How I get the most from Sitecore Symposium (and other events)

How I get the most from Sitecore Symposium

(and other Sitecore events)

In case you’re living under a rock and haven’t noticed yet, Sitecore Symposium 2018 is just around the corner. This year it’s all happening in Orlando, FL.

If you take a look at the published Agenda you will find a near endless wall of back to back sessions, starting from 8 in the morning (7 if you include breakfast) and continuing on until 6 in the evening for the two main event days (the entire event runs over 4 days). And then, of course, there’s the opening reception, the dinner event, the pre-conference seminars. For some of us, there’s even the yearly Sitecore MVP Summit, extending the event throughout the entire week.

So how to make the most of all that?


I know I should be telling you, print out the agenda, mark the must-see sessions, fill out the rest of the slots with sessions that catches your eye. You (or your employer) paid good money to be here, you best make the very most of your time in Orlando.

But I won’t.

Because I don’t believe this is the way to get the most from an event like this.

Don’t get me wrong, the sessions are all great. I am presenting myself, and I know the amount of work and sweat and tears that go into preparing to speak at an event like this. And I would of course love it, if my session room was filled to the brim with enthusiastic and eager minds coming to listen to what I have to say. I am currently scheduled to speak Thursday, 9.30 am, for those so inclined.

But back to back sessions, from 8 in the morning until the early evening - followed by various social events and socialising? I think not.

I say, take it one step back. Go ahead, print the agenda. Mark the must-see sessions that apply to you. There’ll probably even be an App. But leave it at that. Go where the flow takes you for the rest. Maybe you’ve made some new friends over by the water cooler and they’re all going to see Kam Figy @kamsar showcase the latest and greatest stuff you can do with JSS. Maybe that wasn’t what you planned when you looked at the printed agenda the week before. But join them anyway.

What happens at these events then, if not sessions?

I’ve been around a few years. Doing Sitecore. I’ve been to Symposiums, SUGCONs, User Group events, pretty much all over the world. And I’ll tell you, honestly, the very best experiences I’ve had on these events had nothing to do with the sessions presented. I’ll share one.

Last year at SUGCON in Berlin, I was “over stimulated” by the sessions, by probably staying up a little later than I should the night before, by the crowd, by the sessions, by all the inputs. Everything. So I took a breather and skipped a session (more than once), just hanging out in the lounge area. I bump into Adam Najmanowicz @adamnaj who was - probably - feeling something similar, and we hit up a chat. I spent the next hour debating back and forth with him, the merits and problems of the Sitecore Experience Accellerator (SXA) and had a chance to voice my unique perspective on it all. And he listened. Anyone who’s ever met Adam will know this, he listens. And learns. And provides insight.

Look. My point is not “don’t attend the sessions and you might meet Adam” (although I do recommend meeting him). My point is, something like this will never make it to any official agenda. You can’t plan for this. But if the opportunity presents itself, grab it.

Because the best thing is not on the agenda at all

What’s that you say? I’m saying that what makes these events so special, is the people attending. You. Me. Everyone. To use a term that has been over-used, washed, hung up to dry, washed again - “Networking”.

The best thing about these events. The Sitecore Community.

We don’t get many chances to all come together at the same place at the same time. But the Sitecore Symposium is one such event. Don’t let that opportunity go past you without you noticing. Don’t come back home, being asked “How was it?” and go “Yea was alright. Saw a lot of new stuff”. Come back, smile on your face, and either just stay silent or respond “I made lots of valuable new friends”. And if your boss asks, just tell him or her “I learned lots about the implications of JSS and SXA on the modern CMS world and how it influences the Sitecore 9 roadmap”. You can quote me on that ;-)

I hope to see you in Orlando.


Clouds, Unicorns and Rainbows

Clouds, Unicorns, and Rainbows

Before you say it; “Doesn’t this blog look familiar somehow?”. I know. Ok? I know :-)

While my Blogger based blog “Into The Core” and I go way back, like back to 2005 back, it has not always been a relationship of pure love and merry co-existence.

Blogger has, as you would expect from any service that has been around for almost 20 years, undergone a number of changes over the years. And ever so often this has had subtle yet annoying influence on how my blog there presented itself. Paragraph spacing would sometimes change, leaving my blog posts looking very congested, and forcing me to go back to all of them and redo their formatting. Not cool.

The problem at the core of all this is, of course, that the underlying content in Blogger is stored as HTML. It became clear to me that I wanted to shift onto a blogging platform that was Markdown based. I also wanted full source level control of the content, and I wanted an easy way to move the platform around when - 15 years from now - things will have changed up once again.

Long story short; Kamsar’s post on Hexo made a lot of sense and inspired me to take a closer look at Hexo myself. And here we are. That we also ended up using the same theme (Icarus) for the blog is more due to the fact that I feel it’s the best theme available for Hexo right now, and (probably moreso) that I’m lazy.

The new name?

A generation has passed (ok, an Internet generation perhaps) since I started blogging. The whole IT landscape has changed, not once but many times over. And in this current day and age I guess it should come as no surprise, it’s all about The Cloud. And when it comes to Sitecore this primarily revolves around Azure, PaaS, and everything that comes with it.

All of this, much as I hate to admit it, has sort of rebooted a large part of what I used to “know” and take for granted. When it comes to deploying a multi-server Sitecore solution to Azure that scales across the globe - I’m as much on page 1 as everyone else. Maybe page 2, but you get my meaning.

As I form experience and in the event I feel I can add something valuable to the ongoing conversation about Sitecore in the Cloud, I feel this new blog and platform is a more appropriate base for future blog posts.

But why now?

I don’t blog a whole lot any more. I’ve found other ways to put my knowledge and experience to use, and where there used to be only a handful of us back in 2005 there are now a literal forest of active bloggers out there writing and sharing - which is excellent, of course :-) But these days I only blog when I have something on my mind that I feel is not getting covered (enough) elsewhere. Otherwise I dedicate my time on:

  1. The Sitecore Stack Exchange - of which I am a co-founder and co-moderator.
  2. The Sitecore Slack Community - Where thousands of active Sitecore community members hang out daily.
  3. Read more about our community Slack in Jammykam’s excellent introduction Sitecore Slack Community Guidelines & Help
  4. Sign up for Sitecore Slack here
  5. And thirdly, the main reason I can no longer postpone having a blogging platform I can live with:

Unicorn & Rainbow

As you may or may not know, Kam Figy - author and creator of many beloved open source tools for the Sitecore platform, recently started working for the Mothership where he is now focused on building cool things that will eventually make all of us back-end developers unemployed ;-)

But cool things such as JSS, a whole new career focus, and the fact that time may very well be relative but not so much for us mere Earthlings, has left Kam pressed for time. He asked me, and I accepted, to become a co-pilot on the Unicorn and Rainbow projects.

Co-pilot, mind you. Kam is by no means gone from these projects and I bear no illusion that I could just jump onboard and start filling out those shoes entirely on my own. But it means that I am doing most of the day-to-day and, over time, will be adding more of my own footprint to these projects. I have had nothing but love for Unicorn since I first came across it in 2014.

And Unicorn continues to be my number 1 choice on Sitecore solutions to this day. Now - almost 4 years later - Unicorn has grown from being relatively obscure to becoming a household name in Sitecore solutions across the world. Thousands and thousands of downloads.

I still remember exactly why I fell in love with Unicorn, and why that is still the case to this day. While co-piloting this project, I will keep staying true to that legacy and still work to find ways to improve and better the project for all of us to enjoy.

I certainly have my work cut out for me :-)