My first experience with Microsoft Commerce Server was in May 2007 when I started working at Vertica. At that point I had absolutely no clue of what Commerce Server could leverage as a standard eCommerce platform. The first few weeks basically went by doing training based on some internal training material and the documentation on MSDN for Commerce Server. Soon after that I became team member on a Commerce Server project for one of our customers. Since then my work has been more or less exclusively to this project which have been a incredible educational experience for me.
Moving on to my point it had been planned for some months that we should have Max Akbar, former Program Manager for the Microsoft Commerce Server Team, come to our company location in Aarhus and provide us some technical training on Commerce Server. At that time I had only read some of Max' posts about Commerce Server but honestly I did not knew much about who he was or what he had do with the Commerce Server product. But as I got to learn more about Commerce Server and began digging more and more into the technical aspects of the product, in purpose of extending and modifying it to our customer needs, Max' name and posts appeared more frequently on the web-sites I came along. Also he had posted some very useful articles on his blog that really helped me a lot doing the development. So it was very great news that he would come to our company, and I was really looking forward to meet him and none the less learn from him.
So this week we had Max coming all the way from California, USA to Aarhus, Denmark to spend a couple of days with us giving in-house training on the Commerce Server 2007 product. Although Max suffered a bit jetlag from his flight there were no way to tell it because he really pulled off some very intensive training and the level of expertise was just stunning! The experience and in-depth knowledge with the Commerce Server product was absolutely remarkable. I really enjoyed attending the course with Max and it fully lived up to my expectations - and then some.
This blog post doesn't cover all the topics that we went through the training with Max, but hopefully it gives a resume of what went on. The first day we got around talking about the installation, architecture and security stuff of Commerce Server as well as giving us some insight on some of the work he had been doing at Microsoft and some of the large scale enterprise solutions he have been a part of. It was very exciting to hear about all that. The second day we learned a lot about the CSS - Commerce Server Staging on how to easily deploy Commerce Server business data and content between different environments. It was very cool to learn about because the CSS part of Commerce Server is one thing that I have none on-hands experience with nor much knowledge about. We also got through the Catalog-, Profiles- and Marketing systems which gave me some very good insight on how this is implemented in the product and how to best interact with the systems. After the second day of training most of us from Vertica went out with Max to grap a beer on Kafé Komma and later we all went to eat on a really good restaurant. The third and last day of the training was primarily focused on integration, extending the Orders system and building custom pipelines.
For me it was really cool to show Max some of the stuff that I have been working on. Especially on how I have extended the Payment- and Shipping Methods using the standard Profile System and how I integrated this into the Customer and Orders Manager application with pretty much no modification to the application at all. I'm proud to say that Max found the stuff I did very cool. I might write a post about it some day.
Also pretty cool was that Max gave us some of the custom tools that he has developed for his various Commerce Server solutions and I'm absolutely sure that they will come in pretty handy in our solutions as well. Max is a really nice guy and besides all the training he did we also had a lot of fun during the training days. I'm really glad to met Max and hopefully I'll come across him again some day.
I'm sorry for any bad English, bad grammar or misspelling. The clock is getting pretty late and I'm not even done packing all my stuff yet. The thing is that we are all leaving very early in the morning (4.15 AM to be exact) as we are going with the train from Aarhus to the Copenhagen Airport from where we are flying to Edinburgh. Vertica has arranged a company trip throughout the weekend to Scotland which I'm really looking forward to.