5 Magento Front-end Exam Gotchas
James Basoo / August 5, 2015

Confused Ryan Reynolds

Working with Magento's a funny thing. It's a powerful, flexible platform but sometimes developing on it can be a little... odd. The front-end exam is no different. While it covers most of what you do daily when developing on Magento, there are a few unexpected curve-balls you should be aware of if you're going to pass. So read this post, fire up a blank Magento install and get studying!

The Gotchas

Although most areas are covered in Rob Kent's Test Questions, which is as close to a mock exam as you're going to get, there are some things you might not be expecting when you take the exam.

1. Exam Format

The exam is taken on a computer and is 150 minutes long, you'll probably finish in 120 minutes and have time to check over things you were unsure of. You can tag questions you want to come back to for later.

You can't take anything in with you, though you are given a little whiteboard and marker to work things out.

It's multiple choice but the answers are often very similar to each other. Sometimes you have to choose more than 1 valid answer.

In practice you'd use dev tools, a debugger, or just look to see what's happening on a page. In the exam there are lots of questions where you have to work out what happens based on a set of conditions.


2. XML Syntax

You have to know this inside and out. You'd think using Magento daily would teach you this but we often have a tendency to copy, paste and edit. However you need to know (by heart) every method of adding a file, the correct ways of adding/removing/editing blocks etc. When revising, don't copy/paste, write it by hand and drum it into your head. You'll be given a few very similar looking options and asked which one(s) are correct, so you need to know your stuff.

3. the fallback system

This is one of those things that in practice you'd use template hints or debug some other way. In the exam you're given scenarios and asked to work out what happens e.g.

You have a store, set to use the default/default theme.

You have a custom package 'mypackage' for your store with 3 themes, mytheme1, mytheme2, mytheme3.

You have 3 store views in your store, English, French, German. English is set to mytheme2, French is set to mytheme3.

You call this file "template/foo.phtml"

This file is found in:

  • base/default
  • default/default
  • mypackage/default
  • mypackage/mytheme1
  • mypackage/mytheme2

When this file is called from the German store, from which theme does it get the file?

  1. base/default
  2. default/default
  3. mypackage/mytheme1
  4. mypackage/mytheme2
  5. mypackage/mytheme3

I'd advise you fire up a blank Magento install, try something like the above and see what happens.

4. Prototype

The Prototype Javascript framework is a bit of a dinosaur at this point and extinct in Magento 2, however you still need to know the basics to develop on Magento 1. Even though you might use jQuery for most front-end things now there's still times you need to use core Magento JS functionality such as validating forms.

5. CSS

There's a few CSS questions so brush up on media query syntax, selector specificity, and the box model.

Exam Resources

There's a lot of resources out there created by fellow devs who have taken and passed the exam, and Magento themselves. Here's some of my favourites...

In Conclusion

I Am A Tiny Potato And I Believe In You, You Can Do The Thing