The Evolution of the Content Team Trello Board

By Agnes Darricau

In our ever increasing digital world, it has become possible to be in the office without actually being here. In our case, with offices in London and Poland, and even some employees working remotely, having a cohesive shared platform accessible to all members of staff simultaneously is key. 

As a company, we opted for Trello and to be honest we are all slightly addicted to it! Some of our staff members even have their own Trello boards outside of work (one of our colleagues even used a checklist for planning her Thanksgiving dinner…right down to the turkey basting timings! No comment...).

I was introduced to this wonderful tool when I first joined the company as a Content Editor two years ago, now I wonder how I ever survived without it! It is so easy to use - it’s flexible, intuitive and even fun!

Version 1

In January 2014, our Trello board was very simple. We only had three editors and were only working on two main projects.

To give you an idea, it kind of looked like the screenshot below with the standard ‘To do, Doing and Completed’ columns, typical of a Kanban board where the team completes an item and then picks up the next available task from the top of ‘To Do’. Then, everything in ‘Completed’ is reviewed before the card starts the cycle again. It seems very basic but it is a useful way of categorising and prioritising our tasks.

The number of clients was increasing rapidly so we started to recruit more Content Editors. Six months ago, we reached a record number of 19 people in the Content Team! More clients, more projects and more staff meant more columns on the board. 

Adding labels

As the ‘To do’ list became too long and our priorities were continually evolving, we realised the importance of streamlining our work by dividing each project into a separate column. Since not all cards needed to be worked on at once, we also started a labelling system to make it clearer which cards were ready to be picked up. In a way, it gave the editors more insight and independence.

With the new system in place, whenever an editor became available, they would only need to glance at the Trello board to determine which cards could be moved to ‘Doing’. It also provides a nice colourful visual indicator that shows the card’s status such as ‘Blocked’ or ‘Urgent’.

A great induction tool

As our team grew, my role as Head of Content became challenging and I found myself repeatedly explaining processes and answering the same questions. One of my colleagues recently said: "it feels great to explain something you fully understand, helping someone can be really satisfying, but after explaining the same thing a thousand times, it gets boring." And it’s true, not only was it becoming tedious, but I also realised I was not giving the same level of detail to all new starters when I was presenting the job to them. 

Induction is crucial for new starters, so I thought, ‘why not use Trello as a training resource?’A few days later, the ‘New Starter’ board was born. It contains every bit of information I need to give to the new editors on their first day. 

One column for office routine information (such as dress code, cleaning schedule…Yeah, we do have one... lunch breaks etc), one for our main clients and stakeholders and another one for the tools we use, including: Slack, Harvest and Trello. 

There is a card introducing the office staff with pictures as some of them work remotely, it's nice to put a face to a voice. There is also a card for the abbreviations we use in the office and I can tell you, I would have paid good money for such a card when I began! ‘Those SKU codes are TBC on the PPT but don’t worry just do what you can on the SK CMS and the ODPC’ would leave anyone quite perplexed as you can imagine. 

We even recently introduced a WTF card! Wait, it’s not what you stands for - What is Trello For. Most editors starting at The Cogworks have never used this tool before so it breaks down the basics for them. From how to use the board to how to make a card prettier, it covers all tips! If you’d like some advice on how to format your cards, here is a guide with everything you need to know. 

Beyond the induction board, we improved our Content board by adding a ‘Neverforgetme’ column where we keep all design templates, mastercards, guides, PDF documents etc. From now, whenever someone needs a specific document, my colleagues and I can easily send them a link to a card.

Ultimately, I find it useful to use Trello as an induction tool because it gathers in one place all the basics seasoned employees take for granted, it is structured and less formal than usual paper inductions. If you are a Manager or Head of a team, you should try it!

A constant evolution

Our Content board has evolved so much over the past two years, from the original three columns to the intricate nexus of 20+ columns and numerous cards, it has become vital for us to keep on top of our own processes. Adding relevant labels and tick lists to cards, keeping track of deadlines, naming attachments, creating and archiving columns, even keeping card titles up to date helps maintain the smooth flow of the board.

