Let's Talk: Looking Back at UmbUKFest 2023

Last week the Umbraco UK Festival 2023 took place, and I am thrilled that I was able to attend for an exciting two day program including a hackathon, pre-party and various innovating talks! Let's take a look at the various highlights of my experience as a first-timer over at an Umbraco event in the UK!

Day 1 - Hacking & Socializing

We are starting the event off on Thursday with a Hackathon hosted over at the offices of Hugo & Cat in the Spitalfields district in London. With our arrival the day prior, we were refreshed and ready to go for a busy day ahead! Together with my colleague Leon we were expected at different times, for I was going to be working with code all day, Leon would be attending the UK Partner Summit! Arriving at the perfect time myself to meet with the always-friendly Lotte Pitcher & Callum Whyte in the lobby, ready to figure out together how these overly complicated elevators work! πŸ˜‚

Up on the 10th floor I see a bunch of familiar faces from within the Umbraco community, and some new-comers! After some more introductions and a fresh cup of coffee we were ready to get working on whatever we wish to get done for the day! I chose to put my morning to good use on the Umbraco source-code itself, testing out a couple of code suggestions & bug-fixes put up by some community members. After a pizza-lunch (what's a hackathon without pizza, right?πŸ•), in the afternoon I had the privilege to sit next to Niels LyngsΓΈ, one of the masterminds behind the upcoming Umbraco 14 back-office rebuild. I couldn't let this opportunity go to waste and get to experimenting myself with the new tech-stack which includes Lit, Vite & Typescript!

Attachment 1. Exploring the new Umbraco 14 back-office

After an inspiring day, it was time to put the laptops away and go out for a bit of social fun! From Hugo & Cat we headed over to the BOXPARK, which reminded me a lot of Storms Pakhus over at Odense, Denmark, for those who've been to Codegarden before! Loads of small restaurants to order some food with varying styles from all over the world, ready to eat in a communal food-court with a ton of Umbracians, yum! After a hearty meal it was time to head over to the official pre-party venue over at The Glitch bar. Greeted by an atmosphere that reminded me more of an Arcade than a pub, I knew this was going to turn out great! RC-Car racing, basketball tossing, air-hockey, pack-man, and a game similar to Dance Dance Revolution (remind me to never play against Umbraco's Emma Burstow again, I'm still sore!) made it into a legendary evening! πŸ•Ί

Attachment 2. Winning an RC Car Race at the Glitch bar

Day 2 - Inspiring Talks, Magic & Cookies

After a well-needed night sleep and a hearty breakfast, it was time to head over to the official venue for the Umbraco UK Fest 2023 kick-off! Callum started with the opening words, expressing what we could expect during the day, some general-purpose information about the Umbraco UK Foundation, and the fact that the entire venue eliminated single-use plastics entirely (Well-done! ♻️). It was time to get inspired and learn some new things!

Start as you mean to go on with custom templates - Lotte Pitcher

The first session I attended was that by Lotte Pitcher, talking about the creation of usage of custom templates for dotnet. Being able to quickly turn any project into a template you can use to speed up the creation of starting new projects can be a huge time-saver! πŸ•°οΈ

Astro-nomically performant websites using the Content Delivery API - Louie Richardson

Next up was Louie Richardson, talking about the Astro web framework. Never heard of Astro before, but it sure looks like a powerful set of tools to help you scale your applications using Web Components by structuring your into what Astro calls Islands. Worth reading into! 🌌

Custom property converters for the v12 Content Delivery API - Laura Weatherhead

After that it was time for Laura Weatherhead to shine! Umbraco 12 introduced the Content Delivery API, but what if you want to tailor the content yourself to fit multiple channels and custom properties? Demonstrating the use of custom property converters in combination with a personalization package, we've received a first-hand experience on what's possible in the new version of Umbraco! 🀯

UmbraCoffee with Callum & Marcin β˜•

What is an Umbraco event without some UmbraCoffee?! After a short coffee break, Callum & Marcin kicked off their livestream in front of a live audience to chat about the day so far! They were even so kind to invite me to the stage and have a chat about my experience so far as a first-timer at Umbraco UK Fest! πŸ™Œ

Sadly they also announced that with episode #300 they we're going to take a step back and go for a monthly UmbraCoffee livestream schedule instead of the weekly Friday streams we have gotten used to!

Attachment 3. Making a suprise guest appearence over at UmbraCoffee #300

Building a world class commerce platform through collaboration and composability - Matt Sutherland

After UmbraCoffee it was time for Matt Sutherland's talk, demonstrating how important it is to focus on the client's needs in order to successfully launch any software project. With continuous iterations and collaborations with composable architectures using Umbraco, Commerce, Struct PIM, Azure and uMarketingSuite to build a successful product!

A Magical Suprise by Damiaan Peeters πŸͺ„

Noon came around, and we've been treated by a delicious lunch at the venue. After which, we've been giving a surprise magic show by the one and only Damiaan Peeters, which was thoroughly entertaining! Nothing like a good after-lunch show to break the ice!

Not only that, but I couldn't forgive myself if I didn't include a picture in this blog of perhaps the best salted chocolate chip cookies I have ever tasted, during the upcoming coffee break! πŸͺ

Attachment 4. My newly found addiction in the form of a cookie

Umbraco + .NET Maui - content delivery API Dos and Don'ts - Carl Sargunar

After the illusionist magic, it was time for some .NET Maui magic by none other than Carl Sargunar! During the session he demonstrated how to build cross paltform apps using .NET MAUI, and have the content delivered headlessly by Umbraco to be consumed by an Android, iOs, MacOs, or a Windows application! πŸ§‘β€πŸ’»

Escaping the developer rut - Rachel Breeze

Next up was Rachel Breeze, talking about the tools we have as developers to lift ourselves and others out of the feeling of being in a rut. How to explore your development skills and knowledge to inspire others, and highlighting the importance of taking good care of yourself, physically & mentally!

Optimizing Umbraco Websites for a Connected World - Damiaan Peeters

Last but certainly not least, after exchanging his magic-robes for a hoodie, it was time for Damiaan Peeters' talk on optimizing Umbraco websites for a connected world. With his recent journey to Madagascar fresh in memory, he shared some of the insights he gained during encounters with his colleagues in this unique country. In a place with unstable internet and power lines, the importance of website optimization gets a whole new perspective!

Safe Travels

After a day filled with excellent talks we were leaving with a ton of inspiration and ideas to process. Being able to attend UmbUKfest has been an absolute pleasure, with a well deserved #H5YR to the organization, speakers and everyone involved! Massive thanks to the wonderful community and all the kind people who I've met, who've I came up to and/or who've came up to me to have a chat, whether it be a serious conversation or some chit-chatting over a beer! See you at the next Umbraco event! #NotACult ✈️