Codegarden 2024

Once again, Codegarden has come and gone and I wanted to reflect on my time there and some of my favourite talks.

Every year of my 3 years attending Codegarden has been a completely different experience!

In 2022 I was a first time attendee, and it was the first one back after the pandemic and so I was just soaking up everything that makes the conference so special. One of my highlights was heading to the Business Summit on the first day and having a number of people already know who I was—including Director of DevRel Emma Burstow who thought I was already an MVP! The Friendly nature of Umbraco really hit me after my first year.

2023 was an exciting year as it was when I was awarded as an MVP! It was also just after the Sustainability team had launched and we got to hang out in person. I spent a lot of time celebrating with people, chatting and generally attending the "hallway track" as lots of people refer to it.

This year was different once again as I was speaking! My session "Green Code: A Blueprint for Eco-Friendly Websites" was accepted back in March (on my birthday as well! 🎂) and I've spent the last few months putting ideas and slides together, recording code demos and practicing ready for the big day! But more on that later...

A trip to Storms and the pre-party

Once I'd got checked into my hotel, a group of us headed over to Storms which is tradition around Codegarden. It's a beautiful old pakhus (warehouse) that has been converted with bars and food vendors. I would typically go for a burger from Burger Anarchy, but I spotted a new fried chicken place and tried a mac and cheese chicken dish—highly recommended!

As always, one of the highlights of the whole week is the pre-party held on Tuesday night at Umbraco HQ. This year's theme was the 90s and I decided very quickly that I wanted to be one of my favourite 90s film characters... Wayne Campbell! 🤘

Rick and Matt at Umbraco HQ wearing matching black "Wayne's World" baseball caps and black tshirts

A photo of me and Matt Brailsford (Commerce Tech Team Lead at Umbraco) in our matching Wayne's World outfits at the pre-party

We also got to participate in the Drinks Pull Request and I brought some locally brewed beers from the place where I had my wedding reception!

One of favourite things about the pre-party is being able to catch up with people before the main conference, seeing friends that I've not seen for a while or even making new ones!

I also loved the addition of the Rave Cave this year and think it should become a permanent fixture at HQ.

New MVPs, diabetes tech, green talk and musical guests

On Wednesday the conference officially kicked off with the keynote from CTO Filip and Director of DevRel Emma. With v14 having just being released, this keynote felt a bit less roadmap-y than previous years and more moonshot-style announcements, along with some numbers.

We then welcomed a record 23 new MVPs which included a good number of people who I know or have worked with! Congrats new MVPs! #h5yr 👏

A group shot of all of the new and renewed MVPs who could attend Codegarden this year, smiling at the camera from the Codegarden stage

All of the new and renewed MVPs who attended Codegarden

Then it was time to decide which talks I wanted to see... tricky! I opted for Bjarke and Elitsa's "What's cooking in Umbraco 13 and 14", which was a nice recap of some newer features, and I really loved their presenting style.

After this, I ducked out to go and see George Bidder's "The Bittersweet Reality of Diabetes Tech: Navigating Accessibility and the importance of testing", which I have to say was probably one of my favourite talks of the whole conference. George showed examples of diabetes apps she has to use every day to provide potentially life saving insulin to her, and how they have multiple testing and UX failures, likely due to the lack of involvement from actual people with diabetes.

I first met George at the Umbraco Community Team days back in September 2023, then heard her speak as part of the business event at the UK Festival in November 2023. I don't think we've heard the last from her!

After lunch—which felt better organised this year, and with a bit more variety of food—I headed to see Ronald's talk on Umbraco Deploy. He outlined how you could use Deploy and how it works under the hood; one of my biggest takeaways is that you can take all the content from an Umbraco 7 site, export it and then reimport with Deploy into Umbraco 10+ with all the data type migrations handled for you! This is a great option to have alongside both uSync and ProWorks' migration tools.

Then back to the Social Space for a coffee break! We also had a Table Talk all based around the topic of sustainability. Since the Sustainability Team launched we wanted to know what the community thought about the topic and their experiences, so it was great to talk to folks! The main theme that came out of it was "what does good look like?" so we'll be taking this back to our team for more discussions.

A wooden picnic bench style table surrounded by people. Some are facing the camera and some have their backs to the camera.

Photo of the Green Table Talk from Amy Czuba

The afternoon brought another one of my favourite sessions, "The Late Afternoon Backoffice Show" where front end team member Niels Lyngsø was joined by guests Lee Kelleher and Markus Johansson. It was a great overview of some of the major changes in the new backoffice. This session was so much fun, Niels is a great host and the backing band made it even more awesome!

Finally, it was time for dinner and the Umbraco Award show. It was great to see so many different sites nominated and some very deserving winners, although I am still slightly gutted that we had less interest in the Green Award compared to last year.

After this I headed back to the hotel for one final run through my talk for the next day, and get a decent night's sleep!

Package it up, v15, green code and bingo

Thursday morning I walked up to the venue, grabbed a coffee from the coffee cart and headed to the Theatre for two talks I was looking forward to.