However, as with everything, there is always room for improvement, so we decided to set up a Trello catch up meeting every two months to discuss and review our own use of the board. Having recently discovered the Trello Power Ups which enable different ‘plugins’, we found the ‘Card Aging’ one particularly useful for our bi-monthly catch ups as it greys out any card which hasn’t been used in a long time. This makes it easier to spot cards which need to be updated or archived. We love it!

In 2017, I would like us to try the Slack PowerUp. It would allow the Content Project Managers to get a direct reminder on Slack about specific cards. Even with a highly organised team and effective processes, it can still get a bit confusing with over 150 cards on the board!

If, like us, you are a Trello fan, we recommend you pay a visit to their blog section as they always give great tips and it is nice to keep up with the new features they release! LifeHacker goes a step further with their interesting article about how to organise your entire life with Trello and we couldn’t agree more! 

The internet: a look back in time (Part 2)

A very brief history of online form development - Applying for Nationality

By Will Parker

In this post I explore how the web has grown and evolved with a particular focus on online forms. In particular, one form - the forms to apply for Nationality. How has the internet and easier availability of information and online forms changed how Governments and companies interact with their audiences? What does that mean for us as web developers?

First, a quick question...

Q. What do Ireland and Canada have in common in 2016?
A. Due to Brexit and Trump votes, their respective immigration websites have both recently buckled under the weight of users trying to find out more about how to become an Irish or Canadian citizen.

The early part of my digital career was spent working for the UK Home Office and Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). I was a part of the team responsible for developing the first content managed IND website, which replaced the original site shown here. 

Image: Home Office, taken from August 16, 2000

Image: Home Office, taken from August 16, 2000

Contrast this then with the content managed site that I worked on:

Image: Web Archive

It is not hard to see how the site rapidly evolved from something basic, to something we would now recognise today.

Getting the application forms online

The simplest way to put the forms online was to digitise the printed versions to .pdf versions. It may not sound revolutionary in 2016, but in the early 2000s - and for the UK Government - it was. 

I managed to track down the office where the forms were printed - a side street off Horseferry Road near Millbank. It took me about five minutes to explain what I needed. The printers were already skilled in the digital publishing software Quark, so it wasn’t too much effort for them to digitally scan the original versions and re-create the forms so they could be exported to .pdf. As it turns out, the technology had been there for years, it was just no-one had ever created the forms as formal .pdfs.

So the result of my work came down to CD-rom which I manually carried back to the Croydon office. Whilst email was up and working then, I don’t think the Government Secure Intranet (GSI) email exchange would have coped with the file size attachments!

Applying for nationality - NOT a quick question!

Looking back at the history of passports - the first ones were issued during WW1. 

And during the research phase of this article, I came across the archive of naturalisation data from the national archives. Fascinating to see that historic nationality application form data has become a national archive. Does that mean then that in 200 years time my passport application data will be available for my great great grandchildren to read?!

For most of the 1900s, the application form was printed and distributed by the Home Office. The application process was then elongated by the fact that the applicant first had to get hold of the correct form through which to apply.

Its interesting to consider (perhaps in another forum) just how pre-internet standards allowed for Governments to control the application process. By limiting the availability and volume of application forms, the number of applicants could then in theory be more tightly controlled. No doubt Migration Watch can advise if this form of control was ever actually applied, but that ponder is best left for another time!

Although, quite possibly by the 1980s the advent of CD ROMS meant some forms were likely to be accessed more easily, however, it was the internet that really offered a change in the way immigration applications took place.

With the original content managed website for IND around 2000, for the first time ever, it was easy for everyone to access the immigration rules. The democratisation of information enabled applicants to better tailor their application. It’s little surprise that within a few years of the internet and the birth of online Government communication, various countries around the world enacted Freedom of Information Acts, legally enshrining in law that all information held by Governments be accessible to the public. In other words, the model of the internet has pushed society to improve the law and democratic access to information. Such is the power of the internet!

Back to online forms...

While the 2000 IND website version was essentially a book cover linking to a content sitemap, the 2005 version had an underlying information architecture, structured in such a way that users could more easily find the content they were looking for. Knowing the popular content on the site allowed us as site managers to develop quick links to sections that we knew people would be looking for.

