Last week at WordSesh there was a session all about the WooCommerce ecosystem. If you missed it, you can view it below:

Coen Jacobs also voiced his thoughts after being disconnected (#fail).

Unfortunately, as a developer-hermit I didn’t take part in this session, but I would like to give my thoughts anyway so here goes🙂

Advice for a starting WooCommerce developer

My advice would be to delve into the code and just build things – the best way to learn is by doing. There are ample extensions out there already publicly available for you to reference and learn from so I’d recommend looking for those as well.

Start small, maybe solve a problem or commit a fix then move to larger things. If you are looking for ideas you can look at the public ideas board to see the kind of things people want.

My WooCommerce development workflow

When developing extensions locally I use Vagrant with Varying Vagrant Vagrants. This keeps the WordPress builds up to date and lets me develop and test efficiently.

Within my test WooCommerce install I have imported the WooCommerce dummy data so I have products to test with, and to get extensions into my test install (to develop) I copy it to the vagrant install via a symlink.

I also have a second, online install for testing things which need to communicate with third party APIs such as PayPal. Keeping that synced is easy with the SFTP Sublime Text plugin.

Finally, all extensions I develop are hosted on Github (private repositories) so I’ve always got a backup and a history of commits.

How long does it take to build an extension?

This depends on the complexity of what you are building, and how much experience you have. For me personally, a gateway takes 1-2 days. Gateways are fairly simple in the grand scheme however, so if you are building something functionality related it could take longer. You’ll find as you get more familiar with the system, development is faster.

It’s also important to bare in mind you’ll also be supporting extensions and growing them over time, which is more time you’ll have to invest it keep your extension up to date as WooCommerce core evolves.

The best way to get in touch to show an add-on

IRC, email, our support desk..assuming you want to talk about getting it on WooThemes.com. But, this isn’t your only option; WordPress.org, other marketplaces…there are loads of places to get your work out there and get feedback from users so don’t be put off if its not suitable for WooThemes.com.

My support best practices

My biggest tip would be to check the System Status page in WooCommerce. Not only does it list critical parts of the system, installed plugins + versions, environment etc, it also highlights common issues such as missing pages and low memory. If you have an issue and you are not sure whats causing it, System Status should be your first stop.

Cool WooCommerce uses

One of my favourite (and one of the first I saw) builds I’ve seen would be Dealotto. This is a heavily customised version of WooCommerce making it a daily deal type site. The idea is that you buy a ‘ticket’ and this gives you a random discount for the daily deal, or may give you it for free.

I think this shows off just how flexible WooCommerce can be, and customisations can produce some interesting end results.

The future of WooCommerce

At the moment there is lots of talk about a WooCommerce conference which would be fantastic and really show how mature its becoming. Not only will this get more people involved with developing WooCommerce (which is good for everyone) it will allow people to network, meet other developers and users and really allow the platform to flourish.

Exciting times ahead.