GeeUp conference – Leiden 2016

After a year of intermission, we headed back to Leiden for the second GeeUp conference.

In 2014, 4 of us from work attended both the conference and the workshop. Back then, there was a big focus on Expression Engine (we follow the workshop on EE plugin development), bringing in mostly people from the EE scene. The conference itself covered much broader topics and it was definitely worthwhile for us.

Today, in 2016, the conference focused on Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine, drawing much of the same crowd as it did 2 years ago. And while we don’t actively build new projects with Expression Engine these days nor have we gotten into Craft, 2 of us from work, Wietse and myself,  wanted to attend the conference anyway. Getting to know other systems and taking inspiration from those is always valuable.

We left for Leiden on Wednesday evening by train, making a quick stop over in Rotterdam for burgers and drinks. We checked into our hotel, dropped of our stuff and went for another drink in town.

On Thursday we attended a full day workshop on Craft Commerce, the e-commerce add-on for Craft CMS that was released about 6 months ago. The day was led by Luke Holder, the lead-developer for Commerce over at Pixel & Tonic. We started off with general settings and principals and quickly got into some code after that: hooks, events and how plugins can use them. In the afternoon we went over a new plugin P&T is releasing this week: Digital Products for Craft Commerce. Think WordPress EDD but for Craft CMS. After some Q&A we called it a day but stuck around the venue to work out some ideas for plugins we could build for Craft CMS.

The day ended with a couple of beers in the sun at Annie’s, Thai food and then cocktails with the other GeeUp folks at Bon Vivant (that last one is worth checking out if you’re ever in Leiden, best whiskey sour I’ve ever had).

Friday morning we headed back to Scheltema for day 2, the conference itself. We had a cup (or 2) of coffee, chatted with some of the other attendees and then got settled in for the talks. Attendance seemed to be down from 2014, making it very small and intimate conference. That fitted the venue and the speakers perfectly and I quite liked the smaller group.

Talks this year ranged from inspirational on adaptive design, automated testing, technical debt, ethics in web development and how to survive doing customer support all day. Lots of interesting and engaging topics that left me asking questions and wondering how I/we can do things differently, both at the office and in my freelance work.

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After the last talk we hung around for a drink and it was off to the station to catch the train home via Rotterdam (above) and Antwerp.

In his closing remarks, Low (from gotolow EE fame, he makes this conference happen) said that this was probably the last time he was going to organize. While I can certainly understand that (loads of work and staying break-even on such a small conference is very hard), it would be great to have the conference again next year or in a year or 2 🙂 Either way, I should plan a trip to Leiden sometime because I also really like the city.

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