With the recent addition of Owain and Damien to our Umbraco development team, we thought it would be the perfect time to give you a recap of our in-house talent and who would be working on your Umbraco projects.
We grabbed 5 with Sian, Nik, Damien & Owain to find out how they started their Umbraco journeys and why they’ve come to love ‘the friendly CMS’ so much.
First, an introduction to the team:
Sian – Umbraco Certified Expert
Sian is our longest-serving member of the Spindogs Umbraco Team since joining us back in 2017. She is not only a Umbraco Certified Expert but also our Front End Team Leader, ensuring projects run smoothly and the team is happy. A few notable Umbraco projects that Sian’s worked on are Acorn, Monmouthshire Building Society, British Computer Society and Tenovus.
Nik – 3x MVP & Umbraco Certified Expert
Nik joined the Spindogs team at the beginning of 2019 and was then a one-time Umbraco MVP (Most Valued Player). Since then, he has secured the title for another two years running with his outstanding contributions to the Umbraco community. Nik is also part of the Umbraco Packages team, doing pull requests to the CMS core and the CMS Documentation. A few of Nik’s notable projects are PonyClub, Nuaire and Bar2.
Owain – 3x MVP & Umbraco Certified Master
Owain joins the Spindogs Umbraco team with a wealth of experience within the Umbraco community. Like Nik, he’s been crowned a Umbraco MVP three times and is also a Umbraco Certified master. Owain is also a part of the Umbraco HQ teams to help improve the CMS and Documentation.
Damien - Umbraco Certified Expert
Damien (or Damo) is our newest Umbraco recruit, bringing with him over 15 years experience as a Senior .Net Developer. Along with Nik and Sian, he also holds the Umbraco Certified Expert title.
How many years of experience do you each have working with Umbraco?
Nik: I’ve got about five and a half years of experience working with Umbraco version 7 and 8. I started back around April 2015 and it’s been an exciting journey so far.
Damien: I’ve been using Umbraco since 2013, so, coming up to 8 years.
Sian: I’ve been working with Umbraco since 2012 when I was fresh-faced and wide-eyed (newly graduated from uni)!
Owain: I started looking at Umbraco back in 2017 and have been using it for personal and professional projects ever since.
How did you end up going down the Umbraco route?
Nik: Purely by chance. Back in 2015, 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 started working for 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!
Damien: We had a few custom CMS solutions from our development partners where I used to work, one in Coldfusion and another in .NET, in terms of features they just didn’t cut it, and maintaining a CMS didn’t make sense, we had heard of Umbraco so decided to use for an internal project. I was really impressed, so started using it for our clients.
Sian: I landed a Digital Designer role with a small .Net agency when I finished uni and they specialised in Umbraco CMS. I was meant to be designing websites but quickly developed an interest in building them too. The studio manager at that agency was really passionate about Umbraco and he’s the one who taught me the joys of XSLT…. I joke (there is no joy in that coding language). Back then they were using Umbraco 4, so I’ve seen it come a long way since then.
Owain: It was all about the community for me. Instantly I felt safe to ask any questions I might have when learning how to use the CMS. I had looked at other CMS solutions and my questions were either unanswered or I was shot down for asking such ‘simple’ questions. A question is only simple if you know the answer.
Once I found that the community was so accepting, I then went looking for jobs where I could specialise in the Umbraco CMS and as they say, the rest is history.
What's your favourite thing about Umbraco?
Nik: The Community. 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 Our.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. I’d also suggest attending meetups and joining the Umbraco Slack channel (http://umbracians.chat/)
Damien: Flexibility. If you know .NET you’ll be right at home. You can override default behaviour easily and with regards our clients the editor interface has really come along way. Also worth mentioning the Umbraco community, this is something special that you don’t see with many other CMS platforms.
Sian: From a developer perspective, the back office is so easy to use and the UI is really clean. That just makes it so easy to craft a CMS and there is nothing better than a client commenting on how easy to use their CMS is. There are lots of neat packages created by people in the Umbraco Community and if you ever have a question about anything the Community are really friendly and helpful!
Owain: Other than the community, I love how it’s all open source. If I find a bug or I think something could be implemented better, then I can make the change and if I’m lucky, it will become part of the official CMS release. I’ve made a couple of small changes to the core code over the years and it’s always nice to see my handiwork in a CMS that is used by thousands of other people. The open-source part also means you can dig around the code to get a better understanding of how something works.
Are there any cool potential Umbraco features you'd like to see in the future?
Nik: I’m excited to see the future of the new Block Editor. Its initial launch in version 8.7 was highly anticipated and it’s looking great, but I feel there are a few features that are currently missing. There is also a big discussion going on around how “element data” can be stored, which will potentially open-up a huge improvement in editors like this in the future. Finally, the continuing work to improve back-office accessibility is always great to see.
Damien: It would be great to see some kind of live “in situ” editing of content while browsing the front end, maybe just text areas to begin with, I know it’s been tried via some 3rd party packages and we had canvas mode in V6, would be great to have as part of the core, it’s something clients often ask about, I’ve seen it in other platforms but admittedly not polished.
Owain: There is a lot of work being carried out by Umbraco and the community into making Umbraco more accessible to individuals with disabilities. Not everyone that uses Umbraco is using a mouse or even a screen! Making the CMS work with screen readers for example has come on leaps and bounds over the years. The more accessible the CMS becomes, the easier it will be for anyone to use it.
We think you'll agree that our Umbraco projects are in pretty safe hands with this team!
If you'd like to speak to one of our experts about your next Umbraco project, get in touch below, we'd love to hear from you!