Behind the Scenes With a Umbraco MVP

In April 2019, we were lucky enough to welcome senior .Net developer, Nik Rimington, to the team. Nik has .Net development experience spanning over a decade, specialising in web development and Umbraco. In fact, he was crowned one of Umbraco’s Most Valuable People (MVP) for the third year running in 2020!

We grabbed five with Nik to find out a little more about what he does at Spindogs, what being an MVP means and why he’s still as interested and invested as ever in the Umbraco community.

A: WHEN DID YOUR INTEREST IN UMBRACO BEGIN?

N: So, my interest in Umbraco began almost five years ago when I moved to Cardiff to start a new role as a senior developer. At the time, I hadn’t heard of Umbraco but the company I was working at had just started to use it, so I had to quickly get my head around it. The company sent me on two training courses and I did a lot of research and investigation into the surrounding community and was immediately hooked. The rest, as they say, is history!

A: WHAT EXACTLY IS AN UMBRACO MVP?

N: MVP in Umbraco terms refers to Most Valuable People, or person. Umbraco Headquarters (HQ) describes MVP’s as “hardworking pillars of the Umbraco community”. Essentially, they are people who Umbraco recognise as great contributors to Umbraco and its community.

A: HOW DOES ONE BECOME AN MVP?

N: In short, you are selected. Over the years the selection process has changed but these days the decision comes from the HQ, as far as I’m aware. It’s a fairly ‘secret’ process, in that no one talks about it and, if you are anything like me, you won’t necessarily know how you were selected. My first time getting this award came as a complete shock (second time did as well, to be fair!), and it wasn’t until after Codegarden 2018 that I found out I was awarded it for my contributions to the Umbraco help & guidance forum.

A: YOU’VE BEEN AWARDED THIS FOR THE SECOND TIME NOW - HOW MANY ARE CHOSEN EACH YEAR?

N: It varies. In 2019, there were 14 new MVP’s and 32 renewals awarded, and the year before that, there were 16 new MVP’s and 18 renewals. I highly recommend getting to know as many as you can, as they are all great people who have a wealth of knowledge to share!

A: TELL US THREE THINGS YOU LOVE ABOUT UMBRACO…

N: Community, community, community. Yes, I know that is a cheating answer, but if it wasn’t for the welcoming community, I don’t think I would be as interested. Being part of something welcoming, that doesn’t belittle new people but instead helps them to learn, grow, and adapt is such a rewarding experience. It’s great when you can give back to it, too. If you want to get involved in the community, and I highly recommend you do, there are various ways you can do so. The quickest and easiest way to do it is to join the community space on Umbraco.com. The space is full of great information and resources, including a forum where you can ask questions, link to meet-ups, and other associated communities. 

A: YOU'VE NOW STARTED SPEAKING AT UMBRACO EVENTS AS AN MVP, TELL US ABOUT THE KIND OF EVENTS YOU HAVE SPOKEN AT AND WHAT ARE THE KEY TOPICS THE UMBRACO COMMUNITY WANT TO HEAR ABOUT?

N: Speaking at events is very new to me. Public speaking, in general, isn’t something I’m comfortable with! However, as I’ve been part of the community for a few years now, I’ve made the decision it’s something I need to do more of. So, on the face of that, I did my first talk earlier this year at the relaunch of Thames Valley Umbraco User Group (TVUUG) in Reading. It was an interesting experience and thankfully, it was well received. Here’s to more talks in 2020! The Umbraco community wants to hear about anything and everything. It’s a wonderfully knowledge-thirsty community. I have lots of ideas for what I would talk about next; some code based and some more theoretical, but I need to take some time to plan them and decide what format they best suit. I think I’ll probably edge more towards the theoretical but I may look to do a couple of small code talks around better practice and project structure as they seem to be commonly-debated topics.

A: TELL US ABOUT CODEGARDEN, WHAT GOES ON?

N: Codegarden is the annual Umbraco conference run by Umbraco HQ. It is currently held in Odense, Denmark, and is an exhilarating experience. Like most conferences, it’s an intense experience full of knowledge-sharing, talks, workshops, and networking. It also provides an opportunity for general chats with other attendees; breakout spaces for when the intensity gets too much, and wonderful food. The final day is structured differently and is based around the ’open circle initiative’, which allows attendees to run their own mini-talks/discussions and then feedback at the end of the day. This can be the most rewarding part of the event as there are often unexpected and very interesting topics discussed. On one of the nights, there is the infamous Umbraco bingo. That is all that can be said about it as quite frankly, words can’t describe it - you need to attend it to understand it!

A: MOVING ON TO TALK MORE ABOUT YOUR WORK AT SPINDOGS. WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU DURING THE WORKING WEEK?

N: There is no such thing as a typical day at Spindogs, and that is what makes it a great place to work. As a remote worker, my day always starts with a daily conference call with the rest of the remote team. This is a stand-up where we discuss the previous day and today’s tasks. After that, it’s a case of cracking on with it. My day can then involve more calls, but generally, it will be either project work, or amends and support. Project work will, as the name suggests, be time dedicated to working on a specific project. This can consist of working on a new build for a website, or it could be a large block of work, such as a new feature for an existing site. If it’s amends and support, then it’s working on completing the support tickets that clients have requested, or making small amends to existing sites. This year, we’ve introduced R&D time, which is a time for us developers to transform our ideas into prototypes. Maybe some of these prototypes will lead to talking ideas with our clients!

A: IF YOU COULD OFFER A NEW MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY ONE BIT OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

N: If you are new to the Umbraco community, my biggest advice is to get involved - don’t sit in the background and watch, try and participate. This could be asking questions, answering questions, or attending meet-ups/conferences. The Umbraco community is one of my greatest discoveries since becoming a developer – there’s something about it that’s pretty inspiring.

A: WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE FOR UMBRACO IS?

N: The future of Umbraco is an interesting one. Of course, I see it continuing to evolve and grow, but where I see it going, I’m not sure. Umbraco is working on a .Net Core version of the content management system (CMS), which, I believe, will greatly influence others to adopt it as it will expose it to other hosting environments. It’s recently launched Umbraco Heartcore, a headless version of the CMS, which isn’t targeted at existing Umbraco users but instead, at those who build alternative apps/sites and require a central store for their content. The product is Umbraco’s second venture into software as a service (SAAS) - the first being Umbraco Cloud - and with this comes improved stability for the HQ to support the Open Source CMS that powers both of these. With community engagement and the HQ working closely together, I see a very positive future for Umbraco and I’m excited to be a part of it!

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