Mage Titans USA 2016: Magento Conference Reflections

The first MageTitansUSA event concluded last week after two days of packed technical sessions on a very wide variety of topics of interest to Magento developers. The MageTitans conference is well-known in Europe, but this was the first time it came to the USA and was held in Austin, TX. It is primarily a technical conference for Magento developers. Sponsors included some big names in the industry: PayPal, ShipperHQ, Space48, ShipStation, Shopgate, Nexcess, TaJar, SubscribePro and Karen Baker from ShipperHQ was one of the driving forces getting this event to happen in the USA.

Eric Landmand and Dan Greig standing in front of a Mage Titans sign

My co-worker Dan Greig (Tech Lead) and I were excited to attend because these types of events can help renew energy and kick-start efforts, remove obstacles, and provide answers from experts in the community. Most developers are at the cusp of implementing Magento 2 and since this was a big refactoring of the codebase, there have been a few stumbling points to negotiate and we were eager to learn more what Magento 2 brings and where Magento as a platform is headed. We were not disappointed.

Below are some impressions and takeaways that I got from the event. These are from quick notes, so apologies if there are any factual inaccuracies or significant omissions. You are encouraged to look at the notes from the talks for complete detail (and there is a lot of it!) which should be accessible from the MageTitansUSA site very soon.

Most of the talks provided something of interest, some with direct answers to questions that I needed and others with suggestions and new ideas that were definite areas to pursue. Here are some of the most interesting items from my experience:


Brent Peterson of Wagento (Minneapolis, MN)

Brent talked about project management aspects, how to manage customers, using Jira, Magento, and Pandadocs to compile status reports and user stories. The stories become the final story of the project. Communication is critical; it is important to discuss (and document) out-of-scope requests and any project delays. Reports are done daily, weekly and monthly.


Eugene Tulika (M2 core developer) (Austin, TX)

talked about integrations and the new architectural element RabbitMQ for messaging, which is a major architectural expansion for Enterprise.


Gabriel Guarino (certified developer from Argentina)

delivered a talk that had a mountain of content about Magento 2 for Magento 1 Devs, a topic of interest to me. Magento’s architecture has changed completely so a point driven home is to work with the new architecture instead of trying to do things the Magento 1 way. Magento 2 uses LESS and ReqiureJS, which results in tighter code, more accurate dependencies, and many fewer files to include and download in the rendered HTML making the page load faster. The codebase can be managed using Composer which does a lot of the work for the developer.


Ivan Chepurnyi (one of Magento’s original core developers)

Ivan talked about performance and microservices, especially for sessions, inventory, cart, image resizing

ReactPHP and  PHPFasatCGI


Brendan Falkowski of Gravity Department (California)

His presentation on the B2B Experience was really great and completely mirrored my experience working with B2B companies. These customers frequently work with part numbers, purchase orders, really have not much use for hierarchical navigation, so the emphasis is on facilitating the sale as much as possible. This might include frequently purchased products (favorite products), multiple lists, CSV uploading of favorite products, special reporting and of course ERP integration.


Day Two: Mage Titans 2016


Kimberley Thomas (certified scrum master with Magento)

Kimberely presented on agile development and how it can be used for Magento projects. Project managers got some ideas on how various process-related items could be implemented, including estimating and attempting to make some sort of order out of the development process, which is a never-ending challenge.


Igor Melnikov of Magento

Igor spoke on the way Magento 2 handles Enterprise Staging and Preview, which looks quite powerful. This is an enterprise-only feature set.


John Higby of PayPal

John talked about PayPal in the landscape of payment solutions, providing some interesting stats. PayPal currently supports 188M consumers with 14.5M active merchant accounts. Magento is the largest merchant base besides eBay. PayPal handled 1.4B transactions for a total of $86B (last quarter). 28% of those sales were from mobile. He expected that by next year it will be about 50% on mobile. The conversion rate is 1/3 that for mobile compared to desktop, so we have some work to do to increase the conversion rate. He pointed out that mobile users are buyers, not shoppers. We need to make payment as easy as possible. Braintree had a booth there and they mentioned that you can connect it to quite a lot of different payment gateways simultaneously, which sounds interesting and I want to try. This will be something I will be definitely checking out.


Jonathan Bownds from Praxis Information Service (Austin, TX, author of Mastering Magento 2)

Jonathon spoke on SysOps and mentioned some tools they use including Jenkins (for deployment), Ansible (Instead of Chef and Puppet), PhantomJS.


Chris Manger of Jamerson

Chris did a quick talk on a Magento Developer Tools extension and an attribute creator extension that he wrote and which can be found here: Enhanced debugging tool and Attribute creator


Matthew Beane from Aepod

Matthew did a talk on DevOps and Continuous Integration Tools, mentioning Bamboo, Jenkins, Composer, TravisCI, with implementation to Amazon AWS.

For monitoring, he started with Nagios but has moved into using New Relic (as does our shop, Earthling Interactive). One tidbit provided is that there are several Magento extensions that integrate with New Relic which look pretty useful.

He also recommended Rock Solid for Magento Development by Fabrizio Branca 


Kevin Schroeder (consultant to Zend and the Expert Consulting Group)

Kevin talked about better browser testing, working with the Selenium Server and Chromedriver, including some special tips for working with the Facebook Webdriver. He has a Selenium testing demo at and which looks to be something to investigate.


Cristian Partica of Magento (Austin, TX)

Cristian had a very extensive presentation on migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2, laying out the major steps of code audit, requirements, presentation layer, showing the differences in the codebase (folder-level), talking some about the architectural differences, and testing. He talked a bit about a code migration tool for custom modules and a data migration tool and the sorts of challenges the whole process presents. I am looking forward to getting his notes on this one.

Code Migration Tool for custom modules


Data Migration Tool:


Ben Marks from Magento

Ben is a very well-known name in the community, and he talked about the history and current state of Magento 2, about opening the codebase and getting it on Github and where to file feature requests (hint: do it on the forums). He also talked about the Magento Marketplace; the extensions featured on there should be higher quality due to static code analysis and other checks they do.

He mentioned the new UI components and he talked about the significant effort at documentation, which you can see in part at I can say from experience today that setting up Magento 2 using these docs worked well.


Joshua Warren of Creatuity (Dallas, TX)

Joshua talked about ERPS, APIs, Messaging and how the new Enterprise integration of RabbitMQ (a standalone system integrated with Magento) works to handle plaintext, process commands, or any other type of information.


Olga Kopylova (a Magento 2 architect)

Olga talked about Magento 2 Deployment. She detailed the most recommended way to get a site set up for development (using the Composer implementation) or if you are an extension developer or want to contribute to the Magento codebase (using the git implementation). You can also use a readymade Vagrant or Docker container to get Magento 2 up and running.

One new thing is that to use Composer you will need to sign in to Magento Marketplace and get your user keypair which is quite a simple process. The whole structure and methodology promises to make upgrades far less hassle and much more predictable. We will have to see how that goes.


Steve Yankovich of Magento

Steve concluding the conference by talking about the Future of Commerce, with some interesting stats on personalization, trends, and what appears to be logarithmic growth of mobile use and where the whole experience is heading.


Concluding Thoughts:

As you can see from the speaker list, there was tremendous support directly from the Magento staff, as well as the community. The amount of content was quite a bit to absorb, but the energy level was high and it was a very positive experience with developers from many parts of the world attending. The Magento staff made it very clear that their partners and the community developers both are critical to the success of the platform as we are the ones out there building the sites, seeing the need for features and running into issues. They were very inclusive and supportive and wanted us to follow up with any questions or issues.

It is safe to say I expect to be attending this conference again.