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As a testament to how awesome the Umbraco community is, I felt the need to have share my Codegarden experience. I love this community and there are some who deserve so much thanks from me for making this trip possible this year. You see, I actually had no intention of going codegarden16 this year. I know, what was I thinking? The decision had more to do with the fact that I have had a lot of life changing events going on in the past few months and the expense of the trip is just out of my reach this year. Needless to say, I had been keeping an eye on the speaker list for the conference to check out the lineup of awesome speakers and I sent out a tweet just stating how I’d love to go this year but maybe next year I’d make it. I had no idea that it would turn out to become a hashtag on twitter, #getblaketocg16. @drobar asked me why I couldn’t make it and to be quite honest it was lack of funds. We all know it is expensive to travel. Then @umbraco got involved retweeting that if I could make it over they would find me a place to stay. Well “The Dutch Guys” saw this and almost immediately offered me a place to stay with them at “The Dutch House”. I seriously owe so much more than the thanks I can give to these guys who made this trip happen for me this year. Thank you so much Arnold, Richard, Martijn, and Jeroen for letting me stay with you guys and making this trip happen for me this year. I truly appreciate it.
Codegarden15 was just the beginning of quite a few “firsts” for me, including things like presenting in front of an audience, traveling overseas, and attending Umbraco conferences. However, codegarden16 has added a few more new experiences to my list. I’ve never traveled alone before so I was extremely nervous on the flight over. I don’t do well with anxiety and it gets to the point where I almost want to just go home and hide, so getting my ass on the plane was a big step for me. The trip over was long and made even longer by all the delays and the fact that by the time I arrived in Copenhagen, my luggage was still hanging out in London. This made for a nice long waiting session at the baggage claim to get my luggage that was on the next flight over. Fun stuff, let me tell you, especially when I could’ve been hanging out at HQ! Once I got my luggage, I hopped on the train, fell asleep and woke up at Odense (jet lag sucks). It was a little late, dark and cool outside but I started the short walk towards HQ. As I got closer I figured out the noise I was hearing as I turned the corner was from all the Umbracians hanging out outside of HQ! There were a ton of people pre-partying! I was so happy to have made and immediately started checking out Arnold’s car that he had vinyled with the Dutch Umbraco User Group info and it looked pretty sweet! After stowing my luggage, I made some rounds of passing out free hugs and long overdue hello’s to my friends! I was so stoked to have made it over in one piece by myself. Once I made it inside HQ, I was really impressed with how nice it was in their space. I’ve never visited HQ before and it was nice of them to open the doors up to us to come party. There are 3 stories and glass walls everywhere and there was also a hidden ladies room, thanks Niels! The back room was huge and it appeared to be an old engine room that was just crowded with people and a bar. The wall was loaded with all sorts of lights and switches. I’m not exactly sure what that used to power or if it still does power anything but it was cool to see. Upstairs were desks where I assume the magic happens, you know that is what developers are good at, magic! The third floor was home to the pretty fantastic foosball table. I had to check out the action going on there, I love foosball! Not too long after last call I headed back to the house with the the dutch guys in the official duug car. Lucky for me Odense is small and everything is so close so we were home within 10 minutes and I was passed out within the hour. That day of traveling wore me out.
The first morning was tough (let’s be honest it was more than just the first morning), I love sleep and getting up with only a few hours of sleep was pretty rough for me but I managed. There are some who came farther than I did, I can’t imagine how tired they probably felt. In the mornings the dutch guys liked to jump into the ice cold pool to wake up. I however slept through these festivities because that is just crazy. The pool was freezing and I don’t know how they were able to handle that. After getting ready we grabbed breakfast at the gas station by the house and headed to the venue. First let me say, breakfast at a gas station is something else on my list of firsts. In the states, you don’t eat gas station food (at least where I’ve been), unless it’s a last resort and if you have to eat it, I hope you have an iron stomach.
The venue this year is very much in sort of an industrial style area. There are a few nice walks around though and parks as well. The venue itself was huge! The team did a great job in setting up the venue too, I hear they were there till about 4AM working on setting up everything the days before the event! Their hard work showed though, the venue was very well laid out and put together with the multiple areas for talks, coffee, drinks, and some fake grass outside made it nice to hang around. Walking into the venue you had he entrance room on the left, the lounge, coffee and swag to your right (got to get the swag) and continuing on you had the bar area in the middle, the backroom on the left off to the side and in the back of the venue you had the main area. There was a very strong theme of wood this year. They built so many accent items and neat light shows to accent the areas too. There was plenty of room for everyone and plenty of room to grow. They made a good choice moving the location to DOK5000 in Odense. If I had any gripe, the only thing I could say is that it is a bit far from the airport and not being a native, I have a hard time with navigating the trains. Maybe we can get a map or a guide to navigating the area in detail at a later time?
