Code, computers and coffee at the ready! This year’s seventh annual Umbraco UK Festival is set to kick off in London in just over two weeks! In the lead up, we thought we’d give you (our loyal Umbracians - old and new) a little insight into what you can expect for 2016.
Now, you probably think we say this every year, but...this is actually going to be our biggest festival yet! From 3 - 4 November we will be hosting a two-day tech bonanza with a hackathon, five rooms, a community space and naturally a tonne of coffee, snacks and merchandise.
We asked three of our key festival organisers from Cogworks HQ to chat more about what’s in store.
Callum Whyte, Developer
Tell us more about CodeNode, this year's venue...
CodeNode is a modern, well equipped new tech-hub in the heart of London. Based on feedback from previous years, we've worked hard to ensure this venue is comfortable enough to host our biggest ever festival.
What’s the schedule this year? And is it open to everyone?
We wanted to pack as much Umbraco goodness into the day as possible and offer something for everyone (not just devs), so, the layout of the venue has been split into five rooms to reflect the schedule. We will have: a main room, community room (which will showcase some of the best talent in the Umbraco community), eCommerce room, an automation room and finally an Agile room!
Let’s get down to the finer details. Is the rumour about bottomless coffee true?
We've been assured by the venue that we have truly unlimited all-we-can-handle coffee this year! And drinking them dry sounds like a challenge the Umbraco community would gladly take on!
The all day hackathon is back, awesome! What can we expect this year?
In previous years the hackathons are a hyper-productive and collaborative day of adding to the Umbraco Core and this year is no exception. The day before the main festival, 75 developers will have the chance to get together and try to fix as many bugs in the Core as possible. Last year 48 bugs were fixed so we're hoping to continue that trend this year in our biggest ever hackathon.
Josh Condie, UX/Web Designer
Let’s talk theme. What was your inspiration for the 2016 site?
This year, we wanted the theme to run through the entire festival so after some initial brainstorming, we decided that turning the whole festival into a game would be the best way to bring the branding, merchandise and the day itself together.
Instead of going down the typical 8-bit, Tetris and arcade iconography people associate with gaming I wanted to go in a different direction towards indie gaming. Recently the rise of indie gaming has grown and big names now offer tools and open platforms for developers to make their mark on the industry. I think this echoes what Umbraco is about - the system itself allows for an open source community of developers and Umbraco UK Festival is a place to learn and share Umbraco knowledge.
Visually, the games Journey and Monument Valley were my inspiration. I love that while they are minimal in style they still manage to give a stunning and expansive environment.
This year a fox guest stars on the site. Does it have a name and will it be making an appearance on the day?
The fox represents a playable character in our game world. On the site, the concept explores a fox’s adventure towards a shining tower (The Shard) while travelling through the mountains. This symbolises the festival-goers journey towards our festival in London.
Currently, he doesn’t have a name. Maybe that can be one of the games on the day of the festival - to name him (or her)?
What’s up for grabs merch wise and what are these mysterious badges about?
This is where the game theme really starts to connect with the festival! Instead of just getting all the merch for free (aside from the basic goody bag upon entry), this year you can collect badges and stickers each time you go to a different talk, room or complete a certain activity on the day. In collecting them, it’ll give you the chance to explore CodeNode as much as possible and maybe even earn a prize!
As for the badge design, yes you can expect the fox to make an appearance.
Adam Shallcross, Chief Organiser
The biggest and best Umbraco UK Festival is a bold statement. How have you taken things to the next level this year?
Well, this year’s venue is the largest we have ever had. We always listen to feedback from previous festivals and decided to raise the bar this year and address some of the issues we’ve had in the past (A/V problems, wooden seats, small rooms, bad sound, bad visibility and lack of coffee). Unfortunately this has come at a price - we usually go for the most cost effective choice but in order to get a first class venue it has meant a rise in ticket prices.
But, for £100 you will be getting a hell of a lot compared to other tech events out there. Two days of Umbraco goodness (if you include the hackathon), a wide range of great talks across a number of different subjects and also the choice of five hands-on workshops - all with lunch, coffee and free merchandise thrown in. I’d say it’s a bargain!
We make no profit on this event but we love and are actively involved in the Umbraco community so for me, it is definitely worth it. The community is the lifeblood of Umbraco, if there was no community, there would be no product and as it is a free product, I feel it’s our duty to give something back (and I think we do a lot more than most, but of course I’m biased!).
Will any leading Umbraco HQ leaders be attending on the day?
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.
In addition, Warren Buckley and Sebastiaan Janssen will also be on hand for the hackathon to help everyone get to grips with the Umbraco codebase, hopefully creating as many pull requests as possible.
Lastly, it’s not an Umbraco UK Festival without a warm welcome and send off. What’s the after party plan?
It definitely wouldn't be a festival without a few relaxing beers! We have reserved an upstairs space at a traditional London pub just round the corner from the venue for everyone to get to know each other and have some Friday fun!
You never know too, I may even dust off the decks and throw a special Umbraco party set out there!