My work at the Home Office resulted in the first IND website where users could -  FOR THE FIRST TIME, read plain English instructions and guidance notes which would allow them to apply for British Nationality. This replaced the old system of writing or telephoning the department and asking for the forms to be sent via the post. 

It made me immensely proud to work on delivering a step-change to how Government delivered its services. 

Now to 2016 and how does the application form process look now? Well it’s interesting to note that not much has changed since 2000:

  • The form is still only a .pdf download
  • Users are now directed to I was also involved in the Government’s website rationalisation programme within the Home Office which resulted in shutting down and moving content from 100s of small Government websites that were created in the early days of the internet to one central government website portal. 
  • Accessibility standards have improved. There are no more ‘click here’s’  or text as graphics and the .pdf format is now accessible so that disabled users can complete the form offline.

So why don’t Governments have online forms for applying for Nationality?

As experts in Umbraco form development and the internal e-CRM system our client uses, we’ve got lots of valuable experience in developing online forms, but it’s still a challenge to get right every time.

An example of a form to apply to win a competition...

For this form to work, we had to configure our CMS templates to work with the e-CRM system our client uses so that the form data is securely entered into the client’s database. Then alongside opt-in clauses, we also had to ensure our code complied with EU legislation on data protection.

This form and campaign probably wouldn’t work if the form was not online. Consumers don’t have the time or inclination to print out a form, complete it and send it back. In some markets this competition is running as an ‘instant win’ campaign. This would be impossible to deliver if the form was a .pdf that needed printing and sending via snail mail.

So why don’t Government’s make things easier for potential citizens and allow the application process to be entirely online? I suspect that there are few reasons:

  1. The cost of re-engineering the entire end to end application process to run online is probably quite restrictive. Government IT projects are notoriously problematic to deliver, as the Home Office and UK Government are acutely aware (see NHS IT failures as an example).
  2. Making the process even simpler and quicker may be undesirable in the current immigration climate.This is controversial, but cannot be ignored. At a time when the Government is concerned about ‘uncontrolled immigration’, making the application process easier to complete is probably bottom of the priority list.
  3. There’s an inherent fear of data security breaches from both sides. Governments will fear that providing services online will mean a loss of data security. Equally users of Government services are extremely weary of the information they give to Government agencies. 
  4. The application process is not simple, requiring multiple documents which may take time to compile. The applicant would need to create a secure login where they could store partially completed applications.  
  5. There are still no formal ways of providing ‘official documents’ in a digital form, nor formal Government databases where this information can be held and available to the applicant. For example, applying for a passport requires the user to submit a photo, countersigned by someone else. Working out how that part of the form could be authentically and digitally reproduced would require Governments to have a way of digitally recognising and authenticating its citizens. Whilst there are various unofficial ways this has been previously set-up, there is no nationwide database of citizens nor a “digital ID card” which would enable the Government to validate counter-signatures. Interestingly, on researching this further I see that is now offering an online verification service for use across a number of existing government services. 

As the above shows, there are not insurmountable barriers to bringing the end to end nationality application form process online. We know from working with our commercial clients that the technology is there. Users are increasingly growing accustomed to completing online forms. As the consumer becomes more comfortable providing their data in online forms, the expectation of Government service provision will heighten. I believe it is only really a matter of time and Government inclination before the nationality application process becomes fully web enabled and it will be interesting to see when this step change will emerge. If any Government offices out there are interested in developing their nationality application process online, we’d love to help achieve that. We await your call!


The making of #umbUKfest

By Sam Bailey

Neil Armstrong once famously said, 'one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,' and for us here at The Cogworks, it's the same mentality we apply to our annual festival. While the making of our biggest ever Umbraco UK Festival this year was no easy feat (there may have been a few thousand cups of coffee consumed, a series of boardroom chats, a lifetime thread of Slack conversations and an endless debate over pens and vegetarian pizza) the Umbraco community is worth it. It's a massive highlight for us and every year we are continuously re-inspired and reminded why it’s worth it. 

But, just like freshening up a site - each year we have to edit and redefine our offering to give the festival a new edge, concept, design and overall revamp (especially if we’re going to call it our biggest, best pressure at all!).

