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Interview with Philipp Krenn, Author of SilverStripe 2.4 Module Extension,Themes and Widgets Beginner's Guide

Phillip is the author of our recently published SilverStripe 2.4 Module Extension, Themes, and Widgets: Beginner's Guide which helps you create smashing SilverStripe applications by extending modules, creating themes, and adding widgets.

Philipp lives and works in Vienna and is finishing his CS master as a project assistant. When not at university, he's either working as a freelance SilverStripe developer or giving training courses on various IT topics.

In his free time Philipp tinkers with SilverStripe or partakes in sports.

Do visit his personal website:
You can also follow him on Twitter @xeraa

Packt: Your book is published now. How does it feel to be a published author?

Philipp: It's been a great experience, although it was a bit of a long and stony road. However, that's what makes the end result even better for me and I hope my readers agree.

Packt: What benefits did writing a book bring to your specialist area?

Philipp: While SilverStripe is a great system, far too few people actually know it and quite a lot are discouraged by the lack of documentation. So I hope I could help a little with that.

On a personal level, it's been really helpful to go over details you take for granted and also to structure your own knowledge. Actually, I've learnt quite a lot myself while writing the book. And I've already forgotten some pieces of information again, but I was really happy when I saw how easily it could be found in the book.

Packt: Our authors usually have full-time jobs whilst writing for us. Was this the case for you and how did you approach managing your time?

Philipp: I'm doing various things at the same time: Studying, working as a research assistant, as well as doing freelance SilverStripe projects and delivering training sessions. While this keeps my schedule very flexible, it causes some spikes when three things have be done at the same time. So you should start early (as everybody will tell you), but I never managed to do that. However, I function pretty well under pressure (or probably better than under normal conditions) and did some night shifts to finish off my tasks. While this is probably a recipe for disaster for many others, it's worked pretty well for me.

Packt: Whilst writing your book, did you find that it overshadowed personal life in any way? How did you deal with this?

Philipp: To be honest, my girlfriend didn't the fact that I was writing a book as I put in some night shifts because of it (see point above). However, as writing a book has a pretty limited time-frame, we could live with it quite well. Sometimes you need to make small sacrifices to reach a goal.

Packt: Do you have any advice for other authors who may be interested in writing for Packt, but are still unsure?

Philipp: Assuming you have the required knowledge; you should love your topic. You must be genuinely interested in helping others to learn about it. Besides that you only need time to let your passion unfold. If you have these three key ingredients you're good to go!

Packt: Do you have any tips for other authors, or tricks that you learnt whilst writing, that you'd like to share?

Philipp: If you're working with code, focus on that before starting to write. Once you have a prototype, you only need to fill the gaps - at least for me everything seemed to fall into place from that point on. And don't try to make it perfect the first time, simply keep going with the overall picture.

Finally, pick good reviewers - they might hurt your feelings, but they will really help you make the most of your topic.

Packt: How did you find the overall experience of writing your book for Packt?

Philipp: It was a real pleasure - everybody involved supported me whole-heartedly. The only improvement I can think about would be using some kind of version control system instead of emails as this made the finishing process a little chaotic.

Packt: During the writing process, did you come across any issues/ difficulties that affected your writing and how did you overcome these?

Philipp: Lack of time! On the one hand you want to make your book perfect, on the other hand the time to get there is pretty limited. My solution was to cancel a vacation and really use the time I felt necessary to achieve good results. And in the end, I think it has paid off.

Packt: Was there anything interesting that happened during the writing of the book?

Philipp: I'd love to have a gripping story including a bunch of Velociraptors, but I'm afraid nothing spectacular like this happened - only a lot of hard work.

Packt: How did Packt’s Acquisition Editors help you - what kind of things did they help you with and how did they support you throughout the writing process?

Philipp: While everyone involved did a great job, for me the most important person was my project coordinator Michelle. She really helped my stick to my time plan (or at least close to it), by constantly reminding me when to finish which chapter. Thanks!

Packt: What projects, if any, are you working on at the moment?

Philipp: Right now I need to write my thesis. Working on your own is just so much harder than with Packt's great team.

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