Book Review – Mastering Magento Theme Design by Andrea Sacca

Book Review – Mastering Magento Theme Design by Andrea Sacca

It is widely assumed that knowledge is power and that it has to be built upon every day. It takes a lot of time to put a person’s knowledge into a book. For the past few months I was looking for a new book in order to expand on my frontend knowledge.

Due to lack of free time I usually read only particular sections of some book or I surf the Internet if I need a specific piece of information.

Long story short, just at that time Andrea Sacca published his new book which covers one of my favorite topics – Creating responsive Magento theme. As one of the frontend developers at Inchoo, I had the opportunity to receive one of first copies of that book (and a copy for entire Inchoo). To return the favor to the author, we were asked to write a review of the book.

First impression

The cover page of the book shows something that I personally don’t like very much: “Responsive Magento themes using Bootstrap.” Nevertheless, I decided to give the author a chance.

The book is very useful for developers who have just started Magento career, such as myself. I have found some very practical information that will hopefully help me in my future career. I believe that many young developers will be able to find good tricks in the book. In addition to this, the book can also be a helpful reminder for developers who already have some experience in Magento development.

Book evaluation

As already mentioned, this book is focused on Bootstrap integration in Magento. To be honest, this approach doesn’t appeal to me in particular. It is adorable that frameworks will speed up development process but adding one more framework in the mix is not a clean and nice solution. Although it is nowadays all about speed and flexibility, we need to develop responsive, light and agile web stores. In such cases each part of the puzzle should be taken into consideration in order to make the users satisfied. And adding some frontend framework just seems as unnecessary added weight on already heavy Magento.

The book obviously has not changed my mind and I still believe that custom solutions are a better option, especially the ones based on SASS or LESS preprocessors which can speed your development process and provide good flexibility. If you have time to put a few mixings together, it can really help you keep your code on a “diet”. It is known that frameworks are not just CSS but if you need something else specific, you can always borrow a good solution from frameworks or internet without adding all the extra unnecessary code.

Moreover, if we take a look at new Magento 2 frontend ideas and solutions, it is clearly seen that new Magento frontend developers do not implement any frontend framework; instead they decide to go with custom solution established on LESS preprocessor.


To sum up, this book is very useful for fellow frontend developers who are starting to get their grips on Magento.

It contains several very useful chapters, and I’ll highlight three of them:

  • Adding Incredible Effects to Our Theme
  • Creating a Magento Widget
  • Creating a Theme Admin Panel

I would certainly recommend this book as an integral part of the learning process for junior frontend developer audience, but would also advise everyone to expand on this knowledge and try their own approaches when creating amazing responsive websites.

If you are interested, you can get your copy of this book here.

Regards and good luck with your responsive Magento projects!

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  1. What in your opinion would be the best book to have as reference in building custom, clean and responsive themes?

    1. Hi Victor,
      to be honest, I have recommended Mastering Magento Theme Design by Andrea Sacca to few frontend developers. Because this is a useful book that you can use as reference in order to create responsive Magento theme, even you don’t planning to use Bootstrap.
      Also, I can suggest you Richard Carter – Magento Responsive Theme Design if you want to skip subjects like Bootstrap, Magento widgets and Admin theme adjustments.


  2. Hi Mladen, thank you for your review!

    I’m really happy about your feedback and I appreciate your thoughts about preference to create custom Magento Themes without using framework like Bootstrap.

    It is always better to create custom solution for every project in order to have a lightweight theme. But sometime, as explained in the book I think it is better to use a framework to speed up the development and use a lot of the ready-to-use components (such as the responsive grid and the js) to speed up the development and spend more time to understand and practice the core concept of Magento theming.

    Thank you again for your positive review and happy front-end coding!

    Andrea S.

    1. Hi Andrea,
      It’s a pleasure. Thank you for the book.

      I totally understand why you using this approach in theme development. In the lack of time we do what we must. But for us developers, speeding up development process isn’t always welcome approach 🙂 Good things take time.

      I wish you all best.

  3. Thanks for reviewing the book. I don’t think it’d be for me, and so I appreciate a candid opinion from someone else that helps me to decide where I spend my time reading.

    In my case, I work mostly with older versions of Magento (CE <= 1.7). To your point about selectively using responsive framework components without dumping its entire codebase on top of an already heavy platform, I agree. Bootstrap versions under 3 bundled their CSS with a separate responsive library. I found it useful to take advantage of their grid system by using only the responsive component. And I don't get all of the UI treatments that come with it.

  4. Can i get a preview copy to evaluate and this sounds pretty interesting to me. We are a theme development company and sometimes it’s good to have a sanity checks in place to ensure cutting edge solutions.

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