In September 2012, Simon & Ben attended Magento Developers Paradise. They flew out a few thousand miles for a bit of sun, sea, code and an epic amount of San Miguel.
Ibiza welcomed us with open arms at 3am the day before the conference and we instantly found ourselves homeless. Apparently the hotel wasn’t booked for us, and no-one knew of any impending conference about to take place the next day.
Not phased in the slightest we took our suitcases to the nearest set of bars and decided to wait patiently alongside a series of empty beer glasses. If Jamie asks, we have no idea how they got that way and none of this relates to the expense form.
The following morning greeted us with a beautiful sunrise on the beach. Eventually we also found a friendly face at our hotel who was happy to book us in and offered us weary travellers a plate of bacon to kick start the day.
Following a siesta and a spruce up, we were raring to go. With a few hours until registration, we went for a walk/paddle up the beach towards Playa D’En Bossa.
The sound of music being played out onto the beach from recessed bars filled the air and the warm sea lapped at our feet. Overall, this place was beautiful.
Registration was the usual affair of geeky awkwardness. The lack of alcohol limited interactions to begin with but that was soon fixed with creative use of the all-inclusive card. San Miguel’s all round!
The evening continued into the small hours where we sat and laughed with various people from across the globe – all the while being mindful that the event was ‘very serious business’. There were over 120 developers from more than 22 countries attending this year so finding someone to chat to was not a problem.
Fast forward a few hours to the first day of the conference.
Magento secrets and a catamaran
Day one consisted of five talks by a variety of Magento legends and a tour by catamaran. With caffeine flowing through our veins we settled in and prepared to soak up the knowledge.
The presentations began with two lectures that were aimed at Magento 2 which was awesome for us as this was the first time we’d heard anything official on the subject. A talk introducing x.com’s fabric was also interesting to get a first-hand look at.
We also were privy to a presentation from Liip – a Swiss development agency, on how they built a rather complex winter holiday site. They explained both how they approached the project and handled the client which, for us at JH, was valuable in comparing our own work practices to other agencies. The day finished off with our favourite talk of the entire conference – 101 Magento Secrets, which actually turned out to be 37. Much chuckles all round.
After absorbing the knowledge from the talks, we were rather excited to be offered the chance to board a catamaran and set sail for a jolly in the Med. This lived up to all expectations and more.
The trip involved of a combination of bobbing around on the Mediterranean and taking the opportunity to have a ride on the back of Jet Ski – myself and Ben won’t be changing careers to sailors any time soon.
Dinner was kindly provided to help us soak up the free alcohol that had been supplied on board. MeetMagento, you are amazing hosts.
As the sun set, the boat set sail back to port at a very leisurely pace. Incredibly relaxing and a great way to have some in depth chats with other conference guests we had missed the chance to talk to the night before.
Since we didn’t get back until gone 9pm there was talk of having an early night. However, a quick trip to the bar soon ruined that idea. As we were out for the evening, we figured it would be a good opportunity to introduce Alex and Sam, who we had met on the Catamaran, to a local bar we’d been frequenting. Conversation was great and to change things up a bit Ben and Sam took on the might of Tetris ending the evening victorious, winning a Smurf!
Talks, talks and a bit more sunshine
The second day of the conference was an interesting affair with talks ranging from meaty topics on full page caching to presentations on hosting. The stand out technical talk of the day was Dynamic and static code analysis given by Vitaly Korotun of the Magento Expert Consulting Group. The talk was a little scrappy but Vitaly and colleagues really knew the topic inside out, delivering us a wealth of information.
A close second was ‘High Quality Magento Extensions’ as Netresearch are world renowned extension developers and have massive experience in this area. Even though the information was educational and well-presented, I was a little disappointed as most of the talk felt like it was lifted out of a generic Agile for Fun and Profit or TDD for Winners book.
The treat for the afternoon was a hackathon in a basement in Ibiza. Although we weren’t enamoured with this, we went to check it out anyway.
It appeared the main push was around Localisation which of itself is a good, useful topic but, at the same time, incredibly dry.
We instead opted for more networking by the pool while also sampling what rum the bar had to offer. This actually turned out be a good plan as the chance arose to have a chat with a Danish chap from Vubla. They are currently doing interesting things in search functionality for Magento.
Something we got rather used to is the never ending things to do while out in Ibiza. Wednesday night was no exception with the conference organisers laying on a trip to a cocktail bar in Ibiza town. As these conferences were such hard, hard work, this was a great way for myself and Ben to unwind and, once again, network the JH name across the land.
So as we hurtle towards out departure flight from Ibiza, we now enter the third and final day of Magento Developers Paradise. Today there are only three talks. Each had its own merits and there were some take aways from each. There wasn’t an earth shattering final day but it was a good wind down.
Solving issues together
Our final words on the conference are it is rather special and exceptional. The location is massive selling factor. The beaches of Ibiza are breath-taking, the locals are incredibly friendly and the hotel was terrific.
The conference itself did have a feel of organised chaos which was charming more than annoying.
We made some great contacts across the entire Magento world and are very much looking forward to seeing various people at other conferences throughout the year.
Something that is often not talked about that much when discussing conferences is just how much knowledge and experiences are shared. This really stood out for us. Finding common issues we’ve faced and how individual companies solved them, trading tips and tricks and also finding the commonalities in how different agencies run.
Our only minor gripe regarding Magento Developers Paradise was the way the talks were presented. For the most part they had great content but presentation slightly let down what could have been truly great talks. Maybe that is something that could be worked on for next year.
To sum we thought Magento Developers Paradise was a great conference with great people in a great location!
Magento Developers Paradise, we salute you!