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StripeCon EU in Malta: Sun, Knights and Code

SilverStripe core developer Ingo Schommer recaps StripeCon Europe 2017. See what talks and topics were presented in Malta as well as some interesting systems being built on SilverStripe by the European SilverStripe community.

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Two weeks ago, the European SilverStripe community got together for their fourth StripeCon. Following on from the previous locations (Linz in 2014, London in 2015, Ljubljana in 2016), they decided to up the game and hold it on a mediterranean island: Malta. About 40 attendees from eight countries got together for two days to talk shop. The attendees were mostly freelancers and small agencies. A few represented agencies with 20+ employees focusing their business around building SilverStripe websites - it’s great to see the community doing well!

Valletta Sliema

Image Credits: Ingo Schommer, Wind Up Media

I was pretty impressed with what kind of systems people are building with SilverStripe, for example a (legal) streaming video recommendation site, highly SEO optimised gaming news with 25,000+ articles, digital asset management integrations that auto-center images around detected faces (through Cloudinary), or frontend editors for single-page websites and business apps. It was also interesting to hear what services people found useful in a SilverStripe context. A small selection: Zapier for data processing and transactional services, Auth0 for login, Firebase as a persistence layer for realtime and mobile apps, and Algolia for search-as-a-service.

Of course, SilverStripe 4 was a major topic both in talks and the coffee breaks. A few of us might’ve been so immersed in discussions around versioning that we forgot to look at the sunset during the amazing boat trip to Malta’s “blue lagoon”. Overall, the feedback about SilverStripe 4 was positive. Many attendees mentioned module compatibility as the main blocker to planning an upgrade. We’re happy to report that over 160 modules are already compatible with the upcoming release, and are planning to work on a composer upgrade helper to auto-detect compatible module releases for your project.

My personal favourite was an extended open panel about content blocks. Three panel participants (Mr. Zauberfisch, Andy Adiwidjaja and myself) presented different solutions to managing content, from the baseline GridField approach of many blocks modules (incl. elemental), over tailored frontend editing, to layout builders with serialised DataObject storage. Since practically every attendee had this challenge before, the panel was more of a group brainstorming session. The consensus was that “with great power comes great responsibility”, and it can often be counter productive to give authors full control over how to assemble blocks into a layout. But at the same time, blocks are more than just flat lists managed in a GridField, and need specialised UIs to deal with them efficiently. Check out the video recording of the session once it’s online, and participate in the discussion over at #content-blocks on the SilverStripe Users Slack channel.

Talk slides are linked in the schedule on https://stripecon.eu, and we’ll tweet once the video recordings are available.

Thanks to all attendees who made the (long) way to Malta, to all sponsors who made this event possible, and to Highlight Media Group for organising such a memorable and valuable event.

About the author
Ingo Schommer

Ingo joined SilverStripe with its 2.0 release, and has since become an integral member of the development team. He's from Germany, but admits that New Zealand beer is often quite tasty as well.

At SilverStripe, Ingo enjoys coming up with robust solutions for real business needs. He builds modern web applications, making sure they work well in browsers and mobile devices, not just on paper. As a core developer on SilverStripe's open source framework, he facilitates community involvement, and helps architect and implement core functionality. Ingo authored the first book about SilverStripe, and is still keen on keeping the documentation fresh.

Ingo graduated as Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Media Production and has several years experience as a freelance PHP and Flash developer.

Away from the keyboard, Ingo is an avid gardener, debugging water flow and performance optimizing root growth instead of PHP.

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