By Steve Bentley, Lead Developer at Chorus
This was my first visit to the annual Umbraco conference, Codegarden and I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew it was going to involve lots of Umbraco (at least I hoped!) and be a great learning experience by chatting to so many others than live in Umbraco every day.
One of the first things that struck me was the overwhelming generosity and friendliness of the hosts and other attendees: so thank you to everyone involved and who came. It certainly lived up to its’ slogan as “the friendliest CMS community on the planet”. It was amazing to see people travelling from Australia and the US to come to the event, as well as everyone from all over Europe coming together to share their experiences, knowledge and enthusiasm around everything Umbraco.
I loved how the conference involved a mixture of different formats over the 3 days with keynotes, sessions, workshops, discussions and plenty of socials. Having this mix kept the conference refreshing and it was brilliant to have some hands-on sessions, which conferences often leave out.
Day 1 started with a welcome keynote session covering the roadmap for Umbraco over the next year - especially the features of the upcoming 7.3 release and the introduction of the cloud based "Umbraco as a Service" (now renamed as "umbraco.com").
For the rest of the day and carrying on into Thursday there were a mix of sessions and speakers: some more technical (such as the session on contributing to the core by Sebastiaan Janssen & Chriztian Steinmeier, and "How to develop a killer package" by Lee Kelleher & Matt Brailsford), and others working through case studies (such as Code Computerlove's excellent session on their work for Amnesty International).
One of the best parts, were the workshops covering technical topics in more depth, which gave us the opportunity for some hands-on experience with AngularJS and Merchello. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s often a lack of hands-on sessions in conferences but for me it’s one of the most useful ways to learn.
Finally, the last day (Friday) was dedicated to set of open sessions, which started with an “Open Circle” where anyone could suggest a topic to discuss – fitting around ‘The next 12 months of Umbraco’. Having an open circle meant we could actually shape the event in our own way and it was very interesting to hear what people wanted to talk about. Some of the topics covered included:
We picked whichever session interested us the most and then came back together at the end of the day to chat about our topics in the open circle. I really liked the fact it gave the attendee’s a chance to shape the conference to whatever we would find most useful.
The uBeardsy community! Photo taken by Douglas Robar, Percipient Studios.
The social aspect of Codegarden is one of the things that made it special for me. As well as having the socials in the evening, the whole event had a warm and friendly feel throughout, bringing everyone together to talk about something they love: Umbraco!
The Tuesday and Wednesday evenings embraced Copenhagen with us meeting at the various bars in the old meat-packing district to enjoy a few beers, frankfurters, socialising and occasional dancing. The real social speciality however was Thursday evening…
The Thursday night was an event that people discussed in hushed tones and cryptic conversations. Bingo. Or as it was described on the program: "The infamous Umbraco bingo and dinner". Since returning from Codegarden I've tried to describe what actually took place at bingo to many people, but my words just can't do it justice. The only thing I can say is some words of advice that were given to me before going in - "just go with it".
I love using Umbraco every day and Codegarden gave me a chance to see ‘behind the scenes’ and be part of the community. My next step is to gain Umbraco certification for Level 1 and Level 2 – not only for the training but also so that Chorus can work towards the Umbraco Partner program and become an even closer part of the community.
Oh, and if you really want to know what Umbraco bingo is, you’ll just have to come to Codegarden 2016….