Follow-up on Magnolia User Group in Prague

On November the 24th, almost 3 weeks ago, a few lucky people met in Prague, Czech Republic. The second ever Magnolia User Group meeting was held. Chances are you heard about it if you follow Magnolia posting, but please read on. While this is my first blog about the concept and the event, I tweeted a lot about it and sent a couple of emails around.

What’s a Magnolia User Group? What happened in Prague? Why should you care? Read on!

What’s a Magnolia User Group ?

Captain obvious to the rescue: it’s a user group centered around Magnolia.

We like to think such events should stay marketing-free, and free of cost. They should be organized by and for the users. Such events should be local, “real life” events, where you get to meet in person.

Magnolia, the company, will be happy to sponsor any such event, perhaps by providing some food and drinks, and sending some members of our staff to attend.

Yeah, but what IS it ?

The description above is still a bit vague, isn’t it ? Well that’s the thing. The way I see it, there is not one specific format that a user group meeting should adopt. Depending on attendance and the interests at hand, a Magnolia User Group meeting could consist of anything from presentations (of Magnolia features, of your own module, of your projects) to hacking sessions (let’s finally fix this bug or implement this feature in that module) as well as a completely informal snacks-and-drinks gathering. Or everything in between.

The Amsterdam case

In the introduction paragraph, you might have wondered about my qualifying the Prague event has the “second” Magnolia User Group meeting. Indeed, there has been a predecessor event to this one. Back in May of 2010, we were contacted by a partner from Amsterdam. We were very enthusiastic of the initiative, and the event turned out great – a dozen persons gathered in Amsterdam. We were probably too optimistic about follow-ups though, since not much has happened in the area since then.

The Prague event

Following the Amsterdam event, we hoped for more user groups to crop up and start meeting. We realized, though, that our user base is quite spread apart, and we’d probably have to take the initiative. Since the 2011 Magnolia Conference was postponed, I took the opportunity to ask around on our forums if people would be interested in a less-formal, smaller gathering. Vienna and Berlin-based users were the first to show interest, so I looked at a map and proposed Prague has a central meeting point. This turned out to be a great choice, since it would also allow our dear users from to come along !

Since we also have an office in the Czech Republic, we decided to go ahead and be the host this time.

So a little recap on what happened at this meeting. A great group of 10 persons which formed a very varied panel of profiles. In turn, we got news from the Magnolia core team and a presentation of what Magnolia 4.5 is bringing followed by a very interesting demo of what one can achieve when using Modeshape as the repository for Magnolia. We witnessed the incredible work and customizations that Richard and his team did for the LFRZ in Austria. We were refreshed with an end-user’s perspective of what it means to work with Magnolia from EADS, and were treated to a demo of an exclusive GWT-based custom backend interface built in Magnolia by the folks at Aperto. 1

That could probably be considered a good user group meeting. But a great user group meeting happens when we go beyond the limiting frame of slides, chairs, coffee and politely raised hands for questions and answers. So, yes, we went for dinner after all of this… and then to a bar for a drink. Or two. 2

Thank you

Diana, Eve, Sarah, Frank, Jan, Jozef, Richard, Rihard, Ryszard: thank you for coming, and thank you for sharing. I hope you had as great a time as I had

Future events

As you can see from the accounts above, a Magnolia User Group meeting doesn’t require much to be a success, and does not need to be big.

So here comes the reason I’m writing this blog post. We would like for such events to become a thing, not just a one-time thing, but a regular thing. For this to happen, I need your help. Here’s what I’d like:

  • suggest a location. Somewhere near you. Somewhere you know other Magnolia folks could come to.
  • suggest a date.
  • do you have a room we could use ?

This is enough to get started. I’ll make sure the event or idea is announced and published in our newsletter and other outlets3. Feel free to discuss any given suggestion, or add your own, on the forum or in the comments below.

Oh and, if you’d like to suggest Basel, we’ll be happy to host the event here in our HQ !

So, what do you say ?

  1. Just for the record, I’ve attached my minimal slides here and here. If you were at the meeting and would like to share yours, drop me an email or a comment here ! 
  2. Prices in Czech bars are an excellent surprise…, not to say a dangerous one, when coming from Switzerland. 
  3. Once Magnolia 4.5 is out the door, I’m hoping to get some work done on a Magnolia Community website. I’m hoping to use this site as an outlet to promote and discuss such events, as well as a few more ideas we’re cooking up for you! In the meantime, follow this blog and my twitter account ! 

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