The 20th and 21st of June saw the orange mist* descend on Westminster Bridge as the distributed network of passionate Magentites came together for the 5th MagentoLive UK.
Many of the slides are already available on the schedule page, so be to sure to bookmark for reading later if you either weren't able to make it or take it all in on first go!
For those that weren't there, here are a few of my own notes. A disclaimer that not everything is included and that's not because it wasn't great but that I wasn't able to attend every talk!
Fraport was probably the highlight of the business track. An impressive implementation by AOE for Frankfort's Airport which shows what really can be achieved with Magento.
There was a panel of Fashion partners that included Links of London, Radley & Co and Oliver Sweeney. One dominant theme of the discussion was about differentiating their offering to marketplaces or resellers through techniques such as personalisation. Internationalisation through localised country sites was very much at the forefront of their strategies for the next 12 months as well.
There was a Solutions Spotlight section which was a new format for a Magento event for me. Essentially, this was 30 minutes where product companies got 90 seconds to pitch their benefits. This was a good format that worked well, giving exposure to those in the marketplace. Many of the companies you are likely to be familiar with, e.g. Nosto, (Bronto)[http://bronto.com/], UK Fast with some new faces as well Attraqt, emarsys and Codisto
Maksym Pronko spoke on the number of design patterns used in Magento 2. Admittedly, it's a bit overwhelming the number that are used but I'm gradually getting a better understanding of each one. The next step for me personally is understanding why one is used over another and how to make them work well together without overdoing it.
I didn't make James Cowie's talk on the Desconstructed Magento module but I believe it to be a development on the one at MageTitans. I enjoyed it there so anyone that did attend was in for an informative treat.
There was also a talk by Gordon Knoppe about migration which mostly covered the migration of data and the open source tools that Magento have provided to help convert local extensions (i.e. those that aren't third party extensions).
Early on in the event, Hillary Corney gave a seminar on collecting requirements for Magento builds. It was very well received and as a team that worked with Hillary while he was at Ordnance Survey, it's fantastic to see him doing great things for Magento now.
There was a presentation on the vision for the new Marketplace by the Head, and Lead Product Manager of the project.
New features on the way include:
- Agency Accounts
- Staging/Sandbox for testing
- IP and Copyright Protection
- Currency F/X
- Hierarchical account management
- Upgrade policies
- Quality program improvements
- Bundling extensions together
- Support system
- Recurring payment pricing model support.
Finally, they invited Kristoff Ringleff (Fooman) for a short Question and Answer session. He was positive and encouraged by the improvements being made.
As an agency that has dabbled in extensions it is an intriguing time. There is an opportunity to be part of an extension marketplace that is more controlled which produces better value to both the clients purchasing and the vendors selling. For anyone willing to take the bet on the future of Magento extensions and the marketplace, now is the time to place it.
Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition
As expected, Magento's new Platform-as-a-service got plenty of stage time. This is a pretty unique offering for Enterprise customers that wish to offload all the worries of hosting and platform management. It has a bunch of services baked in which make it attractive to both store owners and agencies alike.
For those that followed events at Imagine, I don't believe there was anything new that you missed out on. They did, however, mention that Oliver Sweeney are one of the first to sign up and they should be launching on Enterprise Cloud Edition 2.1 shortly.
As this is a cloud-approach, there isn't a one size fits all pricing strategy but it's likely only to make sense to you if you were already planning on implementing a auto-scaling cloud solution rather being able to being that solution to the masses.
It's certainly one to watch, particularly for a company rooted as a product company. Providing a service that requires 24/7 support is new ground for Magento so there are sure to be some learning curves along the way. Lots of potential here though.
Magento Partners with Meet Magento
There wouldn't be much of a community without Meet Magento. This organisation that has been unaffiliated for many years and even used to run the UK Magento conference before Magento did. Without Meet Magento, many people of 10s of countries would not have access to a conference that enabled them to network, learn from and inspire others.
It was announced that there was now a formal relationship between the two entities. What was desperately missing was what kind of relationship this was and what sort of effect it would have on event. At the very least I would imagine this would mean no more conflicts in event schedules! Anything that supports the growth of these events will be welcomed by all.
Magento 2.1 had been announced at Magento Live and we've recently seen a few release candidates. We were told that it is to be released this week. Features highlights are:
- Improved Content Staging and Preview (EE)
- Elasticsearch replaces Solr (EE)
- PayPal in-context checkout
- Braintree Hosted Fields
- Improved admin UI, e.g. quick search
As always, a bunch of fixes as well. For more information view the RC Release Notes
Very little was mentioned about any further releases this year. There were mentions in some of the tracks about the slated release with features tailored for B2B stores but nothing new was provided. As mentioned by others prior to me, there is far less of a publicised roadmap for new releases than there was before 2.0. The impression being that the quarterly release cycle has reduced to half yearly. This may only be a short-term solution while significant investment is made in stabilising the new platform and processes like github management.
The times for networking are always where the most value comes from when attending these events. The presentations can be caught up on later but in person you get the opportunity to share experiences, find opportunities, get feedback and learn from others.
It is always nice to get an impression of the ecosystems overarching feeling towards Magento. It was certainly a similar size to previous years so it is still going strong. Most members have been understandably cautious at the early stage of Magento 2's life, ourselves included. There is still plenty of excitement about it's potential so as confidence grows in the stability and more learn through migrations I think we'll see further growth.
In terms of the core ecommerce themes that were coming through, many of the familiar challenges were mentioned:
- Personalisation for creating a brand experience and as a unique selling point.
- Omni-channel, still hard to do because of the amount of systems and organisation involved but the benefits are obvious.
- Internationalisation, for when the market is saturated, make the most of new ones!
* "orange mist" was the one of the potential names for Meanbee in the early days. I'm glad we chose what we did!