It is no secret that our developers prefer to build websites within the Umbraco CMS. Its ease of use for both development and for content editors makes it our number one choice. So every year we attend the country's biggest and best Umbraco get-together– the Umbraco UK Festival.
For the second year running the festival took place in the beautiful surroundings of the rooftop gardens at the London Barbican, definitely a fitting venue for such a great CMS product. Starting at 9am, there were coffee, tea and pastries on offer to keep us going all morning, followed by a seminar briefing. Throughout the day there were a large number of talks, with 3 or 4 happening at once, so it wasn’t possible to see them all but what we did get to see was of great interest.
First up was a talk by Jeffrey Schoemaker on hardening Umbraco for maximum security. It was great to underpin that Umbraco see security as paramount, and that we implement the recommended security settings and more when it comes to development and our IT hosting setup.
The second talk was Marcin Zajkowski who gave an in-depth talk about testing called "Fail Often, Do Stupid Things, Learn, Repeat" which essentially emphasised the old mantra of "Test, test and test again", one that we are all too familiar with.
Lunch is served, and as is obligatory for a developers' conference it consisted of great pizza with sides of salad and homemade coleslaw… finished off with fruit and curiously mountains of Milky Way bars (it’s the lighter way to eat chocolate after all).
After lunch was a great talk by Fedosja Van Der Lee about making simple modifications to your development to make your editors’ lives that much easier. Some of the great tips included having 'quick links' to the most used operations, such as adding a new blog post. One thing that was impressed through the whole of the talk was that it's important to get to know your client, so you should try to create an editing environment that is tailored for them instead of just providing out-of-the-box functionality.
The next talk was "When Umbraco and Mobile App development combine" by Emma Garland. This focused on the new headless functionality that Umbraco are introducing in the next few months, headless content management. Essentially, it allows an editor to manage content not only for websites, but for other systems such as mobile phone apps and advertising screens. This is an advancement that we will be looking at very closely.
The last talk was the one that everybody came for, the keynote by founder and "chief unicorn" Niels Hartvig. Niels announced that Umbraco 8 is almost ready and will be available shortly, along with the company's vision that by 2021 they want 1 million live sites on the Umbraco platform (currently there are over 510,000 active installs).
As always, Niels was highly entertaining and talked about a number of new version 8 features such as variants, a new caching system, interface redesign, code cleanup and the integration of of the new examine search feature.
All in all, it was another great and informative Umbraco festival. We will discuss some of the new features of version 8 in future articles once we get to play with a stable version, but there's certainly a lot to look forward to for our developers and clients alike.
Craig Pickles, Technical Director, Headland