So, with a ‘game plan’ in place (literally!) we were straight into figuring out the logistics of how we were going to create something amazing for our community.

We won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details - instead here’s a fun sneak peek at key moments from The Cogworks HQ during the festival’s lifespan. 

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into pulling off a Umbraco UK Festival, this is it…

Note: no fun was had in the making of this festival whatsoever...

1. We turned to unicorns for inspiration...

Image: Marcin Zajkowski

Image: Marcin Zajkowski

2. We ate a lot of donuts

3. We sent our devs on a shameless PR spree

4. We drew a lot of foxes

5. We wrote a lot of pages and bound a lot of books… 

6. We got our swag on

And got a little lost along the way...

7. We borrowed a colleague's Polish friend

8. And recruited some Polish models too

9. We played ping pong when you weren’t looking…

10. And posed like rock stars...

11. We ran everywhere…

12. And played paparazzi

13. We got game and took on the Unicorn

14. Then celebrated with the boss

15. Then one of us stayed out late 'hosting guests' (because someone had to right?). 




HQ takes the hot seat

By Sam Bailey

You’ve probably seen them online, you may have even been played spot the celebrity at the festival with them and you would have definitely seen their talks if you came along to our Umbraco UK Festival this year.

But just in case you didn’t score a unicorn badge by talking to Niels, we thought we’d break down the barrier and get up close and personal for a chat with our friends at Umbraco HQ.

After all, the best way to hear what they thought of the festival was to get the feedback straight from the unicorn’s mouth.

Little did they know what we had in store! 

Taking cues from Oprah, our Social Media Manager Sam invited Niels, Kris and Per to the hot seat (aka plush arm chairs at CodeNode) to get their take on the 2016 Umbraco UK Festival.

Along the way, Sam ended up in an arm wrestle with Chief Unicorn, Niels (an innocent attempt at a high five/hand shake gone wrong), Kris delighted over our fancy badges and made a plea for a ‘Kris badge’ and Per declared it the best festival ever (and he’s been to all seven!).

Needless to say, our impromptu interviews with HQ ended in a lot of good banter and compliments all round. To find out what they had to say, tune in below.

Niels Hartvig

Kris Deminick 

Per Ploug

*Disclaimer: no one was paid during the course of this interview - the love was real. Oh, and Anthony’s guest appearance was unplanned...note to self: next year find a less transparent backdrop.



10 reasons why we love the Umbraco community

By Sam Bailey

Image: Percipient Studios

Image: Percipient Studios

The Umbraco UK Festival is nothing without its community of loyal attendees. 

The best part of our yearly gathering is having the opportunity to catch up with you during a hacking session, pizza break or pint at the pub to talk over the latest Umbraco news. 

There’s always a sense of friendliness online and in real life that mirrors Umbraco’s claim as ‘the world’s friendliest CMS.’

During the 2016 festival, the outpouring of ‘high fives’ we received was yet another nod to this amazing community spirit. So, we’ve decided it's our turn to share the love back. Here’s ten of the reasons we love you all (as inspired by the day). 

1. You're an honest bunch

Inspiring snippets overheard at the festival...

"This is a safe space right? I have a confession...I like flow charts!" - Barry Briggs. 

"It's a bloody website, it doesn't have to be NASA level, just get it out and working." - Pete Duncanson

"The Get Shit Done book embodies our values and rings true to how we approach Umbraco as a business." - Kris Deminick

"We are not a bunch of d***heads, spend time on stuff that makes a difference to the editors and is not 'just cool.'" - Niels Hartvig.

2. You know that everything can be understood more easily with a meme

3. You don't let a festival get in the way of fitness (or fussball)

4. You're fans of the fox

5. You don't want to miss out, even if it means sitting on the floor

6. You won't let a challenge get in the way of a good badge

7. You know good food when you see it

8. You've got those Umbraco jokes down pat

9. You know that beer = bonding time

10. AND you're dedicated to the Cog cause!

A big thanks to our blog reviewers too!  

