Things didn't start too well, if I'm honest, as getting to Umbraco's annual developer conference CodeGarden, which is held in Odense Denmark, proved something of an ordeal. At times, it felt a bit like being in a Lord of the Rings film on one of those never ending journeys. Having arrived at Manchester airport nice and early, Sean [bd2's Development Director] and I had a quiet beer whilst watching the departures screens only to see our plane come up as delayed for a couple of hours.
May as well have another beer then.
When we did eventually get on the plane - bizarrely passing Mehdi another bd2 developer getting off the same plane coming back from Denmark - later than the screens advised, we queued on the runway for what seemed like ages before finally getting airborne.
The knock-on effect of the flight delay, was missing our planned train.
Fortunately, we just managed to catch one of the last trains from Copenhagen to Odense.
Unfortunately, we then discovered that chaos on the railways is not unique to the UK.
The train stopped near Roskilde for about an hour and no one knew what was going on. Eventually we were told the train had broken down and we ended up getting on a train behind us, which took us back to Copenhagen and then out again on a different line. Then that train broke down too. Another train came along which only had two carriages for the six carriages of people on our train. When we eventually got to our hotel it was 3am.
Getting up the following morning at 7am was only made possible by drinking copious amounts of the free coffee on arrival at CodeGarden. The caffeine helped us deal with the over enthusiastic greetings of the 'Umbracians' at the entrance as, to get through the front doors, you had to run between a line of them high-fiving them on each side.
At least we'd made it to the venue, which was an impressive kind of huge barn type building with wooden beams and a high roof. The weather was fantastic and there was a small garden set up with benches and mini deck-chairs so people could sit in the sun and chat.
The first session was on upcoming Umbraco 8 and it’s new features such as a reworked UI, improved performance and more advanced multi lingual support.
The second session focused on Umbraco Cloud and how we could integrating into our processes for seamless web deployment and updates.
The hot topic throughout the conference was security, something which a lot of companies seemed to take for granted, but with the new requirements of GDPR no started, everyone wanted as much information as possible. Given this, I was lucky to get a space in the security course as there was 30 seats for a total 600 people. Meanwhile Sean managed to get a seat in the project management course.
The following day Umbraco announced a new product called 'Umbraco Headless' which serves as an API with no front-end, and can push data to other media, such as websites or apps. The developers at Umbraco decided to show this technology off by announcing their band “Slave & Eagle”, a kind of 90’s style boyband, where they had an application which let you ask through a microphone when the next tour dates are, and it would reply with a response generated by the Headless CMS. Slave & Eagle then gave us a live demo of their singing abilities. With the techie stuff over for the day, everyone let their hair down on and played developer bingo where you could win 'trendy' Umbraco prizes, such as an Umbraco disco ball and roller skates.
Friday's talk was not about Umbraco or even technology, but focused on what’s important when working in the industry, specifically enjoying your job - successful outcomes are easier when you’re happy. After that, CodeGarden attendees debated the event and the subjects which they thought most relevant and any hadn’t been covered by the previous two days.
The journey back was also a little chaotic, but this time the problems were all of our own making! We were well on our way when I got a call from the office to say the hotel had called them to let me know that I'd left my clothes behind. I know, I've no idea how I managed not to pack either. Then Sean accidentally got us on the wrong train which was heading in the opposite direction, so we had a little tour of the Danish countryside before doubling back.
Overall, travel issues notwithstanding, it was a great trip as we gained some really valuable insights into the upcoming technology. We've learnt some in-depth knowledge of security issues, of improving performance in Umbraco’s back office and better methods when configuring Umbraco. Finally, it was great to meet other agency’s and developers to share and discuss our experiences of using Umbraco, which were universally positive as it's a great content management system to implement, from my perspective as a developer, but also as a user judging by all the positive feedback we constantly receive.