Sitecore User Group Conference 2014

May 29, 2014 | Mike Edwards

This month saw the first ever Sitecore User Group Conference held in Utrecht in the Netherlands. Firstly, a big thank you to all the people that organised the event, this was a brilliant event with developer focused talks, which are the best kind of talks.

With so many great sessions going on in parallel it wasn’t possible to see everything but hopefully all the sessions will be appearing as videos in the near future (including my car crash of a Glass.Mapper presentation caused by my HDMI port deciding to take the day off, but more on that later).

I managed to attend Ruud Van Falier’s talk on Sitecore MVC, which gave an excellent overview of how Sitecore MVC worked, both comparing into traditional MVC and how Sitecore redirect requests to the MVC rendering engine. He then dived into how to use the out of the box features in renderings before moving onto more advanced subjects like IOC. You can grab his slides on SlideShare.

Following Ruud’s presentation I was due to start my Glass.Mapper MVC presentation. When we arrived in the morning I had tried to connect my laptop to the projector via the HDMI cable but it didn’t want to play ball. After trying many different solutions to this problem Kern suggested using Brilliant! I thought our problems were over... However 5 minutes before the presentation we had another problem, the WiFi was horribly slow. Apparently 90 developers at a conference will destroy any internet connection. Someone luckily had a mobile phone we could tether to, this worked but was unfortunately slow. Despite this I managed to get some form of the presentation out and you can view my slides on SlideShare:

After the presentation and feeling relieved that the first presentation was now complete I sat down to watch Kern tell us how to get Rich Quickly using Sitecore Search, a title that turned out to be a little misleading. What was great to see was the Geo-spatial search results, which allows you to filter results by geographic location, which for Kern involved finding the place “Rich” in “Kern County, California” (no I am not making that up!). Unfortunately, the technology gremlins also attacked Kerns presentation and took down the internet at the key moment. If you want to see Kern’s demo site you can grab it from GitHub.

Following Kern's presentation it was my turn again, this time on Sitecore Nirvana – Continuous Deployment. Accepting that I had not sacrificed enough coffee to the demo gods, we went with the solution using the mobile device. This meant the total technology used to preform my presentation was two laptops, 1 mobile phone and a projector! 

This presentation covered how you could automate deployments to all your environments, dev, staging and live by using Sitecore SIM, Sitecore Ship, Razl and Team Development for Sitecore. This includes showing how a developer who is new to the project and has no previous project setup could download the source code, hit deploy and have a complete Sitecore instance built and setup with code and items. You can grab the slides for this presentation on SlideShare.

You should also check out the Build Extension project that we have supplied as open source software and the demo site that uses it.

The final presentation of the day was from Steven Pope who demoed how we could scale our search solutions using SOLR. It was great to see the power and resilience that can be achieved by using SOLR and I was surprised that the configuration for this wasn’t that bad. After this presentation I think I will be permanently scarred by this image that Stephen choose to use:

While everyone was enjoying the presentations Alex Kamburov, from our Bulgarian office, was manning the Hedgehog stand, distributing small furry hedgehogs, (which some people couldn't be trusted with, I am looking at you Anders) and providing information on the range of products and services that Hedgehog supply.

It was great to meet with Alex in person because we normally only get to chat over Skype.

Overall the event was amazing, it was awesome to have an event purely for Sitecore developers by Sitecore developers. Utrecht was a beautiful place to hold the event with many great place to eat in the evening (thanks Frank for the recommendations).  I hope that the event is held again next year so that we can have more great presentations!