Magento is a very powerful system, but sometimes it can be a pain to develop for. You’ll find that sometimes your theme over-rides the default functionality, but sometimes a plugin or addon over-rides that and it can be a pain tracking things down.

With this in mind, I thought it would be worth noting down what steps I take during development of a Magento project. Please note – these settings are only really for a local development version, not for a live environment.

You might want to install the test data from (or you might not). It’s actually been updated last year (2011) and gives a good starting block if you’re new to Magento. It’s worth noting thought, that for the below tips, you need to install Magento first. All these tips come after that step.

  • Add: SetEnv MAGE_IS_DEVELOPER_MODE “true” at the end of your .htaccess file
  • Ensure that display_errors is on within your PHP installation or in your .htaccess
  • System > Cache Management > Disable All
  • System > Index Management > Reindex All – This does depend on how many products you’ve got in your store
  • System > Config > Advanced > Developer > Log Settings > Enabled => Yes
  • System > Config > Web > Search Engine Optimization > Use Web Server Rewrites => Yes
  • Rename /errors/local.xml.sample to /errors/local.xml

A couple of further tips might be to set up test user accounts and test orders if you need to interact with any of these elements. This can either be done via the admin interface or programatically.

Image Credit: tallkev