My First Alfresco DevCon

Here's something I wrote last Friday:

I'm back at my desk after a busy and tiring, but immensely fun and rewarding, Alfresco DevCon. It's my first Developer Conference and one of the first things I noticed was the incredible amount of appreciation for the Alfresco Engineers: people genuinely love the product and platform we've built, they've built careers on our code, they're excited by the ideas we have for the future and our opinions on their implementations. That's both encouraging and humbling.

For me, the best part of DevCon was talking to people who actually use Alfresco, who take the code we write and put it to work to do their jobs or achieve their client's goals. Their stories are what made the DevCon great for me. The strength of the Alfresco ecosystem was readily apparent in the myriad of ways people have built products on top of Alfresco: from document scanning solutions to social content capture, from Clojure backed web script extensions to a project full of Share extras. Discussing these ideas, whether it's on stage to hundreds of delegates, with one person over lunch or at 3am in a karaoke bar with founding engineers, seems to be the essence of DevCon.

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(Photos © Alfresco, from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alfrescosoftware )

At the end of the event, when the engineers were all sat on stage, throwing ourselves to the mercy of the audience's questions, Jeff invited the community to make pledges of how they would contribute in the next year. My pledge is to get more involved in the Share Extras project. I've already spoken to Will with a couple of ideas I had during his talk and will follow up on these next week. Ideas like: opening up some of the internal tools we use to create, check and maintain the supported language bundles; ensuring the British English language pack takes advantage of the latest date and calendar customisation options in 4.0; sharing OAuth tips learnt during the development of the Social Publishing features.

During the evening event I was asked a question that surprised me, in fact I was asked it twice over the course of the evening by two different attendees from different European countries. It was a simple question, but one that revealed a lot about the global nature of Alfresco. I was asked why I was wearing a red paper flower. A poppy from The Royal British Legion's annual Poppy Appeal is a ubiquitous symbol in this country, a focal point of the Remembrance Day tributes we make each year on the anniversary of Armistice Day. Its meaning is something every child in Britain learns about in school - I'd say it's one of the most widely recognised and respected symbols we have. Wearing a poppy is a behaviour we understand, one we expect. Yet that obviously is not the same elsewhere. In the UI team we put quite a lot of effort into building an interface that people will find easy to use; we try to use symbols people understand and behaviours they expect, but that isn't always possible. That doesn't stop people using Alfresco: the fact that people can take the Alfresco and customise it to fit their specific use-case, one which the engineers may not know exists, is one of the fantastic things about Alfresco.

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