Ontmoet TYPO3

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TYPO3 Developer Days is a developer-oriented international event which takes place once a year. Or better: it is the event of the year.

The conference is meanwhile in its 12th year, and this years event - T3DD17 - recently took place from 13-16 July in Malmö, Sweden. The so-called DevDays are a true highlight in the calendars of the many TYPO3 developers who participate, and I’d say this event has long been established to be an absolute “must-attend” for ambitious TYPO3 developers.

It’s a great opportunity to improve skills. But it’s not only the knowledge gained from the talks and workshops that make the DevDays so attractive. They’re also an invaluable opportunity to meet like-minded people and get in touch with highly qualified TYPO3 developers. Lively discussing at lunch is part of the fun, and of the personal gain. At the DevDays, you get a qualified opinion on just about everything - and also on coding matters, of course.

Setting the stage: A new location

In the past few years, the DevDays took place in a modest manner in the hostel in Nuremberg. The setting, and also having the house to ourselves, made the event feel a bit more like being on a school trip than at a conference.

This year’s venue was quite something different. It took place in the Quality View Hotel in the city of Malmö in southern Sweden - a hotel usually frequented by suits. A big thank you goes out to the three premium sponsors, namely jweiland.net, dkd Internet Service GmbH and Platform.sh, whose generous support made this special setting possible.

We were pretty curious beforehand, and were asking ourselves how and if this setting would work out with “our kind” of crowd. And the big question was, if they would be able to provide a decent wifi to meet the needs of so many tech-savvy developers. Having 200 suited guests with a blackberry phone is not quite the same as having 300 devs, each of them with at least three devices. And dressed in t-shirts, by the way, which were sponsored by AOE GmbH.

The first impressions were really good. The hotel has a nice atmosphere, and the conference rooms were all close to each other. This made switching rooms really easy and everybody was just a minute’s walk away. “I’ll meet you there” was an uncomplicated matter.

On coders & icecream

We were taken care of really well by our hosts. The hotel offered free water and coffee throughout the whole event, and the Pixelant crew offered soft drinks at a reasonable price. Plus, the hotel had this lovely ice cream machine, offering free soft ice with lots of sprinkles. The Assistant Manager made the mistake of challenging us developers with a #t3icecreamchallenge. Needless to say, that wasn’t much of a challenge for quite a few of the developers. Till we came to visit, this year’s record had been 7 refillings of the ice cream machine in a single day ... we had 31 refills.

Let’s talk about talks

Lots of talks were given, covering a wide variety of topics and a broad range of expertise. There were ones about the various little gems in TYPO3, about custom content elements and about caching. All of the talks were really great, and some of them were absolutely top notch, providing ideas and inspiration beyond one's own nose.

We were very happy to have Nils Adermann with us, one of the lead developers of Composer. Nils gave us a lot of best practices on how to use Composer more efficiently and on how to integrate Private Packagist into projects. If you’d like to find out more about what Composer is about, you’ll find lots of helpful information in this post, that could save you a tremendous amount of time (and nerves too!).

Terrence Ryan is a recidivist at the DevDays; he’s a Developer Advocate from Google Cloud Platform. Terry demonstrated how to run a LAMP environment in containers with easy-to-follow steps. And of course he also showed us how Google Cloud can support that by running many containers simultaneously. This was a very inspirational talk that showed just how powerful the cloud is, no matter if it’s Google, AWS or any other cloud.

Andrew Melck from Platform.sh gave us an insight into a new approach for working with development branches. In an ideal world, you want to have a staging system for every single branch you create in your VCS. This way, you can send branches 1, 2 and 3 out for approval, and then branch 4 to the design team for finishing touches. And finally branch 5 to the developer who caused the bug in the first place, which has meanwhile been fixed. Platform.sh solves this issue in an elegant way, by enabling the booting of a virtual machine for every branch you like. Very impressive indeed.

My personal highlight was a two-headed talk between two open-source software figureheads. TYPO3’s Matthias Schreiber “fought” with Jeffrey A. McGuire, also known as Jam, one of Drupal’s evangelists. They didn’t actually fight about the question whether TYPO3 or Drupal is better, but dug much deeper. They talked about a fight we all need to fight together. And the “enemies” are the old, established names in the business enterprise CMS sector. There is no need for a fight between any open-source systems like Drupal or TYPO3, we’re all on the same page. But there are other companies muscling their way back from their graves. So we need to stand together, share our knowledge, benefit from each other, and keep creating great open-source software. Besides that, the talk was fun because … well, they’re both just who they are, and of course they couldn’t resist the odd side blow.

Developers developing code … and social skills

There’s a tradition at every one of TYPO3’s DevDays: Friday night is coding night. Participants get together in the evening for an open ended coding session and enjoy the spirit of a whole hall full of developers at work. This is the place to be for anyone wanting to catch the spirit of TYPO3’s DevDays. It’s a truly special experience. This year, a large number of TYPO3’s core team members were there, and lot of others too, of course. And yes, we did get a wee bit of sleep before the next talks started on Saturday morning!

Some prepared tasks to tackle on their own in the near future, and some were available for others in a helpful, “ask me anything” manner. A large group worked on the upcoming relaunch of typo3.org. And others worked on the improvement of widely spread extensions accompanied by the extension maintainers. The core team had prepared an issue board beforehand with a lot of issues. Everyone interested in contributing to TYPO3’s core was able to do so, and the weekend left us with an amazing amount of patches having being merged to the core. A big thank you goes to plan2net GmbH, maxserv and team neusta GmbH for making this coding night possible and so special.

Compared with DevDays in the past, there were more and longer breaks between the talks. This was a great improvement, as it gave participants more time to talk to one another about their learnings and experiences. And so were the lunch breaks. There was no hurry needed to enjoy the food, and even more time for fruity talks. But I do consider it to be a very ... brave ... decision to serve fish as the only available dish (except for vegetarians, of course).

The big buffet provided during the social event proved that IKEA serves a lot of genuinely Swedish food. Köttbullar and senapssill were served alongside a lot of other very tasty Swedish specialities. It was great to see the magic done by the hotel staff with the sponsorship from Google Cloud Platform, Bitmotion GmbH, QBank and Axis Communications.

Conclusion

Due to being so well organized by Pixelant and Kienast Datenverarbeitung, the TYPO3 Developer Days 2017 turned out to be an outstanding success and an enjoyable experience. We learned a lot of new things, met old friends and made new ones. The focus was pretty much upon deployment topics, which was good for some, but may have been less optimal for others. But in the end, I didn’t meet a single person with a bad feeling about this event.

A note before leaving. Remember? There was an #t3icecreamchallenge. On Sunday morning the participants got a certificate for winning the challenge and beating (as in “broke”) the ice cream machine. Luckily, there were no harsh feelings on the hotel’s staff side on this one, quite to the contrary, they were full of praise for our group. We truly enjoyed our time there, cleaned up any mess we made, and also bought quite an enormous amount of beer during our stay.

So thanks to everybody involved and see you all next year at the DevDays 2018.

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