Insights from Mage Titans Manchester 2015

We arrived at the Comedy Store Manchester for Mage Titans 2015 to be met with an excited group of Magento community enthusiasts and developers. First impression – the organisers really know how to pick a venue. The Comedy Store has a laid back, inviting atmosphere which is perfect for a weekend event, and also a nice fit for the Magento community.

I’ve summarised the three main take away technical themes for the event which I think should prove important over the next year.

Software Architecture and Composable Magento

Package Management is more important than ever due to the explosion of open source offerings. In today’s software development ecosystem, we live in a world of specialisation. It’s possible to pull in much of the application via open source components rather than writing everything in house. With this abundance of open source packages comes a need to easily install and update them. Ideally such a system should also ensure that the various packages work cleanly together without causing conflicts and debugging headaches. Node has NPM, .NET has Nuget, Ruby has Ruby Gems, and now we are moving towards composable Magento. We also need to consider how to structure our own code so that we can achieve the goal of composability. Alistair Stead gave an eye opening talk on The How and Why of Composable Magento, providing insights into how we can achieve DRY code in Magento 1x, and how this will change with Magento 2.

Vinai Kopp’s talk on architecture in the small went into more detail on how to structure our Magento sites keeping in mind values such as Encapsulation, and where and why Immutable Variables can be useful. He promoted simplicity over volume of code which I think we can all agree on.

Developing and Maintaining Scalable Magento Sites

I’m sure I’m not alone in having the experience of implementing, what was initially a simple website, only to discover six months later that the site was experiencing more load than it was initially designed to handle. This inevitably leads to a series of challenging optimisation sessions as the team working out how to scale the site and avoid degrading the user experience. The lightning talks from Paul Partington on Cache Configuration and Alessandro Ronchi on Magento Best Practices provide some fantastic tips on how to do this without pulling your hair out.

Magento 2, when, what and why?

With Magento 2 slated for release in Q4 2015 it’s time to start answering the questions of how we can best take advantage of it to improve code quality and end user experience. The main take-aways for me on this front were related to the vast improvement in the package management system and new Magento Connect Store.

Magento 2 introduces a new certification system whereby applications will be run through an automated certification/ verification process on submission to the Connect Store. This will improve the general code quality of applications in the store going forward, and also minimise the amount of plagiarisation which is unfortunately an issue with Magento 1.

The change to a Composer based package management system makes it far easier to work with an array of open source projects, which should speed up and simplify the Magento 2 application development experience.

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In Closing

Thanks to the #MageTitans team for putting on another great community event with top speakers and great content. A complete recap of the talks can be found on the Mage Titans blog.