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I strongly recommend you to read this article and all related articles in our Knowledge Base. They will give you a brief understanding of Magento structure, a module anatomy, Magento MVC concept, Magento way to deal with models and the data source layer, etc.
Believe me, reading and trying to create some dummy modules would help you a lot.
As a bonus, remember general recommendations regarding customization:
- NEVER modify the core code of Magento.
- Encapsulate all your customizations into custom modules.
- Try to get adwantage of Magento architecture, use events a much as possible, then you may try to rewrite models/blocks/helpers, and only then, as a very latest resort, you may suggest to rewrite controllers.
- Care where you put your logic. Remember that we don’t write pure SQL in Magento except in resource models and data collections. Remember, controllers are to process request, perform validation, loading and rendering the content and sending response to the browser, and models are the place where we keep all our business logic.
- Get familiar with blocks and layout, you won’t be able to deal with Magento efficiently unless you know and understand layout, blocks and their templates.
- Follow the common sense, keep your code style as close as possible to Magento style, respect naming conventions.