I struggle with Imposter Syndrome daily in my work life and I keep on expecting to be told they employed the wrong person. To me, my C# skills are average and I've only been using Umbraco on a personal level for the past 2 years, so how did I manage get my dream job at LEWIS Creative Consultants as a Technical Developer working and getting more hands on with Umbraco and being invited to write this article for 24Days?
On your marks….Get set…..Code!
I started by deciding that I wanted to get a better understanding of how Umbraco works. I headed to our.umbraco.org and got stuck in to the Umbraco documentation. This might sound boring but it's a great resource and it's a good place to start.
After installing Umbraco, many times, following different methods, I found the option that worked best for me. Don't be afraid to try different options and make mistakes. It's how I learn best!
You can go down the route of installing direct from the website via WebMatrix or, and this is now my go to method, open Visual Studio and install the latest version from Nuget. I prefer this option as is it makes upgrading Umbraco a lot easier, plus you can pick different versions of Umbraco to install if for some reason you need an older version.
There is also Umbraco Cloud which is now available, but I’ve not had any experience with that, yet.
Once I had played about with Umbraco and felt this was the CMS for me, I bought myself a subscription to Umbraco.tv.
If I had realised how good a resource it was, I would have bought a subscription earlier. It takes a lot of the guess work out of things. Use the videos alongside the documentation and you will get up to speed with the Umbraco basics quickly. The videos walk you through all aspects of Umbraco, whether you are a content editor, a developer or you fancy building your own custom components, it's all there.
You will no doubt stumble upon 24Days when searching for Umbraco tips, it is also a good resource for learning about more specific areas of Umbraco. Numerous times I've searched for something and up pops 24Days. Don't discard it just because the published date is 2015 or 2016, there are some great nuggets to be found which are still relevant.
Help!! I need help!!
As with most things new, you will come against stumbling blocks and when learning Umbraco it's no different. Don't worry. I've been stuck many times and I still hit my head off the desk now and again in frustration when I can't figure something out.
For the past 2 years I've worked with Umbraco on my own. I didn't have anyone to bounce ideas off or just ask questions. This has made learning things slower than if I had been working in an office with someone but if you are in the same scenario, help is available.
There are 101 places you can get help and some are better than others.
My first recommendation is to head back over to Our. This time visit the community side of the site, the place to ask questions is the forum. It's a friendly place to ask for some help when you're stuck. You will be encouraged and helped as much as possible.
Some tips when posting:
- Give as much detail in your post as you can
- Tell people what you have tried already
- Explain what you are trying to achieve
But what happens if you need the answer now, not in a couple of hours or days?
Slack is your friend.
Do you remember IRC? No? Well, in simple terms, it's an online chat room. There are a couple of ‘rooms’ for Umbracians. It took me a while to find this resource but it’s brilliant for getting to know other Umbraco users, chatting about all things Umbraco and asking for help.
I use it as an extension to my work place, I can ask questions in the #help channel and discuss all things Umbraco in the #general channel.
How to get involved – meetups, conferences, contribute
I’m a firm believer in giving back to open source projects, which Umbraco is, and many others feel the same.
Did you know you can also contribute back to Umbraco and help improve the CMS? That’s right, you can make changes, fix bugs and issues within Umbraco and your code could become part of the core build!
If like me, this scares you a bit, you can take things a bit slower and help improve the documentation. I’ve spent a fair bit of time making amends and trying to improve the documentation and it’s really easy to do. If I can do it, anyone can!
You can make updates to the documentation straight on the website. Just click on the edit icon which is on the top right hand corner of each page when you are logged in to the site.
Although the virtual channels are great, you can’t beat meeting people face to face and this is why this year I went about setting up the Edinburgh Umbraco Users Group – EDINBUUG. Glasgow has had a meetup group for a while but I couldn’t get from Edinburgh to Glasgow in time and I imagined others might be in the same boat so I set one up in Edinburgh.
We meet every two months and chat about projects we are working on, events we have been too and generally geek out on all things Umbraco, learning from each other. It’s an informal atmosphere and all subjects are covered for example we’ve looked at using Umbraco with mobile apps, with Amazon’s Alexa, with booking systems, extending the backoffice, creating our own templates, and I’ve learned a lot from these meets.
There are loads of meetups around and if you can get along to one I would recommend it, if there isn’t one near you, why not set one up?
To find your local meetup, check out Our.
This year I’ve also attended a weekend retreat for Umbraco Devs called CodeCabin. It was a brilliant weekend of learning from others and chatting about all aspects of Umbraco, from building your first package to how to get the best out of your Umbraco install. Umbraco HQ also organise and run CodeGarden, which is the flagship conference / festival for Umbraco. I’ve never been but I hope to make it one day.
Now that I’m working with Umbraco sites of all shapes and sizes on a daily basis I hope to start to help resolve issues on the issue tracker. I also want to start answering peoples questions on the forum and slack channels and in some small way, give something back to the community.
I hope this has helped you with getting on the road to using and enjoying Umbraco.
I look forward to hopefully meeting some of you at a meetup, conference or virtually on the different platforms available to us all in the near future.
Owain is on Twitter as @ScottishCoder