Enjoy Digital Umbraco Fest UK 2016

Matthew Mirzai
By Matthew MirzaiDeveloper
5 minutes to read

After last year’s success, the guys at Cogworks have gone bigger and brighter for this year’s edition of the Umbraco UK fest. The previous venue of Crypt on the Green at St James’ Church, whilst lending itself to many Umbraco/religion comparisons, didn’t feel like the perfect venue. Codenode is completely different; this glass cube has wide open communal areas, rooms named after keyboard keys and – most importantly – a working Wi-Fi connection.

Arriving into London just after the much celebrated Hackathon had ended, we ate, found our hotel (this time it had windows) and got some rest prior to the main event. The tube was successfully navigated and with coffee cups ready to go and totebags stashed away, we arrived and found ourselves seated in Codenode main hall, pointing out minor Umbraco celebrities like Matt Brailsford and Anthony Dang along the way. 

The welcome presentation was done by Umbraco HQs ‘’Wizard of Epic Communications’ Kris Deminick, who confirmed that life at Umbraco HQ may seem like unicorns and rainbows 24/7, but in reality there’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes in Odense. It’s comforting to know that they are just like us, including the many badly posed photos we take of each other.

Next, we split up and went to our workshops and talks. Some of us dabbled in uCommerce, whilst others went off to look at Continuous Integration. After getting around some technical problems presented to us, we all came away buzzing and ready to apply what we’d learnt to some projects back at base. Watch this space.

Lunch was supplied by The Feel Good Bakery (check them out, they’re doing a lot of good stuff), though due to demand several pizzas arrived soon after. Pizza and coffee – developer heaven! With lunch wrapped up, it was on to the second set of workshops; Tea Commerce, Back Office Customisation and Unit Testing were left for us to tackle. The aim for us all was to tackle as many workshops and presentations as possible, and at this point we had almost done them all.

One talk I want to mention in particular was Marcin Zajkowski’s discussion on how you can get involved in the wider Umbraco Community, and in being part of a like-minded group can make you happier personally and professionally. He also gave us tips on how to become an Umbraco Unicorn.

This year there was a new feature – the Community Room, where various speakers could take 5-15 minutes to talk about something small related to Umbraco that they wanted to share. The setup allowed a lot of variety in what was being presented, and we got a broad spectrum of approaches that people take to development work, so I’m hoping that this feature continues.

Wrapping the festival up was the Niels Hartvig, who’s keynote speech highlighted that we should remember that we are part of the ‘Friendly CMS’ group, and to help each other out where possible – Umbraco is now the biggest open source CMS. There was also a brief glance at the rebranded Umbraco as a Service, now titled Umbraco Cloud; one of the benefits being that you can deploy a site whilst being drunk on an airplane. This should convince anyone to jump on board.

What you notice throughout the day is the sense of community. Sat with my laptop looking around there were informal groups sat on the sofas just chatting – we like to talk about things other than development. We were all encouraged to talk to the guys from Umbraco HQ and Cogworks – it was a very friendly atmosphere. No one was trying to sell anything or force you to use their product – it’s a very open and clean environment to work in. And judging by the amount of Umbraco paraphernalia people had on, clearly the community cares for Umbraco just as much as they care about the developers.

Taking the late train home back to Leeds, trying to soak in everything what we’d seen and learnt that day, there’s a lot of potential with Umbraco that we can use. There’s new technologies and features that I’m personally very excited to use and add to future projects. Here’s looking to next year’s festival.

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Articles by Matthew Mirzai

Matt has 10 years experience in the development field and is a back end developer here at Enjoy Digital, specialising in Umbraco (and Mario Kart!)