Last month SilverStripe held StripeCon, their annual European conference out of their new office space in The Rain Making Loft, London. SilverStripe have always had an active user base in Europe, (interesting fact from the conference, the first SilverStripe book was written in German and only later translated to English) but they have only recently set up offices in the UK.
Myself and Leo, another developer at Quadra, made the trip across the channel for the two day conference armed with a laptop, some hand luggage and an eagerness to learn something new. The conference was sponsored by SilverStripe themselves and a handful of other web design and development agencies which meant that it was free to attend and they were able to offer meals and snacks throughout both days.
With SilverStripe being an open source framework it is fitting that the conference followed an open theme and around the scheduled talks and presentations there were many opportunities for comments, open discussion and short impromptu 'lightning talks' from any one who wanted to showcase one of their SilverStripe projects. I took this opportunity to show off Quadra's Mailchimp/SilverStripe integration 'Silverback' and Leo talked about his GULP and SASS based front-end workflow.
Mark Guinn (one of the maintainers of the SilverStripe Shop module) gave a talk on e-commerce with SilverStripe and highlighted the need to take the best bits of a number of the existing e-commerce modules and combine them to create a more complete solution. We attended an unscheduled break out meeting after the first day of the conference where we brainstormed the current pitfalls & restrictions imposed by the existing modules and listed our key requirements for this new e-commerce solution. A sort of working group is in the process of being formed with the intent to split this project into smaller manageable chunks and work together to build a new module which addresses all the current limitations and acts as a 'one stop shop' (pun intended) for all your SilverStripe e-commerce needs.
We also got to hear about the future of SilverStripe from CEO Sam Minnée who enlightened us all on what we have to look forward to in SilverStripe 4.0, (due for stable release in late 2016) and demoed the new SilverStripe Platform. Some of the most interesting advancements in SS 4.0 were:
- Abstraction of assets (the ability to use a cloud based storage solution for all assets managed via the CMS)
- Versioning of DataObjects and assets comes as standard
- More intuitive UI for CMS users including an improved 'Files & Assets' section including a gallery view
SilverStripe Platform also caught our attention, it is effectively a GUI which sits on top of the Amazon Web Services infrastructure/API which allows you to manage all of your VPS's in one place and offers a number of deep integrations with SilverStripe (and it's associated technologies) such as:
- The ability to manage version control and releasing / rolling back deployments
- Edit configuration files which are not tracked in source control
- Deploy new servers and websites at the click of a button
- A UI to monitor and filter access/error logs from all your environments in one place
All of this is coupled with technical support who not only have expertise in LAMP server management but are also experts with SilverStripe, meaning they can offer application level support as well as system architecture support. The infrastructure and its configuration also considers many of the key security concerns which banks and telcos need to abide by. This new project sounded like it would be very beneficial for a number of our clients and we intend to follow the progress of the project closely.
On top of all of that we also learn about a whole host of new modules, techniques, workflows and tips which will make us more productive and keep up with the ever changing landscape which is modern day web development.
Leo and I found the conference extremely enlightening, well run and most importantly enjoyable. It was great to meet key SilverStripe contributors and other developers in the community face-to-face and we are both hoping to be able to attend next years conference (location dependant). I would recommend that anyone interested in SilverStripe attend, you don't need to be SS nerds like us to enjoy it, you may even find it more beneficial than we did if you were relatively new to SilverStripe, the fantastic community they've built would certainly make you feel welcomed!
Don't forget to take a look at Leo's recent blog on why we choose SilverStripe over WordPress every time!