MODXpo 2013 Roundup

MODXpo 2013 in Cologne was exactly three weeks ago (yes, I am slow getting this out). For everyone who attended, things are back-to-business by now. It felt to me like tremendous success and feedback I received from attendees supports that feeling. Of course, there were a few hurdles and hiccups throughout the journey to the day, as well (more on that another time).

I want provide a recap of the sessions, thank those who made MODXpo happen, and highlight the initiatives that were borne in Cologne.

Day 1

Day one started with the State of MODX keynote from MODX co-founder, Ryan Thrash. In his presentation, Ryan talked about the last year, what MODX is working on now, and where MODX is headed as a company. He included a look at the new manager and the very popular Überbar in Revolution 2.3, MODX at the center of Customer Experience Management and much more.

E commerce was the subject of the morning panel discussion and open forum. Panelists George Economides, Bert Oost, Steve King, discussed a variety of themes related to successful E commerce implementations. The panelists and audience concluded that there is no complete, one-size-fits-all solution for E commerce in MODX and there likely never will be. There will be a combination of integrations with third-party solutions like Magento, FoxyCart, LemonStand and Shopify along with a variety of smaller, simpler solutions for basic product sales as MODX Add-ons such as SimpleCart, miniShop and others.

Mark Hamstra's Contributing to MODX was well received and included his "rant"—which was more a passionate and valid critique. He detailed some of the pain points of how the MODX company has handled community stewardship of the software.

Garry Nutting's talk High-Performance MODX: Caching & Scaling in Multiserver Environments, demonstrated clearly that MODX can meet most any project or traffic demands. Garry offered two real-world examples of high-demand MODX projects and some of the tools and techniques used.

Day one also offered Intro to MODX track where we offered free admission for people new to MODX to give them a look at the power and possibility with MODX. Susan Ottwell, Oliver, Hugo Peek, Mangesh Yadev and I, introduced MODX to a small group of folks. Due to the late addition of this track, turnout was just a handful of people; the positive side for the Intro attendees was that we were able to give them intimate guided tour and answer most any questions they had. We've got some burgeoning MODXers with a leg-up on getting started from seasoned vetrans.

Other talks on day one included GP Sietzema's MODX Fail Compilation, teaching what to do by learning from their mistakes; Bert Oost on Extending MODX User, in which he demoed his alternative method for adding user data without using extended User fields; Menno Pietersen shared his Mobile first, responsive web design in MODX and Mangesh Yadev walked through his MODX Theme Framework, in which he detailed this rapid prototyping tool and theme manager.

Friday evening was capped off with the GlowHost (thanks Matt) sponsored Friday Social. We had lots of local Kölsch and some nice dark Bavarian beer and some German soft-drinks. All paired with some tasty finger foods.

The Social was truly that, a social, where people moved from conversation to conversation about development, business, beer and everything else. Conveniently we were able to have our social time at StartPlatz, which allowed everyone to return after dinner rather than hunting out a different location.

Day 2

Anselm Hannemann, a former MODXer now dedicated to front-end development, and active speaker on the subject, launched the talks for day two. His talk on 5 Things You Need for Responsive Development talked about the challenges we face with this transitional time in Front End web development with all the tools, preprocessors and the like. The room was packed and the audience was drawn deep into his expertly executed talk.

Cyprus based, entrepreneur and educator, George Economides started a conversation around creating a diverse and connected network of MODXers in his MODX Based, Industry Solutions Common Exploitation Framework. His proposal is to help one another in a variety of ways from collaborating on projects, offering complete industry site packages, package near-complete work product for distribution, all through a MODX Marketplace.

MODX Cloud Lead, Mike Schell, shared details of the progress of MODX Cloud since July. This included a demo of the data being collected to stablize the plaftorms noting the addition of He also covered their current focus: streamlining the platforms and making it even easier to get sites and data out and onto other servers. More on that later. If you missed what's happened lately at MODX Cloud, here's a recent update.

After lunch, Chris Cherrett presented his talk on Continuous Integration & Deployment with MODX. One of the best talks of MODXpo, Chris showed everyone how his agency Adido, a former .net based company, uses MODX in a professional development team and ensures everything is done as efficiently and professionally as possible and pushing changes to the live environment only after rigorous testing, staging and etc. As a result of his talk, Chris produced two screen-casts demonstrating how it all works, you can see them here and here.

Steve King from Blaze Concepts ended the second day of talks with Distros for Success: the 6 Ps. He described how their team uses distribution packages to speed project development time.

Other talks on Day two included GP Sietzema on Power to the End User, Mark Hamstra on the Business of Premium which included a demo of his latest premium add-ons from modmore.

