Top 3 Reasons to Avoid Magento's getFirstItem()

Magento utilizes a lot of helper functions as well as the Zend Framework and ORM. While this makes things easier to develop, there are areas where this actually makes getting things done more difficult. The very first area that comes to mind is when you are trying to only retrieve a single record from the database. If you were to search Google for the proper way to do this, you would do the following, assuming $collection is your collection object.

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Avoid SQL Deadlocks -- Break Up Large Updates

Deadlocks in SQL occur when one query locks certain rows, frequently for updates, and a second query tries to update those same rows. The second query will then create an error as those rows are unable to be updated since they are in the middle of an update from another query. One of the surefire ways to create a slow running update query like the first query above is to hava a single update statement that will update a large number of rows at once.

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