Matt from Enjoy Digital - Enjoy Digital Umbraco Fest UK 2016

Kris from Umbraco HQ - Umbraco UK Fest 2016: Simple is the new black

Mike from Dare West - Inside the UK's Biggest Umbraco Event 

Emma from Radley Yeldar - Umbraco UK Fest 2016: Second Largest Global Umbraco Event


We're going on a bear hunt

By Ismail Mayat

On Wednesday 16th November, after being stuck in traffic at Bolton for 45 minutes I finally made it to rainy windy Huddersfield to the world famous Media Centre (okay that may be a slight exaggeration) to attend the third UMBX workshop with 12 other delegates from the north of England.  

Now before I begin, let me first preface, it wasn’t a real bear hunt, no, it was a lot less scary than that but perhaps equally intense - it was a training day that may have involved a ‘Bear the load’ course...

For those who haven’t yet heard of UMBX, it’s a community driven initiative that was recently set up by two Umbraco heavy weights -  Jeavon Leopold (Thrice MVP and creator of a crazy number of packages) and Lee Messenger (MVCForum) also core contributor to Merchello.

The idea behind UMBX is to provide small workshops to seasoned practitioners to plug the gaps in Umbraco knowledge.

The current offering is three (yes that’s right THREE) workshops in one day:

  • Merchello

  • Bear the load

  • Azure with Umbraco

In this post, I’ll fill you in on what was covered step-by-step and also what the mysterious bear hunt involved...

It begins...

After a few mandatory projector teething problems we were off on a full throttle journey into geek land...

First up was Merchello with Lee. Merchello is an open source eCommerce offering that I first glimpsed back in version 1, now it’s at version 2 and already has come a long way. In the space of three hours we covered a lot of material on the basics of configuring and setting up an estore, including:

  • Installation and configuration

  • Product catalogue setup

  • Category setup

  • Product collections

  • Merchello datatypes

  • Working store and cart

There was a lot more, but due to time constraints we were unable to cover it, so we were left with some homework.

After a quick break we moved straight onto taming bears, also known as the ‘Bear the load’ workshop. This workshop covered balancing a flexible load in Umbraco. And how does this involve bears? Well, we used a teddy bear picnic as the example. To do this we all fired up an Umbraco instance that talked to a shared database in Azure, then we looked at the umbraco server table to see who was elected as master bear. The winner won a baseball cap (as modelled by Matt Perry below.

It was a brilliant exercise to demonstrate the Umbraco master election and the result was easy to show but you could tell a lot of work was put into the exercise designed by Jeavon.  

We then swiftly moved onto creating different load balancing scenarios with local testing. We covered some new Umbraco API features namely custom ICacheRefresher (used to notify slave servers in a cluster to update their cache) and custom ServerRegsitrar (used to manually elect a master in a cluster).

Image: A.G. BARR

Image: A.G. BARR

Soon after lunch followed, consisting of sandwiches and cans of Dandelion and Burdock. All us Northerners were very surprised that Lee - ‘a Southerner,’ had never even heard about the wonder that is Dandelion and Burdock, let alone tasted it. Pete Duncanson (Offroadcode fame) and myself made it our mission to introduce him to it.

After lunch it was straight back into it with our third and final workshop - ‘Azure with Umbraco.’  

In this workshop, we looked at all the goodies available in Azure and Umbraco that enable you to create a scalable website:

  • Azure specific configuration

  • Redis for session state

  • Deploying to Azure webapps

  • Azure blob storage for media

  • Azure blob storage for Examine (welcome to the future ;-})

  • Azure table storage for log4net

  • Azure CDN

  • Multi region deployment

To end...

Just like that, the day had flashed before my eyes. My overall impressions? Umbx really is an amazing initiative run by the community to plug gaps in our Umbraco knowledge. The workshop materials were very professional - full colour manuals printed on good quality paper and the swag was second to none - t shirts, stickers, usb sticks AND baseball caps.

The thing that really came across the most was the amount of time and effort put into the workshops and during the delivery you could see that the workshops were being delivered by trainers with deep understanding of the subject matter due to real life experience.

The best bit is that you get all of this for £120.

Image: Peter Kay and Amelia

Image: Peter Kay and Amelia

It’s an absolute bargain, I recall Dan Lister saying: “this is the best course I have ever attended.” A few of us even suggested to Jeavon and Lee £120 is a disservice to what you actually get (the price could definitely be higher).

