Codegarden 2024

Codegarden 2024

A first-time attendee provides their opinion what Codegarden once was and what it should be in the future. 

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Codegarden for a change (a first-timer's opinion)

Codegarden 2024 took place in Odense, Denmark on June 11th to 14th. Chris attended for the first time this year, these are his thoughts.

It was with great delight that I was asked to attend Codegarden in June this year. For those that don't know, Codegarden is Umbraco's annual conference. At nearly 20 years old the conference is well established and comes with a lot of history, but Codegarden is far from stuck in the past. 

I've had the pleasure of using Umbraco CMS for 10 years (since 6.2.2), but haven't really engaged with the community during that time. It's only since joining Gibe last year that I've made the effort to attend conferences and meetups, and I am all the more enriched for having done so.

I'll try not to bore you with the usual description of the mad things that can be seen or experienced at Codegarden. Nor do I expect you to want to read a day by day account of the talks I attended or the shenanigans that occurred. Suffice it to say, believe all the awesome things you hear. It's true, Codegarden is a conference like no other. 

That being said, I will sneak in a comment about the wonderfully inspiring speakers and the sheer quality of their presentation. It's fantastic that the sessions were recorded this year. I will be taking the opportunity to watch some of the sessions I missed, and I will also be re-watching some of the sessions that I attended! If you can only watch one session, then I would recommend that it should be "HEDY: Creating a programming language for everyone" by Felienne Hermans.

Rather than the usual "diary of my time at Codegarden" style blog post I would like to discuss a theme that I heard at the conference, and it isn't sustainability, it isn't AI, and it isn't Umbraco 14.     

Chris Fitz-Avon is a Senior Backend Developer at Gibe

"Codegarden isn't what it used to be" is a refrain that I've heard a fair amount during this Codegarden. As a first time attendee I can't verify the veracity of that statement, but I can understand the feelings behind it. Just as I can understand why the conference will probably continue to be different to the good ol' days. Umbraco (the CMS) is going through a transitional period right now, just as Umbraco HQ (the company) will have done after receiving major investment from Monterro. As such Codegarden will inevitably transform too. 

There are elements of Codegarden lore that should be remembered and preserved, and there are those that have had their time. I've heard hilarious stories about Codegardens past. But I've also been baffled by inside jokes. I've engaged in some brilliant conversations with other attendees whom I've never met, but I've also felt isolated when on the outside of an established group. 

In order to keep it's identity Umbraco needs to distil the elements of the legends of previous Codegardens; friendliness, willingness to share, collaborative effort, a touch of theatre, bizarre games, whacky prizes, fairness, looking after each other, and mix these elements into a new concoction that will be the Codegarden of the future. It's Umbraco HQ's job to lay the framework for this, taking care to infuse just the right amount of "weird" to keep the Umbraco/Codegarden identity, but not so much to alienate newcomers. 

Codegarden isn't what it used to be

Various Codegarden attendees

Umbraco HQ can only do so much, as Umbraco's most important resource, it is down to the community to make Codegarden the kind of conference you want it to be. It is imperative that we as a community continue to feedback, engage and enjoy Cogegarden. It's down to you to help that person looking lost, it's down to you to share the inside jokes, it's down to you to talk to that person standing on their own.

Yes Codegarden isn't what it used to be. It's different; because Umbraco is different, because the community is different. It will never be the same conference that you remember, but it is down to you to keep it unique and to keep it "Codegarden".

About the Author

Chris Fitz-Avon, Senior Backend Developer

Chris is a Senior Backend Developer at Gibe who strives to deliver efficient web-based platforms that are a pleasure to use.