Let's Talk: Sparking Conversations at Umbraco Spark

Last week the wonderful Umbraco Spark Innovation Conference 2024 took place, and I am excited to say that I was able to attend said event, together with its magnificent pre-party the day prior! Let's talk about how I experienced Umbraco Spark as a first time visitor over in Bristol, and find out why I am eager to return next year! ⚡

Arriving in Bristol 🛬

We're starting off on Thursday, May 7th. The bags are packed, boarding passes are in, and we can head off to Bristol! Together with Leon (Co-Founder of uMarketingSuite) we've met up at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam for a cup of coffee in the early afternoon, survived the security queues, got passed the passport controls, and we were all good to go!

A short flight later we've arrived at Bristol International Airport, followed by a 20 minute drive to our hotel at the Royal Marriott in central Bristol. As it was already getting late in the afternoon we decided to make the most of the hour or so sunlight we had left to take in some of the beauty the city has to offer, including the beautiful Bristol Cathedral right next to our hotel!

Attachment 1. The Bristol Cathedral

After a bit of sightseeing, it has become somewhat of a tradition for Leon and myself to indulge in a good ol' juicy hamburger, paired with one of the other things the British are quite known for... their pints! 😉 With our stomachs filled up, it was time to head over to Roxy Lanes for the Spark Pre-Party, sponsored by Moriyama!

Pre-Party Time! 🎉

Time to meet up with our fellow Umbracians! We arrived casually on-time for everyone that attended the Hackathon that very afternoon to already be present. Roxy Lanes sure is a location worth remembering, as it's a concept we're unfamiliar with in the Netherlands! The best way I would describe it would be a mix between a bar and an arcade, with games like a bowling alley, curling lanes, pool tables, and even a batting cage... let's be honest, who doesn't love the thrill of a cold beer combined with a batting cage?!

It has been a good couple of months since I've met up with a large portion of the UK Umbracians, but I always feel blessed when I see all the familiar (and some new) faces again! Nothing but hugs, high-fives and wonderful conversations to be had on an evening like this. Speaking to representatives from Umbraco HQ, to people who have been a 10+ times Umbraco MVP, as well as wonderful people who've known Umbraco for less than three months to date, it feels like everyone is welcome and included! 🤗

After the crowd was slowly heading off, it was time to follow in their footsteps, head back to our hotel and be ready for a busy day ahead of ourselves!

The Innovation Conference ⚡

We're starting the day with a hearty breakfast and a bright sunny day ahead of ourselves! Arriving at 8:30 sharp at the M Shed in Bristol, we get greeted by a committee of people wearing bright green Umbraco Spark T-shirts and we get handed a goody-bag with a notebook and a collectors T-shirt! Time for a cup of coffee and some catching up to do with various people before we the event starts!

Attachment 2. Leon and I's Umbraco Spark Nametags

The clock strikes nine, let's get started! Our host & organizer for the day, Steve Temple, kicks off the event by going over the various tracks that are happening today, the various sponsors for this year (including uMarketingSuite), and the friendly Umbraco house-rules! After that it's time for our first session led by Lone Iversen & Jacob Overgaard talking about the new Umbraco Back-office, and a great teaser about what's in the works for Umbraco 15+. After a quick coffee break, the program split off to two different tracks to choose from, at which I wished I could clone myself to attend all of them, because they all seemed pretty awesome! ☕

Let's talk about AI in Luke Hook's session about "UmbraCopilot - AI all the things!" going over all the developments in the world of AI, the concerns we should be aware off, and how we can benefit from AI as web-developers and end-users. After that it was Mikkel Keller Stubkjær who took the stage talking about Sustainability at scale with static site generation & composable architecture, and how you can turn your conventional content "pull" strategy from client to content server around to a "push" strategy pushing content from a CMS to a static site CDN. After that, it was time for another break... a lunchbreak to be precise! 🥪

After lunch, it was time for the one and only Matt Brailsford to take the stage, talking about the creation of the Umbraco Newsletter UMB.FYI. With a fragmented community, Matt's initiative that automatically scrapes and collects all community news, tips and events, and ships them as a weekly newsletter through various automations is truly mind-blowing!

Attachment 3. Matt Brailsford with the slide "You don't have to be perfect to be Umbmazing"

After Matt's session it was time for Hannah Smith, Thomas Morris & James Hobbs to talk about measuring your carbon impact on Umbraco sites. With their amazing initiatives to reduce carbon impact they released a brand-new Umbraco package called Umbraco.Community.Sustainability that can generate a sustainability report for each of your Umbraco pages, right from the Umbraco Back-office! Before we head over to another break, we had the glorious Ravi Motha, in style with his bright spark-green hair, talking about the future of Umbraco and what we as a community can do to influence it. After the break it was time for Umbraco HQ's Dan Lister to talk about advancing the Umbraco Cloud Platform, and the changes they went through by ways of their hosting infrastructure.

Unfortunately due to some logistical limitations we weren't able to make it to the final sessions of the day hosted by either Joe Glombek and/or Carl Sargunar, but hopefully I'll be able to get a glimpse of their talks in the future, as they both sounded very intriguing!

Early Departure 🛫

After a day filled with excellent talks we were leaving with a bunch of inspiration and ideas to process. While not being able to make it entirely to the end, being able to attend Umbraco Spark 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 and with whom I managed to have a chat, whether it be a serious conversation or some chit-chatting over a beer! See you at the next Umbraco event! ✈️