Mage Titans MCR 2016 was the third Mage Titans conference of 2016, in its birthtown Manchester, and for me the first one. I had the honor to speak there, amongst the titans, i.e. top notch Magento developers, and it was a huge experience. Having watched most videos of the previous events, I knew that great content was to be expected. I’d say this is probably the best developer centric Magento conference, going head to head with Developers Paradise but that is a special category on its own!

And it is not just about the quality of the talks. I loved the venue in the Comedy Store, which provided a classic but also cozy atmosphere. The pictures cannot really transport it, you have to be there! Also it was really well organized and there are many little details where others such as Meet Magento could use as an inspiration:

Preparation

  • Delegates guide per email a month in advance, with tips like for travel, hotels, eating, the event details and a code of conduct
  • Speakers guide with presentation guidelines and information about technical setup
  • A nice cover image prepared for each speaker instead of something like a Powerpoint template

Day's program

  • The speakers had the chance to test their setup in advance, so that there was only little interruption (at least in theory, there are always some technical problems - right, Vinai?)
  • Having Ben Marks moderating the sessions was a really nice addition
  • The lightning talk format in the afternoon is a great chance for new speakers or to try out new talks in a 15 minute slot

Food and drinks

  • Bottled water in the conference bags
  • Delicious finger food at the after party, with separate tables for vegetarian and vegan food (Bonus: I heard the leftovers were given to the homeless in the city)

Logistics

  • Shuttle buses from the venue to the party location

What I missed:

  • Some quiet corners at the party location to sit down and talk. The hallway track at the conference was not enough for that, also because nobody wanted to skip any of the talks in the main track.

The Workshop

I also attended the evening workshop before the event, my colleague Andreas already summed it up well. To give you an impression of how my brain was rotating, here are my notes:

The talks

I won't go into detail about the contents, but I can say that I enjoyed every single talk and my head was filled after the day. If you were not there, I recommend to subscribe to the MageTitans YouTube channel where the videos should be published soon! It's also good to see that Magento continues to send their decision makers to these events, like the new VP of technology, Jason Woosley, as well as Magento 2 architects like Vitaliy Korotun, connecting them with the community to receive unfiltered feedback (again, see our blog post about the workshop!) Here is the full list with comments from attendees: Mage Titans MCR joind.in. There are just two special talks that I have to highlight because they made us deserve the Comedy Store stage:
  • "Migrating Data from Magento 1 to Magento 2" by Tadhg Bowe. The first half of it was actually about Dutch toilets and a hilarious comedy routine. And then he still managed to drop useful technical knowledge in short time.
  • "Magento is for Life, not just for Christmas" by Rebecca Troth. If you know her YouTube channel, you know how passionate Rebecca is about Magento and the light playful style. What can I say, the presentation was just like that. It was funny and full of cute GIFs of dogs, but still delivered a message through this analogy.
And this from two first-time conference speakers! Apropos:

Get out there, share your knowledge!

It's great to see new faces on stage (not that I don't like the old ones, but some change is good). So this is an appeal and encouragement for new speakers: I am sure there is something you know well or have some experience with, a topic that you are comfortable with and have an opinion about. This is your first talk. There are many people out there who don't know what you know, even though your knowledge seems so obvious to you. It caught some people I talked to by surprise but I just started speaking on conferences seriously last year and public speaking does not come naturally to me. Being nervous about it is normal, but now I'm excited to go on stage again. What helps a lot: gain practice at usergroups, meetups, barcamps, unconferences (come to Cologne next March!); blog about your topic to explore it and receive first feedback. Did I catch your interest? Then I would like to share some interesting articles with you: Ten Steps to Better Public Speaking | How to prepare and write a tech conference talk | Cal Evans' blog

Review

Was this conference helpful to you? Yes I can recommend Mage Titans for any Magento developer and this definitely won't be my last one! Great content, but also great organization and a very special atmosphere. Next year there is going to be another Mage Titans in Italy and a new one in Mexico. I guess we'll also see a second edition of Mage Titans USA and a fourth in the UK. So if you have the chance to go to any of these, do it!

Fabian Schmengler

Author: Fabian Schmengler

Fabian Schmengler is Magento developer and trainer at integer_net. His focus lies in backend development, conceptual design and test automation.

Fabian was repeatedly selected as a Magento Master in 2017 and 2018 based on his engagements, active participation on StackExchange and contributions to the Magento 2 core.

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