First up was Nathan from HQ talking all about Workflow. I have used Workflow briefly when it was Plumber but not since it was acquired by HQ, and I really enjoyed Nathan's talk. He showed off a concept he came up with for content versions, or Release Sets as he named them. You can work on a version of a page and set it for release on a certain date, all whilst still being able to work on the live page. Under the hood I imagine it's similar to a segment that gets swapped on publish, but the editor experience looked great. I already pestered Lasse (CMS Product Owner) and Bjarke (Head of CMS) to consider this for inclusion.

I grabbed another coffee and headed straight back to the theatre for Laura Neto's "Let's package it up!". Laura became an MVP last year with me and released her first package (DeliveryApiExtensions) along with her colleague Vitor in December 2023, right around the time I was looking into converting my site to use Astro. The main draw is that it gives you strongly typed models when generating a TypeScript client to use with the Content Delivery API, which makes developing JS-framework sites a dream!

Laura Neto on stage giving her talk. Behind her is a pull-up blue Umbraco banner and a brick wall illuminated by pink lights. To the left is a projector screen showing her slides.

Laura Neto giving her talk "Let's package it up!"

Her talk was a great dive into what it takes to release a package, and some of the feelings that go along with it—what if nobody uses it? Luckily they did release it and the community is better for it, as some of our work with Astro might not be in the same place it is now!

After another coffee break, I headed to the Unicorn stage for Lasse's "What's coming in 15 and beyond". Lasse had asked me to get up and share a few minutes about the Sustainability team and what we had achieved over the course of the year. Thankfully, getting mic'd up and sharing on that stage calmed my nerves a little bit for later, and we got a big cheer when I said that the Sustainability package was one of the first to support v14 on day one.

On stage during Lasse's session all around v15 and beyond

On stage during Lasse's session all around v15 and beyond

Lunch came around quickly again, and I decided to take a little bit of time before my session to relax and have a very quick tidy up of my slides—mostly for transitions! I caught the tail end of Heather's "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" talk which was very good and covered some great stuff we forget from time to time when continuing to bolt on to existing sites.

3pm hit and I got my laptop set up in the H5YR stage, mic'd up and ready to go. Not going to lie, my nerves were spiking a bit but as soon as I was introduced by Nina I was raring to go and got straight into the swing of things. There were some minor tech hiccups in the middle where the screens stopped working, but the AV team got things back on track very quickly and I picked up again.

A full conference room with two large projector screens on the back wall, featuring a bright green slide, Rick's picture and text introducing Rick. He is stood on the stage at the bottom.

Me on stage giving my talk, "Green Code: A Blueprint for Eco-Friendly Websites"

My talk mainly covered the Low Impact Manifesto, which states that a low impact website:

  1. Does not load any images before they are actively requested by the user.
  2. Minimizes the power consumption on the users device.
  3. Adapts to reflect the amount of renewable energy it’s currently running on.
  4. Informs the user of the impact of their browsing behaviour.
  5. Does not make use of videos.
  6. Stores data locally on the user’s device to minimize data transfer.
  7. Compresses all data to the greatest extent possible.
  8. Loads only the most crucial programming scripts, frameworks and cookies.
  9. Limits the amount of light emitted by the screen.
  10. Optimizes and limits the use of custom fonts.

As soon as the video is available I'll update this post to include it.

I think one of the most encouraging things after the talk were the fact that people had questions, and lots of lovely friendly folk came up afterwards to chat more in depth about the topic and how they can have an impact where they are at, which is exactly what I had hoped for. The aim of the talk was to help people if they only had 30 minutes to make a difference on their site.

With the talk over, and my heart rate back to normal, I grabbed a beer and headed to play some hammerschlagen before the evening programme started. I was sat with my colleagues from Wattle during the bingo, which I cannot disclose anything about, but needless to say the night was a little wild.

A circle of community members stood around a tree stump playing hammerschlagen

Watching some community members play hammerschlagen

A pink flag with an illustration of a unicorn, reading "Unicorn. Open source, open heart!". In the background is the Codegarden conference out of focus

The only photo I took during bingo...

One of my favourite parts of the Thursday night is when the tables get taken back and the space right in front of the stage is turned in to a rave. I had switched to water at this point but danced the night away until we were kicked out of the venue at 1:30am. Lots of people carried on at Proud Mary's, but I headed back to the hotel...

Hacking and travelling

Friday morning was a little bit slower. I usually try and get some coffee beans from Brød in the centre of Odense, and managed to get two large 1kg bags in my checked luggage! I also tried to head to McDonald's for a bit of breakfast but was shocked to find they don't do it!!

Grabbed my bags, dropped my suitcase at the train station and headed back to DOK5000 for the final morning where I joined the hackathon. I started taking a look at some open issues around the Block Grid in v14 but didn't have loads of time to get things done. It was a very quick morning and as soon as that was over headed back to the train station to catch a standing-room-only train to Copenhagen.

I caught up with Candid Contributions which happened after we left and got a nice little shout out from Amy and Emma about my talk, which was lovely to hear.

Security was a little crazy at Copenhagen airport but we managed to get through in good time, grabbed some food and then straight onto the plane! We had a little North of England contingent travelling together including Matt, Phil and Matt & Lucy which was nice!

And so ended my time at Codegarden 2024. As I said up top, this year was definitely a different experience for me as a speaker, but I absolutely loved it!

I even made it to the official aftermovie!

Hopefully see you all at another Umbraco event sometime very soon.