Why this year's Umbraco UK Festival will be different!
by Sam Bailey
When you hear the word Umbraco, the one key thing that comes to mind is community.
Each year there are a few Umbraco festivals held across Europe that offer the opportunity for knowledge sharing and a chance to get together socially with like-minded Umbracians.
While there could be a debate over which festival reigns supreme (we’ll leave that with you), what is different this year is that leading Umbraco Gold partner The Cogworks are hosting the largest Umbraco UK Festival in its seven-year history.
This will mean 325 spaces are available for eager Umbracians to come along and mix with some leading lights from the Umbraco HQ, whilst providing a whole lot more opportunity for socialising, camaraderie and general community spirit.
Got an idea? Bounce it off someone. Can’t fix a glitch? Ask one of the Umbraco experts. Need to show your latest Umbraco dance moves? Join the after party and demo them over a few beers! You get the drift.
And, it’s because of the awesome Umbraco community, that The Cogworks as festival organisers, have been able to take things to the next level and offer more talks, more rooms, more coffee, more workshops and the famous Umbraco UK Festival hackathon.
‘This year’s venue is definitely the largest we have ever had. We usually go for a cost effective venue but it’s always had its limitations - A/V problems, wooden seats, small rooms, bad sound, bad visibility and lack of coffee etc,” says joint CEO of The Cogworks Adam Shallcross.
“So this year we decided to raise the bar and address some of those issues, unfortunately though in order to get a first class venue with all the facilities we need comes at a cost. However, for just £100 a ticket you’ll get a hell of a lot compared to other tech events out there.”
And because The Cogworks truly love the community it’s all done out of love, not financial gain.
“We make no profit on the event, in fact we make a pretty big loss as we don’t budget for the time and resources that the festival eats up as a company. And believe me, we have the whole team of 25 of us on this at some point, attending regular meetings, planning sessions, brainstorming, design etc,” says Adam.
“But we love the Umbraco community so it’s worth it. They are the lifeblood of Umbraco, without them there would be no product or great community packages, so I feel it is our duty to give something back (and I think we do a lot more than most, but I’m biased!).”
And give back they have - if the venue is anything to go by.
“CodeNode is a modern, well equipped new tech-hub in the heart of London. Based on feedback from previous years, we worked hard to ensure the venue was comfortable enough to host our biggest ever festival and this definitely fits the bill,” says Callum Whyte, The Cogworks full-stack developer and part-time event organiser.
As a two-day event, there is a dedicated hackathon day and a festival day but also more workshops & talks targeted at different skill levels all included within the ticket price.
“We wanted to pack as much Umbraco goodness into the day as possible, whilst also offering something for everyone (not just devs) through a mixture of talks and workshops,” says Callum.
“The layout of the venue is split into five rooms: the main room, the community room showcasing some of the best talent in the Umbraco community, the eCommerce room for a workshop showdown from the three big names, our automation room to learn some top CI tricks, and finally our Agile room!”
And there’s the all-day hackathon - a prelude to the festival and a noteworthy addition that continues to resolve more issues every year.
“The number of bugs fixed each year has been growing. Last year 48 bugs in total were fixed during a day of hacking and this year will be no exception. You can expect a hyper-productive, collaborative and fun day, helping to keep the Umbraco Core in tip-top condition,” says Callum.
“75 developers will have the opportunity to sit down together to scratch their heads and help to fix as many bugs in the Core as possible. Be it a typo, pixels of padding for a text box that may not align correctly or maybe something more quirky - all fueled with developer favourites: coffee and pizza!”.
Some key representatives from the Umbraco HQ will also be on hand - including Warren Buckley and Sebastiaan Janssen, to help everyone get to grips with the Umbraco codebase, hopefully creating as many pull requests as possible.
On the day of the festival, the Umbraco HQ will also be in attendance to update the community on the latest Umbraco news.
“It’s amazing that Niels and Per make the commitment to come pretty much every year. This year, Niels will be presenting the keynote and Per is going to be taking us through the HQ’s recommended way of creating a site in Umbraco. In addition, Kris Deminick will also be revealing what the mythical world of the Umbraco HQ actually do on a day to day basis.”
Aside from the main program, The Cogworks can reveal there will also be a new twist on the merchandise and branding.
“This year, we wanted the theme to run through the entire festival. So, after some initial brainstorming we chose a gaming concept that will run through all branding, merchandise and the venue itself,” says The Cogworks UX/Web designer Josh Condie.
“Instead of the usual Tetris and arcade iconography associated with gaming, we’ve gone in a different direction - the indie gaming industry. Within that industry the big names give open platforms and tools to independent developers. This echoes what Umbraco is about - an open source platform and a community of developers.”
“The illustrations on the site show a fox’s adventure towards a shining tower (The Shard) in the mountains. This represents the festival-goers journey towards our festival in London,” says Josh.
There’s also an interactive element to shake things up and create even more community engagement.
“Instead of getting all the merch for free this year (aside from a basic goody bag on entry), as the festival goes on you can collect badges and stickers by going to different talks, rooms, and various other activities on the day. The aim of the game is to explore as much as possible and even earn some prizes.”
And as for the mysterious fox? “He is a playable character in our game world and is a developer on his way to the Umbraco UK Festival, so you can expect him to pop up on the day making an appearance on the badges and merchandise,” says Josh.
And don’t worry, what will be making a traditional comeback is the annual after party. Except there will be one difference this year, compared to usual post-festival bashes...
Rumour has it Adam may be taking things up a notch on the dance floor: “I may dust off the decks and throw a special Umbraco after party set out there!”.
And who wouldn’t want to take some well-earned screen free time and indulge in a few beers and Umbraco themed tunes with the community? All playlist requests welcome!
For more information on this year’s event held on 3-4th November, see the Umbraco UK Festival website. Looking forward to catching some Umbracians in London!