Review – Shopware Community UnConf 2023


After the successful premiere last year, we again supported the Shopware Community UnConference 2023 as one of the main sponsors. What we experienced from 24 to 26 March in Cologne, we report in this review.

The Shopware Community UnConference - affectionately called SCUC by the organising team - is a fixed part of our event calendar alongside the Mage UnConf. After last year's successful kick-off, the team was already looking forward to the event weeks in advance.

Connoisseurs of the UnConferences organised by FireGento e.V. already know that these events are an alternative to classic conferences and congresses. For such an UnConf you need a motivated community (in this case from the Shopware environment), a suitable location that invites networking, delicious food and lots of good coffee.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the FireGento e.V. team! Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Carmen Bremen, Claudia Teubner, Fabian Blechschmidt and Rico Neitzel for their great organisation.

But let's start from the beginning: On Friday afternoon, we started with our eight-member event team in two cars from our Paderborn office and arrived in Cologne with (almost) no traffic jams. After a short breather at the hotel, we were off to the Alte Feuerwache.

Traditionally, FireGento's UnConfs are opened with a pre-party in this rustic pub. A great opportunity to celebrate a warm reunion with familiar faces and make new contacts over a Kölsch, Coke or water.

The event hashtag

Want more impressions? Under the official event hashtag #scuc23 you can find numerous community posts about Shopware Community UnConf 2023 on Twitter, LinkedIn and Co.

Day 1 - Coffee, quantum computing, coriander

On 25 March, we set off on foot to Tor 28 - a wonderful distance of about 15 minutes to get the circulation going. Arriving at the location, the morning started with a delicious coffee, freshly prepared by the barista at the portafilter. Then we went straight to work, as the organising team welcomed us not only with great gifts (a bordeaux T-shirt and a coffee mug from safefive), but also with pen and paper.

Starting the day with coffee, pen and paperStarting the day with coffee, pen and paper | Picture: maxcluster

This is how the SCUC programme is determined

Traditionally, UnConf starts with thinking about topics you want to talk about or learn more about. There is no programme with fixed lectures. Topics and interests are first identified on site and then collected on a pinboard. Although it is possible to prepare lectures or panel discussions on certain topics, the plenum decides which topics make it into the programme. The voting is done democratically with the help of stickers (officially so-called "Klebchen"!). The proposals that receive the most stickers make it into the programme. By the way, the range of topics is not limited. Everything is possible, from lectures with a technical focus to unusual hobbies!

At 10:30 a.m. Rico Neitzel and Fabian Blechschmidt opened the programme with a short introduction. Here, the participants were welcomed once again and familiarised with the UnConf schedule.

Opening Session with Fabian and RicoOpening Session with Fabian and Rico | Picture: maxcluster

Immediately afterwards, the participants went to the pin boards where they had previously collected possible topics for the sessions. All those with ideas had the opportunity to briefly introduce their topic in one or two sentences. Afterwards, all participants received two stickers with which they could mark their favourite topics.

Presentation of possible topicsPresentation of possible topics | Picture: maxcluster

The programme: Testing, deployment tools and AI

As usual for the UnConf, the first day of the SCUC was dominated by technical programme items.

The programme on 25 MarchThe programme on 25 March | Picture: maxcluster

Quantum computing

What happens when mathematics and physics meet computer science was illustrated by Max Schlemmer with a short introduction to the topic of quantum computing. Max conducts research in this complex field at the University of Regensburg. In his session, he showed how classical bits differ from qubits (short for quantum bits). He also gave an overview of how quantum algorithms work. Many thanks for this interesting insight!

Well, who can follow here?Well, who can follow here? | Picture: maxcluster

It’s a (testing) trap!

In another session, Ramona Schwering, who is responsible for testing at Shopware AG, showed that software testing does not have to hurt. In her presentation, Ramona reported on her approach to testing, common pitfalls and possible solutions. Fans of Star Wars also got their money's worth, as the title of the talk was an analogy to Admiral Ackbar's famous exclamation "It's a trap!

Testing tips mixed with Star WarsTesting tips mixed with Star Wars | Picture: maxcluster

Ramona ended her presentation with the words "Please keep your tests stupid simple". A test should therefore have a direct benefit and focus on certain elements of the application. If you want to learn more about this, you can find the slides of her presentation on Ramona's website.

Deployment tools

At the suggestion of our colleague Marius, Fabian Blechschmidt presented a slot on the topic of deployment. Fabian reported on how he proceeds with deployments and which tools he uses. The tool Deployer, which is used more often in the context of PHP applications, was mentioned frequently.

Opportunities and risks of AI in e-commerce

Artificial intelligence is on everyone's lips at the moment. Whether Chat-GPT, Stable Diffusion or Bard - the online world is currently flooded with AI models. Along with them come many theories about how the world of work will change in the near and distant future through the use of AI. AI software that writes code or texts and generates images or videos is already a reality today. No wonder, then, that this topic was also hotly discussed in the context of the SCUC. A well-attended panel first evaluated which AI models are known and what they can be used for.

