The Art of Ecommerce Debugging

An entertaining guide to quickly and effectively solve problems for ecommerce developers.

The tech book that isn't a tech book.

Books about software development are boring. Like ridiculously boring. There are massive blocks of code to read—and when you try to put this code into practice, it doesn't work! Yep, they're also discouraging! (to be fair, this is a generalization as there are some solid reads)

This book is not one of those dry, boring, painful technical books. I've learned from reading enough of them. This book is concise, interesting, packed with stories and comics, and gives you graspable (if that's a word) insights that you can use, today, as you fix bugs in an e-commerce setting. If you aren't convinced that you have saved 2 hours of debugging time in 2 months, we will refund your money.

A first-of-its-kind course.

Now available, you can purchase the accompanying course for Magento. If you are a junior or mid-level developers, consider this course as sitting down with a senior developer and debugging some freaking-hard problems. I take the theories and examples in the book and brings them to life with legit, real-world problems. Walk through (at this point) 5 bugs—some of them excruciatingly difficult, but never fear, the answer has already been discovered. The environment you learn in is a brand-new code base with thousands of lines of undiscovered code along with a fully-functioning sample data set with plenty of orders. See preview here.

The story

The checkout is down. Your project manager is breathing down your neck. Someone is reminding you that you're a certified developer with "how many years of experience" and that you should be able to get this fixed, quickly.

We, ecommerce developers face real, intense pressure. We have to keep the site up. We have to fix problems quickly. We have to prevent bugs from getting into the system. I feel this all the time (and I'm guessing you have too). Through the course of my 10-15 years as an ecommerce developer, I've picked up tools and ideas that have reduced that feeling of stress. These have put me in the driver's seat in (most) situations. Yes, there are still those crazy-weird problems, but that number is constantly decreasing. The Art of Ecommerce Debugging is where I give my learnings to you to make your load lighter.

See a preview section

Ok, you might not be sold just yet. That's fine. Take a look at this section of the book. This section introduces a valuable system for approaching problems: the TAD framework. Read through this and see what you think:

Industry acclaim:

I was quite impressed at the unique approach—it's not your typical "programming" book at all. It bridges the gap between the tech underpinning e-commerce systems and real-world, solutions-based thinking that are critical for any e-commerce developer.
Ben Marks—Magento Community Expert, now Director Global Market Development at ShopWare

After spending more than 20+ years in e-commerce and havin' debugged to many out there I finally found the holy grail, "The Art of Ecommerce Debugging". This book will give you a clear outline on what or not to do when being or becoming an e-commerce professional. It's a must-read for everybody, not just devs.
Ray Bogman—Senior Business Solutions Architect at Adobe

This book is fun and fast to read, and I picked up some tricks I didn't know before (after 24 years). Besides the tricks and stories, it's also very motivating to keep growing as a professional developer! I would consider it a good gift to any PHP developer, especially in the ecommerce world.
Vinai Kopp—World-Renowned Master Magento Practitioner

Joseph does a great job outlining a practical game plan for solving any bug, even the most complex ones. On top of that he walks the reader through a variety of real-world bugs he's dealt with in his day job, showing how that approach can be applied to get to the bottom of things. Debugging is one of the more difficult aspects of software development for many developers. I'd recommend all developers read this book as it provides the toolset they need to become better debuggers.
Max Chadwick—Magento Expert (Joseph says he's one of the best practitioners in the world)

Debugging PHP applications has come a long way since var_dump() and die(). If you are still stuck in those days, let Joseph show you not only the new tools, but the strategies you need to debug today's complex web applications.
"Uncle Cal" Evans—World-famous PHP Guru

There are no resources for advanced Magento 2 developers on the market. You could read books for beginners and then? Huge gap! In his book, Joseph Maxwell answers the craving voice of Magento developers, shares valuable knowledge and his passion and experience. It's not another tutorial book but rather a journey that changes your mindset on being an expert.
Lukasz Bajsarowicz—ecommerce developer and Magento Core Contributor

Great examples of situations that add enough humor and details to keep it easy to follow yet pull out ideas and concepts to use in everyday work situations.
Russell Albin—Principal Architect at Blue Acorn
This is awesome book, it is a fun to read in one breath. There are some points I didn't realise that is so easy. It is brilliant book for starter and experienced developers.
Eduard Zuiev—Senior Magento Backend Developer—PROFSTEP

This book is for every PHP eCommerce developer who wants to be an expert. Joseph has done the fantastic work to provide the practical knowledge with the real examples which anyone can start using from the day 1 after reading this book. I highly recommend this book to every PHP dev.
Sarvagya Pandey—Magento 2 Certified Expert & Business Practitioner

I read the book and It's great! :D

There are a few very important tricks I learnt from the book which are very valuable for me. I really appreciate that the book is so condensed and so packed with useful information.

Thank you again and keep up the good work! I'm your fan!! :D
Marcin Dancewicz—Ecommerce Developer

Why you shouldn't buy this book.