After finishing up a few of us went out for a well earned curry - anyone who knows me will tell you I’m quite the foodie. If you are ever in Huddersfield you have to visit Kabana. Friends had highly recommended it and Pete had previously tried their food at Huddersfield Mela (fair) where they regularly won the curry cook off. We were not disappointed! Food was top notch and at £15 a head a bargain.

Lastly, to satisfy our sweet tooth we popped into the new gelato place Ice Stone Gellato, I went for the Falooda.

The place was very busy with a huge selection of desserts and ice cream including Redbull flavoured ice cream! Seriously wrong on so many levels.  

We were then regaled by Pete on how he broke his arm in multiple places a couple of years ago when he made his own bobsled by cutting a wheelie bin in half and sliding down a very very big hill at over 30mph.

Overall, (as I’m sure you can tell) I thoroughly enjoyed UMBX and highly recommend it. So, if the UMBX bus comes rolling into town - beg your wife, boss whoever and get yourself onboard, it’ll be the best £120 you ever spent (*price may vary over time).

PS, there are rumours that additional workshops on other niche topics may soon be added.


Unexpected love from the community

By Sam Bailey

Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

In an exciting new twist this year, we introduced the first ‘Community Space’ to our 2016 Umbraco UK Festival. A rather fitting addition to compliment the ethos of the festival (an event run solely for the Umbraco community) and we were intrigued to see how it would go. 

Perhaps the more intriguing question that came out of it in the end was - ‘why did we not do it sooner?!’. As such a knowledge rich and passionate bunch, it made good sense to hand a space over to you - the community - to share what you’re passionate and knowledgeable about!

Not wanting to meddle too much with the organic concept, we set a 15 minute time slot per speaker and away they went! From mental health through to best grid practises, the topics were diverse but all warmly welcomed! We hadn’t really known what the reception would be like, but at the end of the day so much unexpected love came flooding in on Twitter, confirming to us that the ‘Community Space’ should definitely make a comeback next year. 

Due to the informal nature we didn’t record the sessions, but those who missed it, here’s a brief overview of who was involved and what was discussed...



Image: Percipient Studios

Image: Percipient Studios

Bringing a new topic to the tech table at this year’s festival, Ravi Motha, Umbraco MVP, part time giraffe and joint organiser of Umbraco London Group Meetup discussed the importance of mental health. His talk: ‘Taking care of you’ focused on the need for developers to take better care of themselves and to reach out in times of need. 

“I’d recently started to notice incidents where professional athletes (who use their body as their means of income) were called out for being out of shape or were caught doing things that were detrimental to their overall performance,” says Ravi. “It got me thinking, if you’re a professional athlete you would treat your body well by dieting, training and not smoking but as professionals we may not look after our instrument (brain) as well as we should.” 

In the talk, Ravi highlighted the current prevalence of mental health disorders (one in six have a mental health issue) and gave suggestions for things we should do to make ourselves feel good and supported. A worthy and important discussion to our community space. 

If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at Ravi’s slides

Also, if you’re looking to make friends, gain support and become part of the Umbraco UK community, join us at the next Meetup!


Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

Emma Burstock, back-end developer at Radley Yeldar came along and shared an overview of her recent experience at CODE CABIN. During her talk, she reflected on the key themes of the retreat and what she had learned.

The first subject in her discussion was about the ideal Umbraco site set up and the importance of architecture and scalability in a good build. She encouraged developers to think big scale and gave a great example, explaining how even a dog walker deserves a site that has the potential to have a global reach.

She then touched on ReactJS and AngularJS and let the conversation open up to a debate amongst the audience, allowing all those who are new to either technologies to learn from the experts in the room. Lastly, she discussed her key highlight from CODE CABIN - the Ditto workshop and explained how it has made her job as an Umbracian so rewarding.

To read more about Emma’s talk and experience, check out her blog review live on Radley Yeldar.


Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

Anders Burla Johansen, our Tea Commerce workshop guru took some extra time out of his day to talk through the ‘Best practises for version 7 and the grid’ with everyone. 

In the talk, Anders ran through best practises for Umbraco as offered on his site, and explored the back office giving key pointers on the grid. 