Based on this, the panel looked at the opportunities and risks involved. Aspects such as the quality of the generated information played a role, but also the question of whether AI models will make certain professions obsolete, such as that of the developer. The consensus was that AI in expert hands is a tool that helps to make work processes more time-saving and efficient.

The results of the AI panel were recorded in writingThe results of the AI panel were recorded in writing | Picture: maxcluster

What is yet to come remains to be seen. However, the panel agreed that AI will fundamentally change the definition and consumption of content.

Empowering women in tech

In this panel, which was also moderated by Ramona Schwering, the participants addressed the representation of women in the IT industry. This is a very important topic, because technical IT professions are still strongly dominated by men. This was also evident from the participants at the SCUC, about 80 to 90 percent of whom were male.

During the session, Ramona reported on her experiences, challenges and learnings to date and discussed with the participants how women can successfully empower themselves in IT.

Aftershow party in the shared flat

After the official programme and a short break, the party continued at the "Wohngemeinschaft", an iconic location in the Belgian Quarter. With cold drinks and Mexican street food (with lots of coriander and a fantastic guacamole), we were able to continue the day's conversations and bring the day to a successful close.

Day 2 - Shopware Performance, Smoothies, Future of the IT Industry

The second day started a little less energetically than the first, which was probably due to the after-effects of the after-show party and the time change. As the participants arrived at Tor 28 only bit by bit, the first programme slot was postponed to 11:00 am. After another short introduction followed by programme voting, we started the sessions with motivation.

The programme: Performance analyses, training, How to FuckUp

With a total of twelve sessions and talks, 26 March also had some programme highlights to offer.

The programme on 26 MarchThe programme on 26 March | Picture: maxcluster

Shopware Performance Deep Dive

This workshop was about performance analysis in Shopware 6. The initial question was how to make the performance of Shopware 6 instances measurable and improve it. Jochen Manz from the Kellerkindern used a demo store and his stage environment to show how he goes about analysing performance. PHP profiling tools such as Tideways or Blackfire and their respective strengths were also discussed. Tideways stands out, for example, because it contains specific best practices for Shopware 6 or Magento 2.

If you want to learn more about the profiling tools Tideways, Blackfire and New Relic APM, you can find information worth knowing about all three tools in our free e-book.

Deep Dive Shopware performanceDeep Dive Shopware performance | Picture: maxcluster

Training vs. studying in the IT sector

The shortage of skilled workers continues to be strongly felt in the IT sector. Too few take up training as IT specialists or related IT professions, and even fewer complete it successfully. Don Bosco Nguyen van Hoi from the Mothership agency took this as an opportunity to talk about the topic of training at the SCUC. This is also a very relevant topic for us at maxcluster, as we will be training for the first time this year.

In this session, there was a very lively discussion about what is currently going wrong and how training for various IT professions could be made more attractive. Entrepreneurs, trainers and trainees from the audience took part in the discussion.

It was pointed out that an apprenticeship has the advantage over a university degree that theoretical knowledge is combined with a practical activity in working life. Transparency in terms of salary and the communication of company values also play a major role. One trainee, who described himself as belonging to Gen Z, made it clear that dealing at eye level and with respect was enormously important to him. Something must also be done in the education system so that apprenticeships regain their value compared to university studies.

The factors that came up in this discussion are certainly only a fraction of the entire topic. Nevertheless, something can only change if it is talked about and all those involved are given a voice.

How To FuckUp

Let's be honest - every one of us has screwed up at some point in our careers. Often all it takes is a small, careless mistake on the command line. And suddenly: live data deleted, backup gone or something similar.

That's exactly what this session was about. Making mistakes is human. Part of a good error culture is not blaming each other. Instead, it helps to actively deal with mistakes and look for solutions together.

What else was involved

Besides the sessions, two other aspects are in focus at an UnConf: good conversations and delicious food. There was definitely not too little of both at the SCUC. Throughout the event, there were numerous opportunities for networking and intensive exchange. So if you needed a break from the sessions, you could always find someone for a good chat in the main room or in the courtyard of Tor 28. The Pac-Man principle applied: during conversations, a place was always left free in the circle so that other people could easily join the conversation.

Anyone who has ever attended a FireGento UnConf also knows the unwritten rule: If you go home hungry or thirsty, you have done something wrong. On both days of the event, catering was provided throughout. In addition to the aforementioned coffee from the portafilter, there were fresh smoothies and a large selection of soft drinks (water, cola, soda, mate, energy and more). Breakfast, a sumptuous lunch (sponsored by Tideways), dessert and cake were also provided.

With a button machine, pinball machine, table football and air hockey, there was also further entertainment on offer. This way, the participants could playfully compete and have fun together.

The maxcluster team playing air hockeyThe maxcluster team playing air hockey | Picture: maxcluster


On Sunday afternoon, we made our way home, a little tired but happy. We had a lot of inspiration and input from the talks and sessions on site in our luggage.

It's great to experience the solidarity within the Shopware community live - during lively discussions or when sharing experiences. Many thanks to Rico, Claudia, Carmen and Fabian from FireGento e.V. for putting on such a great event year after year! We will be back and are already looking forward to the Mage UnConf in September and the SCUC next year.

Published on 30.03.2023 | DR

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