Mage Unconference 2018 Reflections

Hello my Magento community friends!
 
Let me tell you this for nothing. It’s not often I put pen to paper to talk about something. But after attending Mage Unconference in Cologne last weekend (Oct 26–28 2018) I just had to write about it.
 
Why?
 
Okay, I’m not going to explain how the conference works. I just want to focus on what worked really well for me.
 
*** The people: Across Europe we have an amazing network of Magento professionals. Germany is up there with the best. I met so many new faces at this conference. As a foreign visitor I was made to feel very welcomed. It was a real pleasure to be there.
 
*** The language barrier: There was none. From the word go it was 100% in English. I was so impressed with the quality of English from everybody. Fair play.
 
*** The format: There are four tracks to choose from. All proposals are posted on the wall first. Everybody gets two votes. The top 16 win. It’s a brilliant concept. It doesn’t matter who you are. If there are not enough people interested in your proposal it doesn’t get scheduled. It’s a level playing field. Love it.
 
 *** The session: Each session is 45 minutes. In nearly all cases, they turn into discussion groups. The moderator welcomes questions/opinions at any point. It’s a very relaxed environment and most enjoyable.
 
 *** The breaks: After each session there’s a 30 minutes break. This is fantastic for a couple of reasons: 1. You can reflect on the session you’ve just been in, take notes or even continue the conversation with those who chaired the session. 2. Nobody is in a rush. You’ve got time to have a drink, catch up with colleagues or get some fresh air. It gives your brain a little chance to recharge.
 
*** The food and drinks: The choice of food and drinks were exemplary. I simply can’t fault any of it. No stone was left unturned. I even got a nice cup of tea! Well done.
 
 *** The venue: Each session room was a different size. That gave the organising team a chance to put the more popular proposals into the correct location. The less voted talks had a cosy atmosphere in the smaller sized rooms. The main area downstairs (aptly named 1.68B) was spacious with plenty of seating to chill out. All room acoustics were good. 
 
*** The run: On the Saturday, everybody had free time from 5pm to 8pm. Six of us went for a run along the river Rhine at sunset. It was amazing. I don’t run very often myself but I just had to do it. Another magnificent memory engraved in my mind forever. 
 
*** The Firegento Team: No names. You were all truly wonderful. Events take huge amounts of effort and time. Great events take much more. This is one of them. Congratulations of all involved. The fact that the organising committee come from different companies it just shows you the unity and respect they have for each other.
 
*** The pre-pre-party, pre-party & party: No Magento event can exist on this planet without plenty of party time! It was grand. 
 
*** The video man: He was everywhere! Legend. He was there to capture the atmosphere and people chit chatting. On the feedback form it asked “record all sessions on video”. I hope this remains as “No”. I think it will only discourage people getting involved in discussions. Video puts quite a few off. I believe it would also be a distraction for the speakers/mediators. Sometimes, we just want to speak our minds -> “What goes on tour, stays on tour”.
 
Was there nothing wrong with this event at all? If I was to pick one little thing it would be the fact that we didn’t get to boogie. The music at the party had to be kept quite low (because we were in a residential area) so it didn’t quite create an atmosphere for dancing. I wanted to see Fabian Schmengler’s beautiful long hair spin wild and free to the sound of Bon Jovi ;-)
 
In summary:
 
I had heard a lot of good things about this conference. I went with high expectations. Those expectations were exceeded. I had some specific questions to get answered. They got answered!
 
One of my favourite expressions is “relax, relate, communicate”. I can happily say #mageUC18 had this in abundance :-)
 
If I was to pick one “must attend” developer conference in 2019 and beyond this would be the one. It’s as simple as that.
 
All the best,
Tadhg (Tiger)
#CommunityIsKing
 
PS. Check out https://www.mageunconference.org/ for more details :-)

PPS. Who am I? I’m a dev team lead at https://www.screenpages.com/ : You can read a little more about me at https://www.screenpages.com/about/team/tadhg-bowe-bio :-)

Opening session.
A little something to take away from #mageUC18
My running buddies.
No event can exist without sponsors. Thank you!