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The Reference at Umbraco Codegarden 2017

Umbraco Codegarden is a yearly community event, and this year it was held in Odense, Denmark, near the Umbraco headquarters. It was a three day event from June 7th till 9th. The event is a great way for the umbraco community to get to know each other in real life, share experiences and meet the Umbraco HQ crew during the many walking dinners and social activities. There were also possibilities to participate in some hands on workshops.

Getting There

Since Odense is almost 200 km away from the Copenhagen Airport, it takes about two hours by train to get from the Airport to the city of destination.

Arriving At Odense

We arrived at Odense the evening before the event, having a stay at the cozy Windsor Hotel and a ten-minute walk away from the train station (Odense Banegård Center). Unfortunately we didn’t have the weather gods on our side. During our three-day stay it was quite rainy and chilly, which prevented us from drinking some Carlsberg beer on the terrace. But after all, we weren’t here to get a tan, but to participate at the sympathetic Umbraco event!

Welcome at the event

The Reference was represented by two developers, Steven & Ozkan, and had the chance to experience the atmosphere at first hand.

As it was the first time in Denmark and in Codegarden, we headed to the venue with some caution & unfamiliarity. However, the people, both from Umbraco HQ & the other attendees made sure that we would not hold on to those feelings. Our hesitance melted away with the music from the Jazz band at the entrance of the venue. We entered the building while high-fiving the welcomers, and proceeded with acquiring our badges & some cool Umbraco swags.

Keynote (by Niels Hartvig, CEO Umbraco)

The keynote was a great start to an even greater event. The crowd got pumped up by a small bonding session & cheering “High Five, You Rock” (#H5YR, “Umbracian way of saying Super-Well-Done, Super-Thanks”). Marinated with comedy, various people from Umbraco HQ granted a look under the hood for Umbraco’s current status, short-term & long-term plans, to which we will get in a moment.

Core Of Umbraco (Shannon Denninck, Umbraco CTO)

The ever sympathetic Shannon gave us a more in depth overview of the current status of the Umbraco features and possibilities like Umbraco as a Service (Uaas), new 7.6 features, the Improved Courier functionality and last but not least, the best new community created features were highlighted and their respective contributors were invited to the stage, receiving a warm applause from the audience. As a very nice icebreaker to let the audience immediately feel at home, he Invited Rune Hem Strand, an Umbraco HQ member and native Dane, to come on stage and pronounce some Danish words, that if interpreted literally in English could have some really funny meaning. This session was accompanied by slides on showing the real meaning for the Danish word, the other slide of the misheard word in English

The Sessions

Since there were multiple sessions going on simultaneously during the event, we decided to choose different sessions if there were more than one that seemed interesting as a developer.

Why content projects fail (Dean Barker)

This was not an Umbraco specific presentation, but rather an opinion on why Content projects fail. The headline was : “It’s not because of the developer”, phew I already liked this event! For more information on this session I refer to:

Umbraco Cloud Workshop (Rune Hem Strand, Umbraco HQ)

After enjoying lunch, we headed to the starship building to attend to the Umbraco Cloud workshop & get our hands dirty.

Nowadays, almost everyone in the software world seems to be trying to reach to the “clouds”, and Umbraco does not fall short on this, by providing a “Software as a Service” solution named Umbraco Cloud. Cloud means high availability & failsafe mechanisms, but we already have these with Azure WebApps. So why bother with Umbraco Cloud? Well, it lifts off the IT management responsibility from your shoulders, by providing an all-in-one managed hosting on Azure. All you need to do is to create a cloud website using the provided GUI and your website is ready. You can create multiple instances for development, and testing, and the additions to the Umbraco back office enables you to easily move data & code among environments. You can also download a copy of your website to your local computer & pick up the development there, by following this guide.

Moreover, your website will receive automatic updates for patch releases, after those releases are tested on several test sites. Minor version updates, on the other hand, will not get pushed automatically; but will be triggerable with a click on a button.

Umbraco Cloud is not without its shortcomings though. It does not provide the auto-scaling feature like Azure WebApps do, which might be a deal-breaker for projects that expect very high load. However, the current solution is said to be tested for a "well built" site with about 50,000 unique visitors per day, and performed “very well”.

You can try the Umbraco Cloud for free, just head to their website.

Manage All the Things (Carole Renner Logan - Eqautor - Glassgow)

Since we are quite new at the concept of IoT (Internet of Things), I felt that this session could give more information of what “IoT” really was and how we could introduce it in our projects. The speaker pointed out how they used Umbraco as a CMS to provide content via Web APIs to devices like Amazon Alexa, Video walls, Hotel intelligence and much more.

Umbraco V8 (Stehan Gay, ZpqrtBnk)

One of the most exciting talks for us was on the next major version of Umbraco: v8. Stephan Gay explained the changes being done in the core project, drawing a well-detailed roadmap on what to expect from the next version. It looks like we can expect some fundamental improvements to the codebase, (beware, incoming software terminologies) from dependency injection, to scopes, from caching to event handling.

Main focus on the changes seem to be aiming for more robust codebase, easier maintenance, and smoother addition of cool new features, one of which is the long awaited, and quite needed Variants; i.e., language versions.

Progressive web apps (Matt Brailsford - Outfield Digital)

A very interesting presentation by Matt Brailsford, giving a high level overview of what can be done by progressive web apps. This is actually moving data and business intelligence over to the web browser of a mobile device using JavaScript, data caching client side.

Networking & Community

Although the whole event presented opportunities to network with other fellow developers and talk about who is doing what with Umbraco, or how we are overcoming the problems we face when building websites, the last day was the day to focus on community with open space sessions. In short, these sessions do not have predefined themes by Umbraco HQ, but the community suggests a number of topics at the beginning of the day, and people scatter around and come together on the topics they are interested in. The only rule for the themes was that these sessions would focus on the issues the community faces, both as developers using Umbraco, or as contributors to the project; for example, how the developers could make money out of developing Umbraco Packages.

Goodbyes

In short, we had a great experience, getting to know the people behind Umbraco, taking a sneak peek for future plans & feeling the power of the community around it. We can now easily vouch for Umbraco’s motto: “The friendly CMS”, both as a community full of great & friendly people, and as a CMS to work with, from a developer’s point of view.

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