Day one kicked off with a Keynote speech from the chief unicorn himself about where Umbraco was going and the features upcoming and let me tell you, if you missed this, watch the videos when they come out. There are some really great features being implemented in the core in the next few versions and version 8 sounds very nice too! Spoiler alert, nested content is coming to the core too (YASSSS)! If you haven’t used this package you should definitely check it out. It is a very powerful, simple way to add some more content into your doctypes while keeping your content tree organized. All the sessions and from what I hear all the workshops were really great this year. I didn’t attend the workshops as they cut into a lot of the session time but I loved the talks that I attended, there were some really great talks about personalization with Umbraco from Janusz Stabik, Andy Butland and Theo Paraskevopoulos. I’ve seen Theo speak a few times prior to this and he really does an excellent job at this subject and these presentations really tied well into each other. There is also a really good talk from Sebastiaan about how they run the Umbraco open source project and yours truly got to submit her first pull request on stage (it was all Sebastiaan but I love that he gives me some credit)! I was happy to help out by being the guinea pig for this since I’ve never actually submitted a pull request before. To be honest I find it completely intimidating and I had no idea what I was doing. I thought it was more complicated but as it turns out, submitting a pull request is actually pretty easy (so my time was very brief) and I really think the hardest part was getting everything installed. I tried git for windows originally but it didn’t appear to be working on my machine so Sebastiaan had me install Git Extensions and that installed everything that was needed in order to do my first pull request! Check it out if you are interested in learning how to contribute, it is pretty easy to get started, take it from the newbie!
The food was quite excellent and the after party the first day was a lot of fun. Those of us from the states, I feel like I can speak for most of us when I say this, were a little concerned yet mesmerized by the crazy log nail game at Heidi’s bar. I don’t know if you have seen this, but it is a log, with some long nails that you hammer into the log with 1 hit at a time. I think the rule is you can’t aim at the nail, you just set the hammer down next to it and try your luck with accuracy or try to look macho and hit it hard but that seemed to result in missing more often. Slow and steady wins the race! I know when I walked into the bar I was curious to see what everyone was standing around looking at and when I saw what it was I was just like “what the hell is this?”. Nails and hammers don’t belong in a bar back home; it would probably result in a lawsuit of some kind. It was pretty entertaining though, it kept a good bit of drunk people entertained for quite a while, I know I stayed out later than normal mostly watching the nail game and chatting with people. A good time was had.
You know what they say about bingo night… well all of it is true! Ridiculously random craziness and it was nothing short of that this year. I still didn’t win but the prizes to be had were pretty cool (you see what I did there?) and the grand prize was a pretty epic Umbracula castle bounce house. Talk about epic! Seriously though, what happens at bingo stays at bingo so this is just one of those things you have to experience. It is worth it. I actually managed to stay out pretty late this night and eventually around 1AM everyone had enough to drink that they started dancing and that was entertaining! I need those this girl can’t dance songs, you know the ones that tell you what to do for the steps cause I’m no good at dancing, though I think I just need some lessons from Erica, she is a free spirit!
The third day was composed of the open space sessions. These were really great and the community had some great talks to share. I finally got to attend one of Bob’s infamous work life balance open space sessions. I find this one a big priority in my life now that I’ve transitioned into working from home, I really need to find that balance. It was good to hear how other people work and handle their balance and that they have similar issues that I face as well. It is refreshing. I also attended the skrift.io open space and the making codegarden better session. It was nice to have some community input and see those being heard and giving feedback and suggestions. This community is so open and while there were a few things this year that some were not fully supportive of, the event really turned out to be very nice and fun as always. If there is one thing you can count on, it is having a good time, meeting new people, and making more friends. The final day is always full of goodbyes and hugs to those new and old friends that you will have to come back to visit again next year! Safe travels to all as you make your journeys from across the globe and I wish you best of luck in navigating and short layover times! Personally, I totally failed at the train and missed my flight so I’m stuck in Copenhagen another night but taking advantage of the extra time to play with some new Umbraco things and check out UaaS. #getblaketocg16 was a success thanks to the community and now I’m working on getting Blake home.