Umbraco UK Festival 2019 highlights

Chris Dent
By Chris DentSenior Developer
6 minutes to read

This year’s Umbraco UK Festival was my first time getting involved in the Umbraco community and, based on my experience, certainly won’t be the last.

We had a packed schedule of talks, demonstrations, and workshops and left feeling eager to put into practice everything we’d heard. Here are some of our highlights from the day.

Party and community introduction

As with any festival, there’s always a party going on. For Umbraco UK fest it was the night before the main day and was Umbracians’ (their collective noun) chance to mingle.

But it wasn’t all about socialising and having a few drinks, there was plenty to look forward to the next day.

The big day

The festival was held at Hoxton Docks and as soon as we walked through the door we had armfuls of swag. From t-shirts to reusable branded coffee mugs – it was great to see sustainability in action at the festival. In fact, everything single-use in the venue was recyclable so not only is Umbraco the friendliest CMS, but it’s also an ethical one too.

Welcome to Umbraco UK Festival

The day kicked off with a welcome talk by Callum Whyte and the first thing I learnt is that Umbracians are very serious about their favourite CMS. Callum showed us pictures of Umbraco tattoos and mountains of swag before making it clear that Umbraco is definitely not a cult. Which sounds a lot like something a cult might say…

Aside from potentially being recruited into a cult, I also learnt that this was the 10th Umbraco UK Festival. To celebrate, this year’s talks and topics were all chosen by the community to make sure that attendees got the most out of the event. The “friendly” attitude they all work towards strikes again.

The tools of our trade - Lifehacker, Umbraco edition by Sebastiaan Janssen

The first talk of the day was by Sebastiaan Janssen, who works at Umbraco HQ, and was all about using different tools and techniques to make our lives as developers easier. It’s always good to hear from other developers about what they use, how they work on a daily basis and why they prefer one program over another. And after all, who doesn’t love playing with new toys?

His talk was full of recommendations for his favourite software programs. Some I had heard of and used before such as LINQPad, but, for me, the talk was worth it just for his endorsement of git client, Fork. I was already on the lookout for an alternative to Sourcetree, so when he suggested Fork, I was over the moon and downloaded it at the first chance I got. So far I am not disappointed!

During his talk, someone called him a “useful nerd” and I’d have to agree. Thank you, Sebastiaan!

Globally resilient Umbraco websites by Callum Whyte

Event organiser Callum Whyte gave an insightful talk about geo-redundancy. He explained how to make an Umbraco solution globally available and how best to achieve this with minimal latency. His solution? Azure Front Door.

He demonstrated how Azure Front Door can manage and distribute a single Umbraco instance to multiple servers across the globe in order to serve a user in the fastest possible time.

He also explained that although a server might be geographically closest to a user’s location, it’s not always the best option. Azure Front Door performs background checks to ensure that the user will always be served by the server with the least amount of latency, even if this server isn’t necessarily closest to the user’s location.

Another useful process Callum explained was how to achieve a continuous deployment with Umbraco Cloud and Azure Front Door. He demonstrated how triggers could be set up on a successful build within Umbraco Cloud to deploy the package to Azure Front Door. This would then distribute to all servers in the environment, ensuring all changes and features are rolled out globally within a few clicks.

This was a really insightful talk and I’m glad I attended. It’s given us a lot of food for thought on how to deliver speedy websites for users.

My dream for DI in Umbraco by Lars-Erik Aabech

Going into the talk by Lars, I had already heard that it had some useful information and was well worth hearing. I wasn’t disappointed.

Lars’ talk centred on the importance of writing strong, maintainable code that uses interfaces and abstractions in order to future-proof code as much as possible.

He made some very informed arguments about how dependency injection and abstraction can reduce the strict relationship between modules. This will mean that they are much more easily interchangeable in the case of a change of environment or specification.

Debugging the brain - Laura Weatherhead

After a morning of intense dev talks, I was ready for a change of pace. I was really interested to see there was a talk about how to understand the mind, better understand why we get stuck when problem solving, and how to overcome it.

I think all developers have struggled with a difficult problem which seemed easy to solve after taking a break and coming back to it 10 minutes, an hour or a day later.

Laura’s point was that understanding how our brains work can help us to be better developers. Laura highlighted that there are many factors that contribute to mental energy and by managing our time, sleep and even our diet we can help our brains focus. She said that finding balance is important and not to push ourselves too much and to know when enough is enough.

The advice Laura gave was really useful and will definitely help us overcome slumps.

Round up

Overall, my first experience of the Umbraco community and Umbraco UK Fest was nothing but positive. Everyone I met was friendly, the talks I attended were all excellent, informative and well-presented, and organisation of the event was brilliant.

One of the best things about the Umbraco community is that we don’t have to wait for national meet-ups to learn from each other. I’ll be certain to get involved in the Leeds meet-up and look forward to putting what I’ve learnt into action.


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