Did You First Get Involved With Magento?
I got offered a new job doing Magento. I was like, "Okay. Never heard of that." So basically, I told them, "I don't know Magento. I know commerce, so I can do that." And they were like, "Yeah. Just get a book, right, and you will be fine." So, I bought the book and I learned some Magento, like, a month and then I started. The first day, I was like, "Man, what am I doing here?" The first month even, it was tough. But afterward, you kind of get the grasp of how Magento works, the ins and outs. And then after my first event, meeting the whole community, it was like, I was sold, like, that was it. So, that's basically how I started out nine years ago.
What Made You Decide to Contribute To The Magento Community?
What made me contribute to Magento was probably the first hackathon I went to. Back in the day, we didn't have Contribution Day, we didn't have a Magento Eng Com team. We didn't have anything. Basically, Magento was somewhere out there, and then you had the community coming together at hackathons and trying to build modules, either share your stuff or, like, experimental stuff. I know the first hackathon I worked on a module that's still running today. It was like a layered landing, you can make like a page with products. It's really cool. The second hackathon, I think I worked on something that added My Little Ponies to the backend. So, it's kind of like a variety of contributions we would make. Yeah, that was pretty broad, both very successful though.
How Has the Magento Community Impacted You?
Pretty much in your normal regular day job, you wouldn't meet as many cultures, as many different people as you would as a Magento developer if you're interested in doing that. I mean, you kind of have to go out and find them. Through Slack, through forums, through Magento's tech exchange, through the conferences, I do a lot of traveling. I speak to a lot of different people. Some of my closest friends come from the Magento community. We speak to each other daily on Slack. They're my friends and I see them once a year, probably here or something, or some other conference. But just to have, like, this whole world of people from around the globe right at your fingertips, that's great, all the experience you get from that. I think that's the biggest impact. Definitely the cultural part of it.
What Is One Thing the Magento Community May Not Know About You?
So, last time that question was asked, I ended up answering like, "I like to cook." And the guy asking me was, like, amazed. Next time I met him, I actually cooked for him, which was great. That was fun. So yeah, probably the cooking part, I really like to cook, some Asian stuff preferably. What else do people not know about me? I love cats. I really love cats. And I like to read. I really like to read.
What Is One Piece of Advice That You Live by And Would Like To Pass On To Other Developers?
I'll try to be as open as possible when I work together with people. I'm a lead developer, which kind of requires you to always have an answer to stuff, which I never have liked. Nine out of ten times, I won't know exactly what the answer is, right? But people expect it and it becomes easy to just assume that you have to give the answer and kind of pass by stuff that other people say.
Do You Have A Tip for Merchants and Developers to Maximize Partnership?
So, if I would have to give one tip to merchants about developers is, first of all, we're not unicorns. We might come across as weird, but no. We might be weird, but we can also communicate, so just try us. Second is, we know code, right? So, don't try to tell us how to build stuff, but we don't know your business. Do explain to us how stuff works and the issues that you run into, and we'll come up with probably an appropriate solution for you. Once you start to mingle those two, you fail. For developers, try to work with Post-its and whiteboards. It helps, like, get graphical. It really makes things easier.
What Does Being a Magento Master Mean To You?
First of all, it's cool to be recognized. You can make anything out of it you want, but it’s cool to be recognized. Because of our ego and it's nice when someone starts that way. To be honest, the best thing I like is that people come up to me. They will have heard of me through something like a broadcast or something like that, and they will come up to me and they will want to speak to me. Which is really cool because it's like I don't have to go out and say hi to people. People actually come to me and then you can have wonderful stories. Also that the Magento Masters from all over the world. So, for example, Rakesh. I know he's here at Imagine. I didn't speak to him yet, but I'm really looking forward to that. I wouldn't have spoken to him probably if he wasn't a Master, just because I wouldn't know about him, right? So, Magento Masters is also a way to kind of let people know we’re out there. It's nice to see different faces coming in each year, so that's really good.