This article discusses the experiences, impressions and conclusions of the Magento Developer Conference held between October 10th – October 12th in Palma de Mallorca.
MDP 2010 – My viewpoint
It’s been several months after the Conference but I can say that I am still enthusiastic and still keep the positive spirit of the event.
Personally, I value MDP 2010 more as a social than as a professional experience. In fact, one of the reasons why I attended the conference was sheer curiosity – to see the community, all gathered at the same place. I wanted to prove to myself that behind the nicknames and the forum threads there were real people. It was a pleasant surprise to meet the people thanks to whose articles I made my first steps in the field of Magento.
I had the honor to shake hands with:
- Tomislav Bilic and Branko Ajzele of Inchoo Webapp Solutions
- Karen and Joshua of WebShopApps.com
- Mauro and Diego from Webfromat.com
- Paul and Ronald from Redkiwi
- Yvo from spoox.be
- Quentin createhosting.co.nz
- Jay from wdca.ca
- Skander journalduwebmarketing.com
- Anders from crius.dk
- Jeroen from jeroenderks.com
- Erik and David from Classy Llama Studios
- Annemarie from Netresearch
- John Lunn from ( Head Wizard, PayPal X ), Ashley Schroder from aschroder.com
- Yoav Kutner – Magento Co-Founder, CTO
- Phil from rrdonnelley.com
- and others …
I couldn’t help but notice that more information was exchanged at the bar, over a pint of beer, than during the sessions. There is nothing bad about this… the lecturers were having time limits to observe and specific topics to stick to.
As I already mentioned, I value this event more for its socializing contribution, but I was still able to learn new things from the lectures. Perhaps you’ll be surprised, but one of the things I had never heard of before and only suspected to occur was the collisions between different modules. Ashley from New Zealand delivered a lecture on this issue. Another new thing for me was the lecture on optimization, hosting etc. If I have to be honest, this is an issue I had never before considered because I had never had to chance to work directly with the end client and hear their opinion.
I can say that the rest of the lectures were useful too because I learned about some new things that helped me improve my knowledge.
There was, however, one question everybody seemed to be asking at the conference, and it was “Where is the Magento documentation for developers?” I heard different theories and speculations but what I heard from the Magento representatives themselves was that the documentation is not ready yet and that new publications would soon appear on the Magentocommerce.com Wiki site.
Another positive thing was that I also received a couple of job and partnership offers (I think there were a total of three). This usually happened when I said that I work with Magento and I am a freelancer.
This is the first conference of this type that I attend and I think I managed to talk with about 30% of the people there. Sounds good, eh?
Here are a few interesting stories from the bar, the sessions and the breaks:
It was the opening night, people were still getting to know each other and a number of small circle-like groups had formed around the bar. I decided I should join one of them as a listener. David, who is lead developer at Classy Llama, was explaining something about the garbage collector in PHP. Hearing him speak you could immediately tell that he knows Magento in great detail. Then at some point Tomislav Bilic asked him if he was one of the lecturers. David was definitely surprised to hear such a question and then it was our turn to be surprised, learning that he was not.
I am sure no one will forget the situation when one of the lecturers was talking (I won’t mention his name) and a guy from the audience asked a question. The guy started giving detailed explanations… I was frustrated by the lecturer’s response: “Why did you ever say that? You wanted to show off how much you know?” Anyway, I believe the two of them managed to reach a consensus after the lecture was over.
Another intriguing thing I saw during one of the breaks… some guy was explaining to Anton Makarenko that he believed the MVC paradigm had been disrupted in Magento.
The guy asked the following question:
“How do I know what $this means in a particular .phtml file?”
Well, I’d found an answer to this question a few months earlier… Actually, a question such as this one made me ponder about where and how developers study Magento. I shall leave this question open… I look forward to your comments on it.
Well, I see I’ve deviated from the main topic, so in conclusion I can say that:
- I received some precious and free advice. Thank you, Karen!
- Another developer contacted me after the conference and we did a joint project. Thank you, Anders!
- Personally, I feel more confident in my abilities now. This conference was an excellent barometer for me to judge my level and possibilities.
Why and how did I get to MDP 2010?
I suppose you remember that the conference was scheduled for a April 18th, but then there was this issue with hundreds of flights being canceled because of the volcano in Iceland. I was in Palma de Mallorca at that time, on an Erasmus student program. Someone I was working for before I went to study on this program surprised me with the news that there was going to be a Magento Developer’s conference very near my place.
I was financially unprepared at that time. I only had my scholarship money. I made a couple of vain attempts to earn some money to pay the conference attendance fee, but I didn’t have much luck.
So the opening day of the conference arrived (the one that did not take place). I had made an arrangement with the organizers that I would pay the fee at the door, in cash. The money I had in my pocket would cover the fee but if I’d spent that money then, I would have been looking at a month of very little food. Had I been in my own country, I would have spent the money without any second thoughts and taken care of the consequences later, but in this case, I had to take the rational decision and miss the conference.
Interestingly, in the night of the opening of the conference I went to a party a few hundred yards from the hotel where the opening ceremony was supposed to be held. The bus I had taken to go to the party passed right next to the hotel where the conference was scheduled to be. Only my friend Plamen Danov is capable of describing the look on my face then. I drowned my sorrow in a pub, a couple of German girls taking care of my mood.
Well, as you know, the conference was postponed for October. Am I lucky or what?
At the end of July, I went back to Bulgaria and I was very keen on making money to pay me the conference fee. I will save you the details about the economic situation in Bulgaria and will only say that the time between July and October 2010 was quite unfavorable. I decided to take a chance and make some quick money working as a street artist.
I’d learned this craft while in Palma de Mallorca and I am especially grateful to my teachers Tsvetan Mirchev and Mihol. I’ll only add that I worked for about 10 days at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. I was entertaining Bulgarian and foreign tourists and I was able to earn a bit more than I needed.
Good bye! See you at the next conference!