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February 25, 2016

Mage Titans Italia – an overview

So, the videos are now live (!!!) to watch and so I wanted to jot down an overview of the day and share my Mage Titans Italia highlights with you. There was so much that happened so I will try my best to keep it brief, you can scroll down and catch up on the bits that take your fancy!

Let’s start as we mean to go on

The day opened up with Alessandro Ronchi; Magento Italia Google+ group moderator, author and active Magento community member; who introduced Mage Titans Italia. Alessandro told the story of how he was inspired to bring the developer-focused Mage Titans conference to Milan to share with his community and the famous three C’s were uttered: Connect, Collaborate, Communicate.

Alessandro also gave thanks to our fabulous event supporters AKA sponsors – no matter how many times this gets said, it doesn’t lose meaning – NONE of this could happen without their support! So a massive thank you goes out to all of the sponsors but especially Nexcess (Headline), DriveK (Gold) and Mage Specialist (Gold) who gave the team the ability to have a well-organised and well-furnished conference in some really cool offices.

Jon Woodall, our very own MD, then stepped up to add a few more words about our community (it’s all about you guys!) and announce the chosen event charity. As you may know, the event is not-for-profit, all funds go towards the event and anything extra goes into the organiser’s personally chosen charity, charity: water. At present we have fundraised £2,460, and are continuing to add to this – if you would like to help with our pledge, you can donate here.


And next …

How to get involved in the Magento community

First up on stage presenting was Sherrie Rohde, who needs no introduction as Magento’s much loved Community Manager. Sherrie opened up with a talk that could go on forever; a run through of the biggest names who make a difference, all the supporting Magento community events & groups that go on in the Magento-sphere, AND how much Magento appreciate all of this input. Despite all of my experience whilst running Mage Titans there were still some names that were new to me, the community is so vast.

“In 2015, the Magento Community gave over 500 talks, wrote three books, organized conferences and meetups in over 24 countries and wrote countless blog posts helping each other learn more about Magento and how to use it.”

There was then a supportive applause, plenty of nods (and some blushing) from the audience – well done community, keep on at it!


@SherrieRohde / Slides / Video



Getting your hands dirty testing Magento 2

Next up was Vinai Kopp, one of Magento’s earliest adopters, consultant and trainer – whose talks never fail to leave a trail of awe. Vinai runs through Buzzword Bingo (covering unit testing, integration testing, TDD and more) and seems to simplify everything into a few words and example code. Take a look at his slides to be educated on how to best utilise the Magento 2 framework for testing. Because of the ability to make more targeted changes to code in Magento 2 conflicts are inherently less likely, although one thing to be wary of is the issues that duplicated code can cause, the copy & paste lifestyle that many live by. He also mentions good ol’ Uncle Bob (Clean Coder) as a good training guide for… you guessed it, clean code.

Have you heard of a kata? No? Here is some reading from Vinai’s own blog. And you can catch the application of Magento 2 workflows here with Mage2Katas as announced at Mage Titans Italia!



@VinaiKopp / Slides / Video



Demystifying plugins

You might remember Daniel Sloof from other Magento events including Mage Titans 2014, Meet Magento NY 2014, Meet Magento Poland 2014, Mage Titans 2015 and now… Mage Titans Italia! Obsessed with performance and an active contributor to open-source projects, his talks have impressed the Magento crowds with optimisations and alternative approaches.

Daniel’s talk took you from an introductory level with plugins to a full on deep dive. Explaining how to create unintrusive extensions of core functionality, and how plugins are usually the nicest solution! He also leaves you with some useful links, found at the end of the slides.



@daniel_sloof / Slides / Video



Extending Magento layered navigation

Nadia Sala was next on stage, for what was her first ever live presentation. Embracing the challenge, Nadia spoke in English (her first language is Italian) to the delight of the international audience (thanks Nadia!). As a long time PHP developer, specialising in eCommerce builds, Nadia offered a very technical talk supplying what was described as ‘An elegant solution to a very practical issue’ by fellow speaker Sander Mangel.

Category filtering and attribute filtering can both be used to search catalogues, but when used in unison, they can be hard work to keep in sync, and they can duplicate data – oh no! So, Nadia has detailed a method which turns sad faces into happy ones.



@nadiasala / Slides / Video



Scaling an eCommerce environment

Co-organiser of Mage Stack Day, organiser of MUG Rotterdam, technical lead for FitForMe and Magento fan, Sander Mangel was next to present. Sander has expanded and scaled one Magento installation to present many storefronts, multiple warehouses and distribution channels, whilst integrating a growing number of requirements. In this presentation he suggests making Magento work at what it is good at, and how to employ microservices to assist with growth and infrastructure. As micro services are not looked upon very favourably it seems in the Magento community, the response to his talk was interesting. Although he presented a situation where they are completely applicable, explained how to implement them and the benefits that they experience. Case in point.


