A little over a week ago I had the chance to participate in one of the many Umbraco community events, Umbraco DK Festival. The event is organized yearly by Kraftværk and takes place in Aarhus. This year’s edition gathered 165 Umbracians which is over twice as much as last year.
In itself, the festival is great place to meet local, like-minded, industry folk and strike up great conversations. But even though socializing is a vital part of the gathering, knowledge sharing is perhaps even more important.
The program for this year promised a full day of talks from Umbraco HQ, Kraftværk and a few other Umbraco-minded professionals And it was not a disappointment. Out of all the talks I listened to 3 were especially interesting: Per Ploug’s presentation of Project Belle, Flemming Rubak’s “The responsive way”, and Douglas Robar’s ”How to become a superhero”. Each of the presentations was interesting for a different reason.
Project Belle is a long time coming update on the Umbraco backoffice interface. It’s built with AngularJS, RequireJS and Twitter Bootstrap. The changes concern not only the look and feel (no more Windows 95 style boxes) but also the way the interface is built and can be modified. You can download current prototype of Belle from this github. Slides from the presentation are also available here and though they are rather limited, you can still catch a glimpse of the beauty, that is the new backoffice. Currently there is no release date yet but my hopes are up because I think this will actually change a lot in terms of how we interact with Umbraco and the experience of our clients in their everyday operations.
The Responsive Way
Flemming Rubak from Kraftværk spoke about the topic that, while not being directly Umbraco related, concerns every webmaker out there, responsive websites. Much has been said and written on the topic and there are many tools one can employ. And while there certainly are some best practices and tried solutions, it is great to hear how an experienced developer puts together the different tools to create outstanding solutions.
Flemming Rubak did exactly that: explained his way of creating responsive websites with the use of, among others, Wurfl, Zen Grids and Sass. The presentation was long and elaborate and I won’t presume to repeat it all here. Suffice to say that a couple of really good tips stuck in my head and I’m looking forward to when the presentation slides will be published to look into the many resources mentioned.
How to become a superhero?
And lastly, Douglas Robar spoke of how to become a superhero to your clients by providing them with the best possible editor’s experience and limiting their possibilities for making errors. The presentation revolved around the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle of interface design but what made it special, was that it referred back to practical tips for building sites with Umbraco. Anyone who has ever worked with interface design must surely have heard about the rules of only providing relevant choices, hiding elements that would be distracting, or using enclosure and visual groupings to provide context. However how to bring these rules into life when setting up Umbraco’s backoffice for your editors is a whole other questions. One, which in great part was answered by Doug Robar during his presentation.
All in all, Umbraco DK Festival 2013 was a great experience. Both as an opportunity to meet active community members and socialize over a beer or two, but also a chance to share knowledge and be inspired to learn more and build better Umbraco websites.