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 Lorenz Meyer, aka @lmeyer1.

Lorenz answered my questions from Romanel-sur-Lausanne, Switzerland. With 46 contributions, he ranks 119th in the top contributor list. In addition to participating in his personal enrichment, his contribution to the open source project is also encouraged and supported by his employer. Why is this? What are the benefits? In this article, Lorenz explains everything and shares his experience.

Dear readers, meet Lorenz!

Hi, Lorenz! First, can you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Lorenz Meyer. I live in Switzerland. I’m married and a young grandfather of five cute boys and girls. I have been working in IT for twenty years at Geneva Bible Society, a publisher of Christian books and Bibles. We have about a dozen bookstores in France and Switzerland and we are offering IT support for another twenty independent bookstores. As a Christian, I’m glad that my job allows me to contribute to sharing the message of the Christian faith in today’s society. With only 2 colleagues in the IT department, it is an interesting and challenging job in a pleasant and stimulating environment.

When and why did you get involved in contributing to the PrestaShop project?

My contribution to the project is not only a personal decision, it’s also supported by my employer.

In recent years, the importance of ecommerce has increased considerably. Twenty years ago, our website presented our top publications, with a simple contact form for orders. Today, our PrestaShop-based ecommerce platform consists of 25 online stores. They are available in French and German languages and they include B2B services for bookstores and local online stores for our partners.

We have been using PrestaShop for 6 years now. Since then, we have added many custom features, such as a bi-directional synchronization with two ERP systems, book-related product properties, such as authors and publishers, an advanced image management system, and caching mechanisms.

But because of all these customizations, upgrading PrestaShop quickly became impossible and we were stuck with the version. So, for about a year and a half, we have been preparing the upgrade to the current version of PrestaShop. We wanted to keep our custom features while being able to upgrade to any minor version of PrestaShop.

To achieve this goal, we based our work on 3 principles:

  • Any modification must be based on a fork of the official repository.
  • If possible, features should be added using modules and the core should only be touched as a last resort.
  • Any feature or improvement that is useful to the community will be shared thanks to a pull request.

What motivates you?

I like to study. Learning new things by yourself is always motivating. Contributing to the open source project allows me to get new ideas and discover techniques and solutions.

Gratitude comes with time: with each issue approved, each conversation on Slack, and each pull request merged, you become part of a huge team that you didn’t know existed.

As stated before, my employer is also involved. For them the motivation is twofold. Firstly, with the help of the community, I try to find the most efficient and robust solution. If it’s approved, the improvement is integrated into future versions, which ensures continuity. Secondly, sharing and helping the community is a way of living by our values. Why keep something to ourselves that could be useful to others?

Do you have any advice for new PrestaShop contributors?

Get ready for long and laborious work. Make sure you are really motivated.

If you report a bug on the PrestaShop project, maintainers will take it seriously and will reproduce it. Explaining the problem in detail will take some effort. But the more specific you are, the more effective it will be!

If you submit a pull request, be prepared for four or five peers to scrutinize it and find tons of problems you would never have expected. It can feel exasperating but it will be all the more rewarding when you are done.

Sometimes, I lose patience and I want to give up. But I take a break to calm down and I come back later even more motivated.

What’s the number one thing you’ve learned by contributing to open source projects?

It’s a difficult question. There are so many things I’ve learned.

If I had to pick only one, I think it would be that behind every detail, every line of code, there is a wealth of unexpected connections, opinions, and considerations. This opens up many opportunities to learn about the views of other contributors and be inspired by new ideas.

Is there anything you want to add?

A major difficulty for me is knowing what to share with the community and what to keep to myself. Contributing can be time-consuming, but we need to balance that extra time and effort with the gain in quality.

I really enjoy contributing to the PrestaShop project. I will continue as long as it remains the best ecommerce solution for us and for our partner bookstores.

Thank you for inviting me to this interview. It was an honor and a great pleasure.

Thank you, Lorenz!

If Lorenz’s experience has inspired you and you want to get more involved in the project, don’t hesitate to contribute. And remember Lorenz’s advice, get ready for an intense but rewarding adventure!