After Steve's talk MODXpo was brought to a close with a surprise release and demo (by JP Devries aka dinocorn) of Teleport, a powerful scripting toolkit for MODX Revolution to manage snapshots of your MODX sites or customize and extend it into a powerful set of commands for working with MODX deployments. We also gave out the prizes donated by sponsors including a modmore license and 5 licenses for JetBrains PHPStorm.

It Took a Village

One person alone cannot pull off a successful event of any size. The people who really made MODXpo 2013 both possible and, ultimately, a success were: Oliver Haase-Lobinger (@mindeffects), Christian Seel (@christianseel), Ben Davis (@bdcreativede) and Jens Wolff (@vamporio); and, on planning Mark Hamstra (@mark_hamstra), Bert Oost (@oostdesign) and Thomas Jakobi (@thjakobi).

Top, left to right, Oliver, Ben, Christian; Bottom, Mark, Jens, Bert, Thomas

Oliver handled all the location scouting, catering, food and beverage coordination. He knew the owner of StartPlatz and took fast action, giving us the ideal location for MODXpo when we thought we may have to call it off—just weeks before the start. He pitched-in everywhere. He was the real leader of MODXpo 2013 and without him it would not have happened.

Christian handled much of the website work, designed and printed the badges and provided the holders and his very cool, live Twitter Wall. During the event, he worked through lunches to make sure that things were in place and everything kept moving along. He and Ben handled registrations and setting up chairs and the spaces.

Ben helped out in planning, media outreach, transportation, opening registration, and setting up the locations.

Jens led the effort to find media sponsors who could promote the event as well as aided in setups and cleanup over the two days. Mark, Bert and Thomas also contributed to planning and development of MODXpo. For all the organizers efforts, give them thanks or beer money.

Our Gracious Sponsors

Conferences cost money and without sponsors, ticket prices would have been in the hundreds of Euros. We pushed the envelope for ticket pricing as it was, at €149 for regular priced tickets. Our gracious and generous sponsors really stepped up this year and we can't thank them enough. We seriously hope you can take the time to either thank them or, better yet, check them out.

Here's the list of our Gold and Silver Sponsors for MODXpo and don't forget to check out our Logo-level sponsors.

At the Gold Level: GlowHost (Social Sponsor), modmore, StartPlatz (location), Sterc (t-Shirts), and Trusted Shops. At the Silver Level: bd creative, buntebrause, chs median, FireHost, JetBrains (PHPStorm Licenses), Kochan & Partner, mindeffects, and Oost Design. And, of course, we don't want to forget our Logo and Media Sponsors whom you can find on the MODXpo Sponsors page. Thanks to them all.

Discussions and New Initiatives

One of the key initiatives that came out of MODXpo was George's idea of a vetted marketplace where MODX freelancers and agencies could exchange complete solutions, collaborate on projects, complete work product and more. This would allow smaller MODX shops to bid on larger projects or sell licensed, ready-made solutions and more. What came out of it was a wide ranging discussion on building a dynamic network and leveraging that network to do bigger and better work or uncover other business opportunities not previously considered. I've opened a forum thread to extend the conversation around this topic and everyone is welcome to get involved.

I don't even recall what talk it was at but one of the sessions opened up into a discussion on what people would like to see in MODX. I was moderating this session and working on just a couple hours of jet-lagged, espresso-affected sleep, therefore, I'd love to rekindle this discussion in the forums. There seemed to be some brilliant ideas floating around and it would be nice for incomplete ideas to be discussed and perhaps formed into proposals or, even better, a community led initiative to actually make it happen.

Event Photos

The photos included in the post are just a glimpse into the event. Over two days of the event and the social gatherings, both at the StartPlatz and around town we captured some MODXpo fun and friends. I hope to have these put into a gallery at as well, you can view some of them on Flickr. If you took photos at MODXpo, please let me know.

Final Thoughts

I was, as many others were, impressed with the sophistication, variety and professionalism of the work people are doing with MODX. It showed that our community is maturing and skills are deepening along with the web and content management industry. Despite personally stressing daily on coordinating the organization of MODXpo, I honestly can't wait to start planning the next MODXpo. In addition, there were rumblings of several community-driven MODX conferences in the coming year—that would be cool.

It was brilliant to have met so many folks, see so much enthusiasm for MODX and witness the sharing and genuine kindness we know of the MODX community, throughout the conference.

Share Your Thoughts on MODXpo 2013, Cologne

Leave your thoughts on MODXpo or, if you've got a forum post, like this one blog post like this one or this one, link to photos or something you'd like to see in a future MODXpo, please do.

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