Developer Diary: CodeGarden 2018


It’s that time of year again, when I try and describe the indescribable that is Umbraco’s developer conference, Codegarden. Every CG experience has been different for me: 2016 I was totally new and didn’t know anyone at all. 2017 I was giving a talk and was awarded MVP (still trying to believe it) and then now at CG18 I was lucky enough to be in Odense a few days early for the codegarden retreat. Here's a wee overview of another awesome CodeGarden.

Day 1

As has become a tradition, we started off Day 1 with #cgRunners, a social run around Odense in our “Running Headless” tees. 

Arriving at the venue we were greeted by high fives from the HQ team (big shout out to them, their hands must have been so sore from 600 high fives!) and a chance to pickup our name badges and a cup of tea. Can we agree that my nails matched my badge perfectly?...

As always the first timeslot of the day was assigned to the Keynote. “Oh no… Niels has made a motivational video” appeared on screen. It featured Umbracians, including myself, explaining their first CodeGarden and how welcoming the community is. Despite my awkwardness (check out the video when it becomes available), this is pretty awesome to say you have appeared in the keynote! The message was to be yourself, be friendly and of course, to be Matt Brailsford.

Between this video and speakers later in the keynote presentation, I was really inspired by the increased visibility of women in the community in this years keynote. In an industry where you rarely see role models like yourself, this is so important. Thank you to Umbraco for making it an environment that allows us to be ourselves, it’s been awesome to see the positive changes in last few years :)

Then it was the chief unicorn’s time to take to the stage and let us know what’s happening in the world of Umbraco. First up, MVPs! I was so happy to see so many awesome developers up there getting their awards for core contributors, meetup organisers & helping out people on Our. This is all on top of their day jobs, #h5yr to the MVPs! Here's a full list of MVPs and renewals, thanks again Umbraco 💜

We then got some demos of awesome things happening in the community from the newly formed Community Pull Requests (CPR) team, the documentation team, Dave W’s Tours Editor & Umbraco Cloud.  Then it was on to the big Umbraco announcements: V8 preview, Headless public Beta & LetsEncrypt in Umbraco Cloud… lots happening in Umbraco!

Later in the day we had a session discussing the retreat and what we built. Finding myself on the mainstage at a conference (even for 5 minutes) is something I never thought would happen… one of many “is this really happening?” moments of the last year. When I reflect on just a few years ago I remember in CG16 having to use all the energy I had to make myself brave enough to go in to the open space circle to suggest a topic. Although I was having a real tough time with confidence this year, I know how lucky I am to have these opportunities and I try to remember how much I have developed rather than concentrating on how far I have to go.

I took a time out from sessions to try out a new addition to CG this year, design your own t-shirts! I am usually just happy to get a conference tee that fits me, never mind being able to design my own :) 

The last thing in the schedule on Wednesday was the Umbraco awards. To my surprise I was asked to help judge this year! This was good fun seeing the awesome projects submitted and getting to award the prizes to the winners. I managed to resist saying “la la land” ... although apparently one of the winners didn't realise at first due to my accent!

Day one ended with a boat trip and party at the venue but I decided to leave early. With it being my 3rd CodeGarden I knew how long a day Thursday can be starting with run club and going on til after the famous bingo!


Day 2

#cgRunners :)

There were so many good talks to attend today, kicking off with Shannon and Stephan’s look at v8. It was cool to get info on some of the architecture and tech decisions happening behind the new preview of v8 including a clean up of old code, updated lucene version and latest .Net Framework 4.7.2.

This year there was a lightning talks stage where speakers gave 15 minute talks. I attended one of these sessions seeing Sofie from HQ discuss Documentation, Eleftheriachat about 100 days of code and Ravi's talk on why talking is good for you. I like this format and it's a great way for new speakers to get experience or to try out a new topic.

Next up was The Lee & Marc Show, with Lee Kelleher & Marc Goodson. They were discussing “Applying Atomic Design to Umbraco” with the help of puppets. For both the content and humour, I would suggest catching the video of this one!

I was super happy to be attending a talk: “Umbraco beyond recognition - An Umbraco tale of business rejuvenation” because one of the speakers was my friend Mark McDonald! Proud pal moment seeing him give his first conference talk, which was discussing a cool project on gradually rebuilding and replacing a complex system (with Umbraco, of course).

Pete Duncanson’s talk on speed optimisations for Umbraco backoffice was really interesting (and funny, of course). Some items he described as obvious, explaining “the obvious is only obvious once it’s pointed out to you”, and some were really cool ways to optimise.

After a karaoke break it was time for dinner and bingo. Now comes the part of the conference it’s hard to explain when you come home: GDPR interpretive dance, 80s inspired umbraco song, dancing bunny, Danish hip hop and bingo, of course.

Day 3

#cgRunners, all 3 days again this year! Woohoo!


For the first time since I have been attending there was a talk on day 3. A session by Alexander Kjerulf that was super motivational. He discussed the importance of businesses caring about their employees happiness, being grateful and generally being friendly. Great start to the day.

Aswell as run club, there was also regular yoga breaks this year by Kris Deminick. This is such a cool addition to a tech conference, we sit all day often hunched over a laptop and this is a reason to relax our muscles and minds. Note to self, yoga in skinny jeans is hard.

Next up was BetaGarden, a chance for people to sign up to give short demos on packages and extensions to Umbraco they have built. As I saw the names of volunteers I realised that in my 3 times attending Codegarden I had never seen a woman participate. The guys who volunteered are so awesome and many of them are friends… but when I am always going on about “you can’t be what you can’t see”, I couldn’t not put myself forward for it. Plus I had something cool to show: a custom area for controlling Alexa devices and requests within the CMS we built at Equator.

So, I found myself standing at the side of the stage wondering why I do this to myself! I actually had shaky hands and thought my legs were going to collapse. Maybe it was because it was impromptu or because I was conscious being so different to the other participants.... Anyways, I done my demo, I don’t remember at all what I said, I managed not to faint. Let’s take that as a win, eh?

Then it was time for the traditional open circle from day 3. The floor is open for suggestions for topics to be discussed in smaller circles. I attended the circles on inclusion and making our more usable.

Then it was time to say goodbyes, high fives & hugs to everyone for another year. I know I say it every year but I leave so motivated to learn more, build more and generally get to know this friendly community a wee bit more. Here’s hoping I can make it next year @ #CG19.

As usual, say hello on Twitter if you have any feedback :)