Brace Digital attends Umbraco Spark 2024

In: #umbracospark #meetup #bristol
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Last week the Brace Digital team headed down to Bristol for the annual Umbraco Spark Innovation Conference. Most of the team attended last year and had a brilliant time networking, listening to the informative talks and enjoying the social activities that had been arranged. It was our newest recruit, Amber-Jane's first time at Umbraco Spark, so we thought it would be great to get her take on the day.

Amber-Janes Umbraco Spark Experience 

Day 1 

I set off early Thursday morning from the North West and headed for Bristol by train. The Shropshire Hills were nothing short of a scenic delight, even despite the gloomy weather. I admired the mountainous views and spent some time deciding which talks I would like to attend. As my career has previously been in renewable energy and I'm new to the dev world, I was keen to attend both Mikkel's sustainability focused and Matt's automation geared talks. 

I've always wanted to visit Bristol to admire its eclectic architecture which ranges from 19th century romantic medevial to the mirrored facades of the 21st century. Once I hopped off the train and whilst heading over to Origin Workspaces, I was able to take in some of the wonderful sights Bristol has to offer. As we're a remote team, it was lovely to meet two of our developers Aimee and Simon, and the team spent the afternoon collaborating and bonding over shared music tastes (remarkably this was Taylor Swift!). A visual highlight has to be admiring an original Bansky, kindly pointed out by one of our Directors, Ben.

Once the days work was complete we made our way to a Greek restaurant before attending the Umbraco Spark meet-up at Roxy's. The organisers, Gibe Digital, had arranged a fantastic evening jam packed with activities - the whole team at Brace Digital would like to say a huge thank you as we all had so much fun. 

With the games concluded, and after socialising with the Umbraco community (meeting lots of friendly new faces), we returned to our hotel for a much needed slumber. 

Day 2 - The event 

After a glorious breakfast with all the trimmings, and a nutella croissant.. we walked through Bristol city centre and arrived at M-Shed for 8:30am. From the off, the event was extremely well organised with plenty of friendly faces to assist us with sign posting, goody bags and information about the day ahead. I enjoyed yet another pastry before attending the welcome talk in track 1, followed by Lone and Jacob's fantastic opener into the new back office. 

Everyone I spoke to was in great spirits and it was brilliant to listen to others Umbraco experiences from varying disciplines. I'm a Project Coordinator here at Brace Digital so although not from a technical background, I still found most talks easy to grasp as they were clear, concise and well structured. Next I attended Mikkel's thought-provoking talk and learned about how to make websites composable and super fast. 

Following a fantastic lunch and more networking, we headed to Matt's talk and learned about how he had created an intertwined digital work horse to efficiently create news for the UMB.FYI Newsletter. I was fascinated by this and loved the diagram which showed all the moving parts working in harmony. As I support with the social media strategy here at Brace Digital, I'm looking to incorporate some Matt's ideas and see if we can streamline our approach too. All employees have signed up to the newsletter and if you haven't already, we would encourage you to get involved and send tips via the numerous and simple routes Matt has set in place. Join UMB.FYI

Next I was off to Hannah, Thomas' and James' talk on measuring the impact of your Umbraco websites' carbon footprint. It was a fantastic talk which started with an introduction to everyones dogs! (they certainly know how to please a crowd) Here at Brace Digital we support our clients with measuring their impact via various website scanning tools that monitor performance and make recommendations on how to reduce energy consumption, such as reduced image sizes and lazy loading. We think the team are doing a fantastic job with their green initiative and we're staying tuned to learn more from The Green Web Foundation, so that in turn, we can continue to educate and support our clients with their sustainability ambitions. To check if your website runs on green energy, you can use the organisations free scanner The Green Web Foundation.

Our Client Services Manager, Kate found Molly's talk to be one of the highlights from her day, here's what she wrote: "I found Molly Watt’s talk on ‘how to think and design in an inclusive way’ really interesting and inspiring. As someone who uses assistive technology herself, Molly talked about her own experiences to emphasise the importance of inclusion, and how we can assist with this as designers and developers to make websites accessible to all."

Following a short intermission of coffee and taking in the sights of the Bristol from the venues veranda, I stayed in track 1 for the following two talks from Dan & Joe. Dan shared fantastic insight into the development of Umbraco Cloud and it was inspiring to see how much work had gone into the platform. Joe's talk was engaging from the off as he graced the stand in a colourful costume! It was brilliant to learn about how the Umbraco community supports one another when faced with problems, and I developed my knowledge on learning how to seek advice in a way which will enable community members to help me effectively.

The day ended with a closing drink and I said farewell to the many friendly faces I had met during the day. One of our developers, Aimee shares her thoughts of the day: "This was my second year attending Spark and again I am reminded of how welcoming and fun the Umbraco community is. The more of these conferences you attend, the more familiar it feels and allows you to get into a groove with how the day is structured. The trip was filled with lots of interesting talks, laughs and snacks and I look forward to next year going along with the team!"

Fond farewell and back up North..

As a team, we walked to Bristol Temple Meads to begin our journey home and shared our thoughts of the day. Overall I had an awesome time and I'm looking forward to next years event, and other community meet ups this year. A huge thank you to the Umbraco Community for being so welcoming and making me feel at home.