You don't need another paperweight. My wife kindly helped me clean up my desk. I had too much stuff on it. I took a photo, and it almost looked like a crime scene.  Whether or not your desk looks like mine, you wouldn't want another book to clutter it. Paperweights are useless. If you aren't going to read the book, it'll be a paperweight. Save your money.

You are confident you can learn it online. There are some really good articles online about debugging. Here are a couple of my favorites. We even recently launched a podcast about debugging, and we post a new episode every week. You can join our free training series, live on YouTube on the first Wednesday of every month, where I teach developers how to write better code and prevent bugs from ever getting into their systems. I even invite you to join our Slack Channel where over a thousand developers are already collaborating. But, at the end of the day, there's a ton of information in this book that I have yet to see anywhere else. It's the book that I wish I had ten years ago, starting out as an ecommerce developer.


  • Full-color + hard-cover (digital version available, too)
  • 193 pages
  • 40USD
  • Shipped to your door for free
  • ISBN: 978-1-7367586-0-1

What is it?

It's also a course to provide solid and practical debugging experience (available as a separate purchase and coming soon).

Ultimately, it is the letter to my younger self—everything that I wish I knew ten years ago. I don't hold anything back: it is my goal to train and equip you as a master debugger to solve the toughest challenges you have ever faced.

  • Part 1: The Characteristics of a Great Developer. Before we can look at the cool tools to quickly solve problems, we must identify the mindset with which we approach and solve problems. Yes, it's critical so we spend the first pages discussing this concept.
  • Part 2: The TAD Framework. You've probably never heard of such a thing... for a good reason. The idea is nothing new, but I package it in a way that makes sense for e-commerce developers, ie, you. This is a methodology for approaching problems. TAD is an acronym for Take Inventory, Attempt a Fix and Do it Again.
  • Part 3: Approaching and Solving Problems. This is what you were expecting from a book about debugging. If the title was "Debugging, for eCommerce Developers," maybe this part is all that's necessary. But, the title is The Art of Ecommerce Debugging. So, there's a lot more included than a well-packed toolbelt. This discusses a ton of approaches and tools to solve problems.

I guarantee that after reading this book, you will become a better developer.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Overview
Part 1: A Great Developer Is Key To Great Solutions
  • Introduction: Five resolutions on what it takes to be a great developer
  • Chapter 1: Never gives up.
  • Chapter 2: Methodically solves problems—with flexibility.
  • Chapter 3: Constantly learning new ideas.
  • Chapter 4: Communicates early and often.
  • Chapter 5: Builds debuggable applications.
Part 2: Effective and Fast Debugging
  • Chapter 6: The Debugging Framework
Part 3: Tools and Strategies for Debugging
  • Chapter 7: Types of Problems to Solve
  • Chapter 8: Debugging Strategies
  • Chapter 9: The Debugger
  • Chapter 10: Debugging Tools

About the course.

Have you ever read a book and thought, "that's a great idea, but how do I actually put this into practice?" That's the problem this course answers. I get that some folks aren't readers. I get that some folks yearn for practical experience.

The entertaining thing about this course is that I've fought through these issues myself! I distill the bugs down into a followable format where we work through the TAD framework to come to a solution ourselves. It's pretty much a kata where you take the first shot and then we identify the solution together. See preview here.


  • The Unchangeable Name that's Quite the Pain
  • Cart that Falls Apart
  • Pricing Calculation Creates Speculation
  • Zebra Stripes on a Slider
  • Checkout is Lights Out

About Joseph

Yep, that's me... Joseph. I've been writing code for over twenty years (gasp?! yes, since I was ten years old... but don't worry, I barely count many of those early years). Around 2010, I got into e-commerce development and have stayed there ever since. Around 2015, I came to the distinct realization that e-commerce developers are a unique breed, facing a diverse array of challenges. This book comes from my learning and findings over the past ten years.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I build sites on (shopware|bigcommerce|shopify), will I benefit? Yes! While most of Joseph's examples do come from his experience on the Magento platform, these techniques apply anywhere. The TAD framework alone, once implemented, will result in a massive productivity boost.
  • Why purchase the hardcover book when I could purchase the ebook? There's this thing called the "Downloads" directory on our computers. Have you noticed how many times a file is downloaded and never touched again? Yes, that's a real thing. The hardcover book "escapes" out of this path to oblivion, and the book resides on your desk. Pretty simple. That said, there are a number of you who like to read on a digital device. Got it, so there's the PDF version.
  • Have any professionals reviewed the book? Of course! That's part of my writing process: getting a list of talented people to read and provide comments. I give credit to them in the front of the book because their feedback was superbly good.
  • How much will it cost? 40USD, shipped free in the world. If you run the numbers, I'm not making much on this. That's ok as I so firmly believe in how transformational this product will be for the readers.
  • How much will taxes/duties cost? We calculated the taxes and duties for a number of countries and put this as a note below the Add to Cart button. Unfortunately, at this point, you are responsible for paying these.
  • Another question? Feel free to drop me a line.

Joseph Maxwell - president / senior developer at Swift Otter

President / senior developer at SwiftOtter - @swiftotter_joe