@sandermangel / Slides / Video



Embracing change

Sonja Riesterer has been through a lot of changes and seems to be constantly challenging herself, almost to the extremes! Recently leaving her home town, old career, even her old hobbies to embrace the new and find herself in the Magento community amongst a host of supportive strangers.

Much as the IT world changes versions, frameworks, software – Sonja; marketing manager, Magento trainer, and Magento (Mage Unconference and Magento roundtable in Aachen) event organiser; discusses how change is natural. Whether we realise it or not, change can be profound and life changing. From a self-confessed shy person, this was a wonderful talk on how to open yourself up to possibilities.


@sonjarierr / Slides / Video



Magento 2 and avoiding the rabbit hole

Tony Brown, our Technical Director at Space 48, has been experimenting with Magento 2 during its creation and since the launch. In his talk he runs through some of the bigger changes, which architecturally speaking have been put in place to make it easier to develop on, and to keep up to date with best practices and modern technologies.

Have you ever kept track of your WTF per minute rate whilst developing in Magento? Tony suggests that there is a challenging learning curve but one that is worth the investment.

Whilst on a journey of discovery, Tony had found a need to do a fair bit of debugging, and has adopted a new workflow method that has helped him to stay on track and avoid wasting time, the Pomodoro technique – which just so happens to be an Italian word – how serendipitous!? He walked through a debugging example with the full page cache (including Varnish) and illustrated how using the Pomodoro technique led to a faster conclusion.


@tonegolf71 / Slides / Video



Magento performance: know your database

Someone who knows a little about the severe effect of an unoptimised database on a Magento store, is Ivan Chepurnyi. As one of Magento’s original core developers, he has developed an enormous amount of modules and customisations and is known to have delved into many dark Magento corners that others do not dare. He architect’s complex solutions as his speciality, and in this talk he offered to teach everyone something new about MySQL.

With an awareness of memory usage, Ivan presents example queries that when executed can handle large data sets with little impact and with predictable durations. Want to know more? He runs through four main tricks of his trade, the bad alternatives and the reasoning behind them.


@IvanChepurnyi / Slides / Video



Secure input and output handling

‘How not to suck at data validation and output encoding’; a passionate presentation by security specialist Anna Völkl. Not only is she a long-time Magento developer but she is also an information security specialist, something that cannot be overlooked in eCommerce!


The most shocking, but unfortunately believable, statistic that Anna shares is the rate of technological advancement of hardware, software and security. With such little advancement it is an even further shock that people still can’t get it right! Why do people leave security until the last minute? Don’t forget to check out Magento’s own dev docs to protect against XSS attacks, and this talk containing some Magento 2 specific validators and a security checklist!


@rescueAnn / Slides / Video



Magento worst practice

Long time Magento developer, consultant and co-founder of his own Magento agency, Andreas von Studnitz knows a thing or two about projects; in this talk he shares some of the abysmal things that he has found over the years.

You might think that you have ‘problems’ with things like code quality and performance, but are they really the problems that you should be looking at or is there something worse lurking? Andreas points out some ‘real problems’ and how to avoid them.


@avstudnitz / Slides / Video



Magento 2 as a CMS

So, Marius Strajeru decided to experiment. We all know him as one of Magento Stack Exchanges biggest contributors and devoted moderator. Marius always seems to be playing with the possibilities of Magento, especially as he has his module creator freeing up time. 😉

For this talk he decided to see how Magento 2 would act as a CMS, inspired by its loose coupling between modules. Using a few workarounds, and hitting some unavoidable bumps in the road; you can check out his slides and watch the video to see where it took him!


@MariusStrajeru / Slides / Video



F***ing up projects – a manual

I think the most entertaining talk of the day was presented by Magento enthusiast and big time community member Fabian Blechschmidt. His talk was a well welcomed closing presentation as everyone was itching for a beer, and the laughter staved off the thirst!

A presentation full of hilarious ironic sarcasm, that makes me wonder when Fabian will be launching his stand up career. The funniest thing is – this s**t actually happens!



@Fabian_ikono / Slides / Video


Greetings and thanks

And finally the day was closed by the man who opened it; Alessandro, who rounded the day’s happenings up nicely.

He gave a thank you to the generous sponsors and organisers, and of course a thank you to the team of international speakers who had given such captivating presentations throughout the day. He then thanked the caterers, who supplied us with fantastic food and drink; I know that I myself was suitably pumped with Italian caffeine and ready to move on to the after party in a very cool real ale pub And then off we went, with a mind full of Magento and a thirst for community driven conversation.

For more information on the Mage Titans Italia conference please visit, visit the YouTube playlist which has all speaker information alongside the videos, or see the Facebook page for all the photos of the day!

Thank you Italia!