Overview

Mage Titans Italy took place for the second year running in beautiful Milan, Italy on Friday 9th June 2017.

Organised once again by Bitbull, namely Andra Lungu and Alessandro Ronchi, with some further assistance from Rebecca Troth.

I was fortunate enough to be selected to speak (my first ever talk in the Magento community) along with a very strong lineup of speakers that included both seasoned pros and fellow first timers.

The event was held at the Motor K offices in central Milan and over 100 attendees were there on the day from Italy and many other countries from Europe and beyond.

Andra kicked the day off with an intro and explained the key concept of Mage Titans events: Connect, Collaborate, Contribute and as always there was a charitable cause supported, which this time was a really great idea: giving every attendee their own tree to plant via Treedom, which you can track online, here’s mine!

Talks

As per usual at a Mage Titans event there were many great talks aimed at many different areas of development, skill sets and experience – basically there is always something for everyone!  The extra level of technical insight / detail you get compared to other Magento conferences is what sets Mage Titans events apart in my eyes though.

For a full recap of all the talks (and Saturday’s workshops) I suggest you check out Max Pronko’s round up or video review as he beat me to it (and did a great job of course), but for me the key takeaways were from the more technically advanced talks and these were my highlights (in no particular order):

  • Jisse Reitsma’s advice on always checking $context when working with Magento 2’s dependency injection (DI) system and the differences with it between 2.0, 2.1 and further changes yet to come in 2.2!  Further tips on edge cases for using the Object Manager, not using helpers and composition over inheritance were also great.
  • Sander Mangel’s insights on extracting business logic from Magento and even going as far as to show in detail how they build these components, from the structure used, the libraries depended upon and the other services they use such as Maria DB and Elasticsearch – I’ll definitely be checking out the sample repo for some inspiration!
  • Riccardo Tempesta’s (affectionally known in Italy as Richard Storm!) expertise on decoding Magento 2 frontend with React JS showing how they cache REST API calls to Magento to improve performance – which means another repo for me to review!

    Also there has to be shout out Riccardo’s slides, which were also written in React JS… impressive!

  • Maria Kern’s talk on using UI Components on the frontend (JS specific) showing a really nice real world example of how they’d built a world map that displays available products when a continent is clicked.  Plus some recommendations for debugging using Knockout JS context debugger and Mage Specialist’s Chrome Dev Tools module.
  • Arjen Miedema’s thoughts on having to readapt to working with the frontend on Magento 2 was very refreshing, explaining why for them sticking with the ‘vanilla’ blank LESS theme was preferable over other options, such as the Snowdog SASS theme or going ‘headless’.  The comparison of Magento 2 and Magento 1 to boxers Anthony Joshua to Wladimir Klitscho was also very apt.
  • Tony Brown’s tips on monitoring your Varnish cache hit rate in Magento 2 with:
    • Example commands for getting really useful log output
    • The code needed to add Magento routes (e.g. cms_index_index) to the log data
    • How to unset Varnish header data so it isn’t passed to the browser

All the above wrap up nicely into Sherrie Rohde’s advice at the start of the day to make sure you think about how you can apply something you learnt from the event – I feel more like I have a whole todo list!

My talk was focused on how Magento developers can add new content (Page Builder Blocks) to the BlueFoot CMS in Magento 2.  For more info you can see the slides or example module.

I enjoyed all the talks and I think all the speakers did a great job – slides for all talks can be found on the speakers page of the Mage Titans IT website.  If you attended, please don’t forget to leave feedback on Joind.in for all the speakers.

Food, Drink & After Party

With the event being in Italy, I had high expectations for the food to begin with, but I have to say that the chefs chosen by Alessandro and Andra well lived up to expectations with some great food and drink during lunch and the breaks.

The pre-event dinner for speakers was a really nice idea and got everyone (re)acquainted in a great setting with good wine and food.

The after party was also a great chance to catch up and chat to other speakers and attendees about all things Magento (and non-Magento) and probably lasted longer than it should have…

We never did find our fabled Karaoke bar…

…just a roadside bar we called home for the next few hours!

Milan

Milan is a beautiful city and the following day I was fortunate to be able to spend some time taking in the sights, and of course, some pizza!

Final Thoughts

Overall I think the event was a great success and yet another Mage Titans event that lives up to the name.  It was great to hear at the end of the event this years Manchester event being announced for Saturday 11th November as well as another new location lined up, Mage Titans Netherlands, that will take place early next year.

I’d like to thank all the Italian Magento community members I met during my few days as everyone was incredibly friendly, with a special mention to Riccardo and his colleagues from Mage Specialist who made me and others feel very welcoming during the pre event speakers dinner, even if Riccardo had trouble understanding my accent! 😉

I want to close out by thanking Andra, Alessandro and the BitBull team for giving me the opportunity to give my first talk in the Magento community and for organising a great event, I really hope to make it back next year, whether as a speaker or an attendee.