While only a brief introduction, he has revealed to us, he will be running a more advanced session next year titled: ‘The Umbraco Grid on Steroids,’ so stay tuned for more from Anders in 2017.


Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

Darren Ferguson of Moriyama ran a practical training on the Azure Umbraco search, a cloud based scalable implementation of elasticsearch – which is quite easy to deploy and manage once you know how.

In the presentation, Darren provided a method which took people through how to get Umbraco content and Media Indexed into Azure search and how to make queries against the resulting indexing – including faceting and other complex search scenarios.

The code from the demonstration is available here on GitHub and includes some improvements suggested during the talk.


While this is just a taster of what’s got the community talking, if learning more about our Umbraco community interests you, check out our developer Marcin Zajkowski’s recent talk from the festival on ‘Community driven self development.’ 

Image: Percipient Studios

Image: Percipient Studios




Why Umbraco UK Festival was THE BEST ONE EVER (in your words…)

By Sam Bailey

Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

300 people, 35 pull requests, 100 pizzas, 1 million coffees and a whole lot of ‘geekery’ (as Indra Sarkar put it) - just some of the formula that went into making 2016 the best Umbraco UK Festival ever.

Now, three weeks on, as we retire our orange lanyards for the year it’s time to take a moment to celebrate with you - our loyal Umbraco community and sum up just what made it such an awesome day.

Twitter tells us that you had a merry old time, so we decided we should leave the story telling to you, sharing highlights from the day through your eyes.

Without further ado, here are the highlights, as told by you. Oh and if we didn’t say it already, #h5yr!

The community spirit

The talks

“We have been with Umbraco since version 3 and now are planning to upgrade to version 7. I have learned some neat tricks from Per’s talk which we will undoubtedly use!” - Nick Gardener, Cobham.

"I liked the talk that Theo Paraskevopoulos gave on personalisation. I have a personalisation project coming up so it’s always good to have a relevant one to a project you’re doing." - Carole Logan, Equator.

"I enjoyed the talk about Umbraco as a service - it’s a good concept. At our company we don’t use it as a service, but they said it makes it a lot easier if you use it that way. So it might be a case of thinking about it for the future." - Joe Bolla, WPN Chameleon.

The venue

The kid friendly swag

The celebrity encounters

The pizza

The plug accessibility

The bottomless coffee (although maybe too much of a good thing?)

Coffee pee.png

The beard presence

Photo credit: Percipient Studios

Photo credit: Percipient Studios

The IRL interaction

I work in Umbraco every day so it’s been good to come along and enjoy the social side and catch up with the people you talk to online all the time but don’t usually get to meet in real life. - Carole Logan.

The nap time after

Oh, and that awesome product...what's it called again?

The live talk lineup from Umbraco UK Festival 2016

Were you watching our Umbraco UK Festival Twitter feed live from home, crying into your coffee wishing you could have joined us for our BIGGEST EVER Umbraco UK Festival? 

Well, don’t worry beloved Umbraco community, we’ve got your back. While the festival may be over for 2016, we’ve been hard at work compiling all the news, info and talks from the day (complete with slides too).

You’re welcome.

The Lineup...

Inside the engine room: working at Umbraco HQ - Kris Deminick

Ditto Vs Modelbuilder - Lars Erik Aabech

For the slides, click here.

Community driven self-development - Marcin Zajkowski

For the slides, click here.

Designing for the gap - Barry Briggs

For the slides, click here.

Show me the money: personalisation in digital finance - Theo Paraskevopoulos

For the slides, click here.

Run your apps in docker containers on Windows - Naeem Sarfraz

For the slides, click here.

The Strategy Journey: from mission to transformation - Julie Choo

For the slides, click here.

Packages and your data on Umbraco as a service - Soren Spelling Lund

For the slides, click here.

How "Doing Umbraco" is business and not just code - Pete Duncanson

For the slides, click here.

Umbraco as simply as possible - Per Ploug

Keynote - Niels Hartvig



The 2016 Umbraco UK Festival

By Adam Shallcross

Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

What do you get when you cross 300 attendees, 13 talks, 8 workshops, 6 rooms, 1 hackathon and unlimited coffee...Why the Umbraco UK Festival of course!

