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The Past, Present and Future of Umbraco

The Past, Present and Future of Umbraco
Ravi Motha

Ravi Motha • Senior Umbraco Developer

from Moriyama • 30 May 2024 • 1 min read

A valued member of the Umbraco community since 2010. Ravi Motha runs meetups, speaks at conferences and has 7 MVPs under his belt for community contribution. Here are his thoughts on where Umbraco has been and where it's going.

Inspired by Jeffrey Schoemaker

This article was inspired by the talk I gave at Umbraco Spark recently, and that talk was inspired by Jeffrey Schoemaker!

Nearly ten years ago, in 2015, Jeffrey wrote an article on Skrift about User Management in Umbraco. He set out to look at improvements that he thought could be made to Umbraco, particularly the member's section.

His article spoke to me as it was full of passion and articulated a desire for better. 

It is that passion and drive I want to ignite in this article, but to do that, we as a group need to take a good look at the past and understand the successes (and failures) so we can move to a brighter future.

The year Umbraco became open source

Umbraco recently celebrated its 19th birthday as an open-source product! 

If you want to relive the moment in 2005 when Umbraco became open source for the first time, I highly recommend watching Terrence Burridge's brilliant Happy 19th Birthday Umbraco on YouTube.

Remember, 2005 is the year that gave us the new words “sexting” and “glamping," though I hasten to add that they are not together. Keep an eye out in the video for the subtle signs of 2005, including the giant Monitor, the long loads or the old-school Umbraco set-up!


Umbraco version 4

Two short years later, version 4 was released in 2007, and it was in one of the many point releases over the next few years that I discovered Umbraco.

Version 4 had loads of great features, including MNTP, uComponents, and XSLT (shudders), and there were lots of great opportunities to contribute.

Big changes and features were easier to make as the team was still relatively small and agile and could pivot.

Umbraco version 5

So now we get to the mystery portion of the Umbraco story: what happened in 2011?

In February 2011, in an effort to look to the future, Umbraco decided to go away and rework and retool the CMS, resulting in Umbraco version 5!

A walled garden was accidentally built as part of the build and release. 

People were working away from public view in an effort to allow a pure idea to be developed, and then when those things were made public, there was an unwillingness within the community to say things weren't working.

It turns out these minority reports were a harbinger, and ultimately, what could have been a big deal (the big new release) was a big deal for another reason.

Codegarden 2012

They killed v5 at Codegarden 2012. 

It is one of the bravest and boldest decisions Umbraco has ever made. They looked at what they had and realised it would have taken more energy and investment to rescue it.

However, they didn't just throw it away; they learned some lessons, and from that, we have had version 6 and 7. These two versions have been great workhorses, and with the company's growth, we are currently in a great place. 

Congratulations Umbraco and all the contributors on the terrific work! 

Image 28 05 2024 At 15.30

Fatboy Slim-esque image created with Canva's Magic Studio™

We have stability, a solid product and a great roadmap, but we mustn't get complacent. 

We are at a crossroads. We have a number of changes, including End-of-Life and sunsets, and we have a new release candidate.

So where is the Umbraco community going?

It's not going anywhere, and running away is not the answer, so what areas could we look at?

  • Members: Let's bring this full circle back to Jeffrey's dream in 2015! Let's figure out how to improve the member's section; it's been ten years.

  • Search: Let's do more with search. Examine is a good product with great functionality, but we could and should improve our capabilities by using the DXP and composability that are now being built into the system.

  • Support: It's good and friendly (I know some changes are due), but we need to demand more through partnerships! 

  • Heartcore or headless, let's rebrand it (heartcore does not say headless in any language), is or could be a killer feature; let's demand that. 

  • Bellissima: We have a new implementation for the back office. Sure, it will take time to mature, but we, as the miners at the coal face, must embrace it and get feedback on the unseen daily practicalities, and we need to make them known to the HQ.

    How specifically can we help with Bellissima?

    - Build new data types, sections and workspaces, and make our editors happier. 

    - And don't leave all the work to Kevin Jump and Jacob Overgard 😉

Leading lights

In recent years, Umbraco HQ has taken on two leading lights (Lee Kelleher and Matt Brailsford). Between them, they have built numerous packages that are in use, such as:

  • Vorto

  • Stacked content

  • Nested content 

  • Contentment components

  • The artist formerly known as Vendr 

  • And many others

While I suspect nothing will ever stop Lee or Matt from making and contributing, we cannot and should not keep expecting and waiting for them...

The community is Umbraco's superpower

 That means we as a community have to step up. Umbraco knows this; we are and have been acknowledged as their superpower in public on various podcasts. 

We as a community now need to take hold of that power and use it properly (I feel a spider man meme would be appropriate)

So don't run away; I ask you to stand up to take the baton, push us as a community, and make sure we hold those things we hold dear

  • Collaboration
  • Friendliness
  • Innovation
  • Accessibility

It is those values that are the cornerstones of the Umbraco experience, which are still as relevant today as they were all those years ago.

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