Have you ever wondered who was hiding behind a GitHub username? It’s time to find out! Contributor interviews are a great way of getting to know the people who participate in the PrestaShop project. This month, meet Jean-François Viguier, aka jf-viguier.
Co-founder of an ecommerce and coding agency in Toulouse (France), Jean-François is also the vice-president of Friends of Presta, an association that gathers a community of developers and integrators around the open-source ecommerce solution PrestaShop.
On top of that, he is a very active contributor to the open-source project, with more than 200 contributions.
Dear readers, meet Jean-François!
Hi Jean-François, can you tell us more about yourself?
Of course, yes. I live in Toulouse, France. I have two daughters.
I am the founder and co-manager of the Creabilis agency. We are 5 employees. Our company will celebrate its 20th anniversary in April. We build custom ecommerce websites. Our DNA: SEO, UX, and web performance. We have a 1.6 migration module and a theme, which we use as a base theme to build our websites.
Our clientele is rather “mid market”, as Nicolas Rateau1 likes to say. We work for companies with a turnover of between 1 and 10 million euros, in all sectors. We’ve been using PrestaShop since 2013 and over time it has become our main platform.
I’m also the vice president of the association Friends of Presta but I’m sure you’ll have a question about that later, so I’ll keep you in suspense for now.
When did you get involved in contributing to the PrestaShop project?
It was in 2018. I wanted to fix a bug for one of my clients. At first, it was only a few lines of code, to fix bugs and avoid having to repatch. Then I realized how beneficial the review could be. The QA review, in particular, is very valuable. Our company is too small to have its own QA team. So it’s great to be able to rely on the project’s QA analysts. Sometimes they find crazy bugs that you would never have expected!
That’s also how I discovered the contributor community. Even though I had been using PrestaShop since 2013, I didn’t even know there was a community nor how to take part in it. I used to participate in a few forum discussions, but nothing more. It wasn’t until 2018 that I realized there was a big community. There were events too. I met contributors who are now my friends.
Also, I’m not the only one at Creabilis to contribute. We also encourage our employees to take time for the PrestaShop project. From an ethical standpoint, I think it’s important to give back to the community.
What motivates you to contribute now?
Over time, my contributions have gotten bigger. Franck Lefèvre, one of the maintainers of the project, started the weekly challenges in early 2021. Every week, we had to make a pull request on a specific topic. Several contributors got caught up in the game. It was fun, and we learned new things while playing. Now the rules have changed a bit. We have just started new team challenges: one team will work on the migration of a page from Legacy to Symfony and the other will add new multistore checkboxes in the back office. It’s even more fun to work as a team!
You told us earlier that you were vice president of Friends of Presta. What is the purpose of this association?
Friends of Presta is a non-profit association. For now, it’s mainly French but we’re planning to internationalize. Our goal is to help association members, aka “friends”, enrich their skills. We want to bring more visibility to the PrestaShop project. Our association is based on mutual assistance: we have a Slack, a Facebook page, and a GitHub organization with the famous fop_console project.
During the lockdown, we organized online conferences. Now, we also meet in “real life”. The Friends of Presta Day, in Poitiers, was a real success! Six conferences were organized and about 50 people participated. We plan to have another event like this one in the southwest of France in 2022.
The PrestaShop company supports the association and PrestaShop employees regularly intervene in our roundtables.
How did it start?
The association was created during the first lockdown in France. At that time, only the Slack channel existed.
Because of the Covid-19, many French merchants were in very difficult situations, due to sanitary restrictions and the closure of their physical stores. So, I suggested the FOP community to launch a solidarity initiative. Nearly 50 volunteers mobilized to create free basic ecommerce websites for hundreds of companies to digitize and survive the crisis. It was very successful. We had the support of several regions and the city of Paris. And because the initiative had grown so much, we needed to establish a legal framework. So we created the Friends of Presta association!
Do you have any advice for first-time contributors?
Sometimes, the process can seem a bit complicated. Don’t worry. Focus on the content of your pull request, there will always be someone to help you with the rest. At Friends of Presta, we try to help first-time contributors. We have a dedicated channel for contribution on Slack. By the way, contributing to the FOP console first can be a good idea. The level of requirement is lower there. You’ll then be able to tackle the official PrestaShop repository when you feel ready.
As a friend of PrestaShop, how do you expect to see the project evolve in 2022?
V8 is a more “technical” version. For the next versions, I think we should focus on 2 main issues: the cart rules and the checkout (process, logic, calculation). I am aware that these subjects are a bit like a house of cards. If you change something, everything else could be affected. But I think these are two essential topics for merchants.
I also think that we should simplify the contribution process. I sometimes see motivated people on Twitter who want to contribute. But some of them struggle with the process. We need to simplify things and provide more support.
Finally, I think that the differentiation between the PrestaShop company and the open source project is a great thing. I hope that it will encourage the contribution of bigger agencies. It’s unfortunate that not so many developers contribute.
Would you like to add anything?
Yes! We often hear that the 1.6 is better than the 1.7. This is an urban legend! Many developers were disturbed by this change, but there are really no blocking points in 1.7.
Now that I’ve had my little rant (), I’d like to thank some people.
The first person I’d like to thank is Valentin (NeOMakinG). He and the community have done a lot of work on the new theme. I really hope it will be available in the next version.
I’d also like to thank Franck Lefèvre (Progi1984): he is very kind, helpful and open-minded.
Let’s not forget Antoine Thomas (ttoine). His work on the differentiation between the company and the open source project will benefit everyone. Plus, he’s always open to discussion.
Finally, many thanks to Alexandre Eruimy, the PrestaShop company’s CEO. In recent years, there has been a major communication effort on the part of decision-makers: on TV, in the press, etc. Alexandre spends a lot of energy to make PrestaShop known and to highlight the open source project.
Thank you Jean-François!
If Jean-François’ experience has inspired you and you want to get more involved in the project, don’t hesitate to contribute. And why not become a friend of Presta as well?
Note: This interview took place in French and was translated afterward.
Nicolas Rateau is VP Mid Market at the PrestaShop Company. ↩