And WOW, what an event it was this year! 

If you didn’t manage to attend you can get an idea of the atmosphere by watching Kris Deminick’s fantastic opening talk - Inside the Engine Room: Working at Umbraco HQ. You could almost taste the community love and excitement in the room!

The Hackathon

The hackathon this year was held on Thursday, the day before the festival, and started out as a nice pleasant room, but quickly became a hot, coffee and pizza fuelled sweat shop. To quote Anthony Dang, “It smelled like developers,” which I guess is the sign of a hard day's work!

The day is always a great event in itself, helping the Umbraco HQ squash all those niggly bugs and issues that they don’t have time to fix.

With around 65 attendees coming and going throughout the day, the event was a great success with 35 issues fixed and 26 pull requests completed.

The day ended with majority of the attendees going for a well earned bit of R&R to a local watering hole to let off some steam and get to know the community better. It seemed we had most of Scandinavia and in particular Denmark with us in a pseudo viking invasion - which was great to see!

The Main Event

This year’s event was held at the awesome CodeNode near Moorgate in London. The venue, designed specifically to run tech events, is a vibrant and collaborative workspace that fits well with the Umbraco ethos.

Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

This year we decided to split the day into a couple of streams - one for beginners/newbies and one for more advanced and experienced developers. We also threw in a smattering of business non-techie talks for good measure. 

Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

A major feature across the day was the addition of a wide range of workshops which gave everyone the opportunity to get stuck into a good selection of subjects including: Umbraco property editors, continuous integration and Agile project management techniques.

The Mystical HQ

One of the highlights of the day for me was having Kris Deminick from Umbraco kick off the day. Kris delivered a fabulous introduction to Umbraco HQ and what they do to maintain the platform we know and love. It was a great insight into the team behind the product and demonstrated that there is indeed a huge amount of resource and effort that goes on behind the scenes. 

Image: Percipient Studios

Image: Percipient Studios

Contrary to popular beliefs surrounding open source projects, it's not just a bunch of developers in a basement bashing away at their keyboards. There is a whole ecosystem of support, planning and partnership management going on behind the scenes to keep Umbraco moving in the right direction to ensure it’s progressing and continues to be one of the best .NET CMS’s in the marketplace.

Keeping it Simple

An unofficial and unexpected theme for the day was the ethos of ‘Keep it Simple’. Some of the highlights included:

- Per Ploug showing us how to keep it simple when developing with Umbraco by removing unnecessary complexities and steering clear of complex frameworks that add extra bloat and levels of abstraction where it’s not needed.

Image: Percipient Studios

Image: Percipient Studios

- Pete Duncanson delivered a thought provoking discussion around Umbraco why ‘it’s not just code’, it’s about the business side of things as well as how keeping it simple helps clients understand what is good about Umbraco.

- Niels Hartvig, as always, delivered an inspirational and insightful view of where Umbraco is now and where it’s headed in the future. He also touched on taking development back to basics and keeping things simple as well as the power of the official training course, whether as an experienced developer or not, it’s great to keep things consistent.

Image: Percipient Studios

Image: Percipient Studios


All the workshops were really well received and oversubscribed, we even had some people sitting on the floor just to get in!

We also had some amazing feedback in particular for the ‘Continuous Integration and Continuous Development’ workshop run by our very own Alejandro Ocampo and Callum Whyte. 

Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter


So all in all a fantastic day was had by everyone who attended. An amazing venue, great food and great conversation, showing once again how strong and amazing the Umbraco community is in the UK.

Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

A big thanks to everyone at CodeNode, the speakers and workshop hosts and also The Cogworks team without whom the day would definitely have been a lot more chaotic! 
As an event, the festival goes from strength-to-strength improving each year we organise it. We always listen and take on the feedback (both good and bad) to make the next year’s event even better.

Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

Image: Skills Matter

It takes an enormous amount of time and effort to put on, but we love doing it as it is a chance to bring the UK Umbraco community together - and as the UK community is the largest in the world, we think it is well worth it! It is the community that makes Umbraco special and drives the platform, the festival, the local meetups and the addition of other events can only make it stronger.

Thanks to all of you for coming and we all look forward to seeing you again next year!