This month, Human Element will be hosting the first ever Ann Arbor Magento developer’s meetup. For more details on it, check out our Meetup group, or if you have questions please  leave a comment or email us at [email protected]. The meetup will be technical in nature, but is open to beginner developers.

Starting a Magento Developer’s Meetup: A Little Open Source Background

Free open source software is an important part of the world we live in. Interwebland has only become what it is today because systems like Apache and Linux are free open source software. The added costs of software licenses would make server farms unfeasible. There’s plenty written about this stuff already out there. Dig into the rich history with crazy characters like Richard Stallman that most people don’t know about. It’s worth investigating in my opinion. You can start with the Free Software Foundation, The Open Source Initiative, Creative Commons

Why the Magento Dev Community Needs Some Love

Over the past year I’ve learned my way around Magento’s inner workings and after some initial shock, I really like it. But as an open source community, it is a little lacking. I’ve seen and experienced other free open source projects blossom over the years, like Drupal, and it’s mainly due to the Drupal Community and the way they work together tirelessly to make it better and support each other in the process, not only online but also in person, at meetups and barcamps and conferences.

Magento needs this.

Instead of every Magento shop out there recreating their own version of the same AJAX search or Quickorder modules when the need arises, why aren’t we all collaborating and making the definitive Magento AJAX Search available for free to all Magento users in a common area such as Github where we can all collaborate to make it better. Trying to sell the minor things like banner slider modules or AJAX search for $40 a pop is kinda counter-intuitive.

So How Do We Make it Better?

As professional Magento developers, it’s in our best interest to make this THE go-to platform for eCommerce. Those types of add-ons and extensions should be free and readily available, and easy for the end user to install and use. These extensions are what makes Magento a good option when someone wants to start selling online. The same goes for themes, most of the good options, other than hiring a developer, are easily bought through the regular channels for about $100. Instead of pushing boundaries we seem to be putting out more of the same for $40 a download. But I’m sort of getting ahead of myself here. I should also mention I’m not the first or the only one to write about this stuff, and there are plenty of free modules out there, and even some forked versions of Magento, but nothing other than stackexchange seems to be a common ground.

All daydreaming aside, I figure the best way to start off in the direction of community and collaboration is to see who else out there is using Magento, or wants to learn more about it, and to meet in an actual room and drink actual beer and talk actual Magento.

And that kids, that… is the story of how the Ann Arbor Magento Meetup got started. Please join us this Thursday.