I am so honoured to be made an Umbraco MVP. This award was given to me for my contributions to the Umbraco Community. It is the highlight of my career as a Web Developer and came completely out of the blue when I received the good news, with an invitation to collect the award at CodeGarden in May.
CodeGarden is the Official Umbraco Developer Conference. I've been looking forward to this trip since I was invited to go by The Chief Unicorn Niels Hartvig back in April.
I've heard so many good things about CodeGarden and especially Umbraco Bingo, but I still didn't really know what to expect.
So it's a developer conference right, you're probably thinking it's lots of technical talks about Umbraco and Web Development technologies? Yes that is right but around all of this is a festival atmosphere. It's not just a conference, it's a celebration, a party. And the party gets started the night before CodeGarden begins, at the pre-party which takes place at Umbraco HQ.
This was a great opportunity to start with, to be able to see what the Umbraco HQ looks like and get talking to other Umbracians in an informal environment, loosened up by some alcohol.
I met so many people who I recognised from the Our Umbraco forum, twitter and Slack group. This online community was coming together in one place to have a drink and a chat in person. It was the perfect start and it set the tone for the whole event.
The HQ is in a strange building with a big engine in it, it's like a museum for some kind of industrial engine. At the front is an open plan office on 3 levels, up a few steps towards the middle is the engine room where the bar was, and down the stairs behind and below the engine room was a conference room and the toilets. As seems to be the way with Umbraco, there were lots of inflatable unicorns and funny signs to decorate the place. It looked like a fun place to work and was definitely a great place to have the pre-party.
There was a free bar in the engine room and on the floor around the front office were lots of chilled containers, containing all of the beer pull requests sent in from Umbracians from around the world.
I usually feel alone in the crowd at these sort of occasions. I tend to be a fly on the wall, watching other people talking and having a great time. This time I made a tactical decision to stand to the side of the bar. This was such a good decision because there was a steady flow of different people coming to the bar and moving along which meant I had chance to talk to them whilst they were getting a drink and after. Instead of just standing in a corner out of the way where there's not much change in people to talk to I was in amongst it. I recommend you try this tactic if you are like me.
It was nice being recognised by some people. It was a good conversation starter. It was the same the other way round too for people I recognised.
After hanging around the bar for a while I went outside and was surprised to see how many people were there. I can't put an exact number on it but if guess there were between 100-150 people at the party that night.
The day started early with registration from 8:00 ready for the key not to start at 9:00
Some people were worse for wear that morning, thankfully I wasn't hungover at all. I needed to be fresh for the keynote speech.
The keynote started with an inspirational video about what CodeGarden is like for people who have been before and the advice they would give to first timers. The main advice was to be a friend, and be a Matt Brailsford.
Shannon Diminick and Rune Strand from HQ gave us some Danish speaking lessons. The main Ines which I can vaguely remember are:
The thing which makes Umbraco stand out from other Content Management Systems is the community. The help from the friendly community members on the forum, in the slack channel and on twitter. The countless pull requests to the core and to the documentation. These are the people who use the product and they help shape it to be the great system it is today. This was acknowledged in the keynote speech by Niels.
Umbraco v7 is very stable and mature right now. Whilst there are some security patches and minor improvements being added to it, there's not a great deal to add to it. They are paving the way for v8 to come out. It is currently being worked on full time by Shannon and Stephan. It's a lot more streamlined, modular and testable.
We were told about v8. It is now available in preview mode. So it's not an Alpha or a Beta, but it is available for us to try out and give feedback on. It is a cleaner codebase, because they have removed the legacy code. It has better multi-lingual options built into it. It won't run on .NET Core yet, but with a cleaner codebase it will make it easier to do when the time comes.
Umbraco Headless is going to be released as a commercial SaaS product. You will have the power and backoffice of Umbraco, coupled with the API endpoints to make it a great headless CMS solution. This can be used to power chat bots, amazon/cortana skills, mobile apps etc. The opportunities are endless. Earlier this year, I used the Umbraco Headless API to create a content managed React website.
Umbraco is now a sponsor of LetsEncrypt at the same level as Facebook. This means that on Umbraco Cloud you can now get a free SSL certificate. What is even better, is the fact that they will automatically renew the LetsEncrypt certificate for you, so you are protected without any extra cost and without the worry of the certificate expiring. That's the beauty of Latch.
After the talks on the first day there was a special episode of umbraCoffee with Callum and Marcin. It was the first episode to have a live audience in the room. It was great that Umbraco HQ had encouraged this and helped get it set up. In this episode they mentioned a boat trip would be happening that evening and we should pick up a token from the swag desk. I went over, got my token and told everyone I could about it so they wouldn't miss out as the tokens were limited.
In the evening of the first day I thought after the talks had finished people would start to trickle out of the venue and go back to their hotels to get ready for going out in the evening somewhere around Odense. I was wrong. Everyone stayed around for some food and then we got on a boat to cruise up the river and back. It was great.
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