umbLocalGov 2 – the (belated) round-up
First of all, I have to apologise for the delay in writing this round-up post… it’s been the usual case of getting my head stuck in the day-to-day jobs and meetings and, before I’ve known it, months have passed by and the year has rolled over from 2014 to 2015!
Anyway, the lovely autumn day that was October 9 2014 saw the second umbLocalGov event, celebrating all things Umbraco in local government with talks from Tom Styles (Nottinghamshire County Council), Kevin Jump (Jumoo), Marc Goodson (Moriyama) and Phil Rumens and Sarah Lay (LocalGovDigital).
As per the last event, the attendees’ own experiences with Umbraco were reflected by the talks on offer, catering for those just starting out, those already stuck in looking for hints and tips right on up to the more experienced users looking to share what they’ve built with others, or collaborate on shared projects.
Tom Styles started off this journey by recounting Nottinghamshire County Council’s own tentative steps towards moving away from their old CMS to Umbraco, and the mindset they took when approaching this project. As always, it’s interesting to see how people come across the different CMSs that are out there (open-source or off-the-shelf products), and how they whittle the options down to Umbraco. In this instance Tom explained their path to this conclusion, and gave a good insight into how they presented the business case to those in charge, with the view that they may be wary of open source solutions.
Kevin Jump was next, explaining how his uSync package helps developers migrate what they’ve built from a development/test platform to a live production server, and how this is complemented by the uSync.ContentEdition package, which does the same thing, but for your website content. It was reassuring that from the questions and comments raised after Kevin’s talk, it was evident that we aren’t the only ones currently rolling out updates manually, and that these packages would be incredibly useful for the next lot of projects on our cards.
Keeping with the learning theme, Marc Goodson stepped up to talk about the official training on offer, and the benefits it brings to both the attendees passing the exams and the organisations that have a number of qualified staff in-house. From our own experiences of the Umbraco training, we wholeheartedly sing its praises to those who are to trying to decide to either pay for the training or just figure things out for themselves and tap into the rich vein of experience that is the Umbraco community’s forum and personal blogs.
As an added bonus, Marc was also able to give us a preview of the upcoming ‘Umbraco-as-a-Service’ (UAAS – or you can use its codename ‘Concorde’ if you don’t want to pronounce the acronym out loud as one word), which is essentially Umbraco run in the cloud, with a range of pricing options for solo developers, small teams or larger development organisations. This is an incredibly inviting solution for those of us who are thinking of moving our hosting to a cloud solution – such as Azure – given that the costs aren’t just for one instance of Umbraco, but cover a development and live instance for each of your projects (there’s a staging instance for those paying for the mid- to high-end options), and includes automatic upgrades.
To round off the day, Phil Rumens and Sarah Lay spoke to us about the growing LocalGovDigital organisation. Essentially this is a network of digital practitioners working in local government across the UK who are pulling together to share knowledge and skills, as well as becoming a growing force for shaping or even writing the standards which those local government organisations are striving to reach. Their own website (http://www.localgovdigital.info) is built in Umbraco, and their LocalGov Makers workstream taps into the very nature of Umbraco’s community spirit – providing a point of reference for local government organisations to list their current projects, collaborate, and share what they’ve made already, as well as encouraging people to set up events like umbLocalGov and LocalGovCamp to get people together in the real world.
Wrapping up, the general feeling among the attendees was that umbLocalGov shouldn’t happen just once a year, and it should also be a roaming event, allowing people from other councils to pick up the torch and host it in their own location and in their own ways. This will allow those who couldn’t make the trip up/down/across to Shropshire to attend an event closer to home, and to set up the talks to cover the needs of their attendees. As a result of this discussion, I had a chat with a few of the attendees, and the first of the next generation of umbLocalGov events will be organised by Huntingdonshire District Council, with Nottinghamshire County Council volunteering to host the one following that.