What we learned from our Umbraco trainingLeave a Comment
As mentioned on another post, myself and Lewis recently undertook the Umbraco Level 1 and Level 2 training courses, which means we are both now Certified Umbraco Developers, listed on the umbraco.com website (see the links at the end of this post for proof).
Being an open and helpful bunch, we thought it would be a good idea to tell you about our experiences on the courses, which may help others who are thinking of going down the same route as ourselves make up their minds about official training.
So, to start at the beginning…
On a slightly damp September Monday morning we hopped on a train to Manchester, looking forward to learning more about our current CMS and quietly preparing ourselves for the chance that the way we were using Umbraco was not the best way of doing things.
The Level 1 course, led by Douglas Robar from Percipient Studios, was a great overview of Umbraco as a CMS, and how to put together a website just using the tools provided with it. We weren’t too sure how much we’d actually learn, given that we’ve been using Umbraco for the last 18 months, but we were pleasantly surprised by the range of the course content and picked up lots of tips and techniques.
One of the highlights for us was the realisation that document types and items in the content tree don’t have an exclusive one-to-one relationship with the pages you’ll see on the website, but can be also used as a way of logically storing content/data which can be used on any page at any point within a website. It was one of the few moments during that course that showed our current approach to document types/content structure was sometimes overly complex (but not completely wrong!), so, with that in mind, any future project will see us taking a bit more time to evaluate what data is needed, giving us the opportunity to reuse it more easily.
The Level 2 course, led by Darren Ferguson from Moriyama, was more developer-orientated, teaching us more about the extensible nature of Umbraco and the APIs that are available. Initially it concentrated on the old WebForms approach, designing and developing user controls for features such as feedback forms and login/logout pages for restricted areas of websites (using the API to create/reference people in Umbraco’s Members group), but handily took this further, explaining how to migrate to the new MVC framework and the benefits this brings.
The MVC approach was always appealing to us and it was one of the reasons we headed down the route we did with the ill-fated version 5, so finding out more about MVC in Umbraco (and the techniques for migrating) was a part of the course that was very rewarding for us. It was also reassuring to see how our current project, which is essentially integrating our CRM with the membership provider framework in Umbraco, isn’t too far removed from what we were taught!
One of the benefits of attending training off-site is the opportunity to talk to the trainers and other attendees, swapping hints/tips and chatting about the projects we’re working on or have been involved in. A lot of the attendees were from dedicated web design/development companies, but there were a few from in-house teams from the public sector and private businesses/organisations. As mentioned before in a different post, it’s surprising to find how some people’s roles are very focused on one aspect of design/development, whereas others have more of a jack-of-all-trades position, allowing them to pick up and use different skills when needed.
We actually had a ringer on our Level 1 course – one of the attendees was Matt Brailsford, a well known figure in the Umbraco community, and already Level 1 & Level 2 certified. The reason for his attendance was cleared up during the introduction – he was actually there as moral support for his wife, Lucy, who was taking the training to to improve her Umbraco knowledge and help with their business. Having the pair on the course was pretty interesting, as not only did we have the additional support of Matt to back up Doug’s teachings with additional hints & tips, but Lucy was able to give feedback from her point of view and prove how useful and accessible the course is.
So, to sum up – both courses are very useful and recommended. Level 1 is a perfect fit for those just starting out, whether they are content editors, or your development team who will be planning out and constructing your website in Umbraco. Level 2 is definitely more for your developers, and especially useful if you plan to have a secure user-restricted section of your website, or if you will be integrating other systems at some point.
- Level 1 Certified Developers list:
- Level 2 Certified Developers list:
- Shropshire Council’s entry on the list of Umbraco Certified Partners