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Downloading a Magento Connect Extension manually before installing it

I always install my Magento extensions manually so for me downloading and looking over an extension before copying it into my SVN repo is important. I don’t actually recommend using Magento Connect to install things on production stores (no one does that, right?) – it’s a bit like playing Russian roulette really. You might be able to install 1 or 2 extensions with Magento Connect, but if you install 6, you’ll definitely blow your brains out hose your Magento store.

Here’s a quick few steps to take so you can do that yourself. I’ll assume you have a local development version of Magento running on your laptop or desktop.

1) Jump into the root of your development store:

cd ~/Documents/web/magento/

2) Download the extension with pear:

./pear download magento-community/Netzarbeiter_CustomerActivation

3) For simplicity, I move the file over to my downloads directory to extract and inspect it:

mv ~/Documents/web/magento/ ~/Downloads/

Then you can unarchive the extension, take a look at the files, scrutinize to your hearts content before you decide it’s a good extension and install it into your SVN repo manually. Then when you update your staging site you can check everything works, before releasing to production. Of course in this particular case I’ll install the extension blindly, Vinai codes elegant extensions that are certain to work!

Some things I look for:

  • Schema scripts in the sql directory that make drastic schema changes
  • Ugly phone-home calls (you know who you are!)
  • Comments like “TODO: remove this before releasing”
  • Comments like “TODO: implement this”
  • Check what models the extension is overriding, it’s one way to avoid extension clashes

Any I missed let me know? And yes I am fully aware that most of my extensions would fail my own criteria 😛