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Monday, September 26, 2016 by Kris Deminick

Have you ever wondered who is on the other end of your support ticket or Intercom Chat? Ever sat squinting at the tiny avatars that might pop up trying to find a human face? Well we say it all the time at Umbraco - at the heart of Umbraco is ‘U’, our community and our customers - so we’re taking a moment to introduce the flesh and bones behind our fantastic support and service team, because who wants to hold hands with a stranger as they navigate the unknown!

If you didn’t know that Umbraco offers professional support plans - we do! To make sure you're never alone with Umbraco, we offer plans to fit every budget, workload or support need. With a support plan, you have a direct line into our very own Umbraco support heros.

Support Team

Meet your team

Our support team comes from a variety of different backgrounds, but all have one thing in common - they get a kick out of solving a problem. Part competitive, part empathy, part determination - the support guys are those people that love puzzles, riddles, and brain training/logic.

Meet Jim, new to Umbraco (as of September, 2016) but certainly not new to the world of web and customer service. Previously a project lead, Jim understands the project life cycle and the processes many of you follow as agencies or developers - he's been in your shoes! As an advocate of knowledge sharing, collaboration and open source, Jim is positioned perfectly in our support team through his urge to help the community. 

Rune is a "Jack of all Trades" and whilst mostly focused with on-boarding new users he has a wealth of knowledge on Umbraco, Umbraco as a Service and the implications of upgrades and new features in each release. He can support your entire journey from answering initial questions to helping diagnose a specific issue down the road.

Dennis is our Support Guru. At any given time he can tell you our ticket resolution rate, our average response time, or our level of customer satisfaction - which is usually high judging by the feedback he gets! With experience in e-commerce, Dennis saves your bacon when it comes to problems with the webshop, licenses, payment, transactions and user accounts.

Georgs studies web development, so is in the unique position of learning-by-doing and gaining exposure to many different ways of thinking, CMS choices and product solutions. He brings a curious mind and a willingness to try new things in name of finding improvements. A fresh approach to support and customer service!

Customer Service Mantra

Customer service at Umbraco isn't a department it's an attitude

Our support starts with our absolute love for the community, but where it ends is limitless! Fielding the queue of support tickets is not a simple open and close - they are responding, testing, resolving, escalating or turning tickets into reported bugs on our Issue Tracker. On average 399 tickets have been resolved each month during the last 12 months! Feedback and solutions learned from these tickets are recorded both internally and written into documentation. On top of this, new features, releases and patches are tested by the entire support team so they know exactly what new goodies you are about to play with and potentially need a hand with!

The support team are effectively the meeting point of technical and service so from day one, all support staff are given an induction by both the Development team and the SSS team. For example, they will learn the development workflows alongside the marketing tone of voice to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge to both diagnose and communicate on issues. All support staff take the Umbraco Fundamentals and MVC courses and are given the task to develop their own Umbraco website to get their hands dirty and “learn by doing”. This means you can be confident that they have literally been in your shoes and get where you are coming from.  

But it wouldn’t be the Umbraco way to restrict and confine our Support efforts to one place! Every day the entire team at Umbraco HQ, from developers to sales staff, to the Unicorn himself, respond to tweets, comments and new business leads to make sure when you interact with us, you are more than satisfied. This ensures that we all understand the experiences of our community. It is no use segregating a creator from the feedback on their work, else we’d never be building the product that delivers on your needs most! For example, everybody on the UaaS team has one dedicated support day a week, in which they're ready to help our initial frontline support on more detailed or complex requests.

What do our customers say?

At the end of the day, we feel Tuan Tan from Slack Customer Service says it well:

“We’re not just here to answer questions and clear the queue. We build relationships.”

And we’ve built some happy ones at that:

“Dennis was exceptionally helpful in resolving my issues, despite my limited knowledge on the topic. His help was truly a reflection of 'the friendliest CMS in the world' and as such I would happily recommend Umbraco service and support.”

“Rune has been of excellent help. He has gone far and beyond in helping us solve a serious problem, even when the issue finally turned out to be a server setup problem. I cannot recommend you all enough.”

If you think an Umbraco support plan may be for you, head to the support page to read more about each level of care. For more from the support team, stay tuned on the blog over the next few months as Jim will be posting his “Tips and Tricks” for the entire community to benefit from.

Friday, September 16, 2016 by sneum

On Wednesday 07/09/2016, Friday 09/09/2016 and Thursday 15/09/2016, multiple sites on Umbraco as a Service experienced various degrees of degradation. The following post mortem summarizes the impact of the outage, the cause and our lessons learned. We apologize for the inconvenience and cannot stress enough our determination in preventing issues like these from recurring. 

Outage of service in Umbraco as a Service, Wednesday 07/09/2016

On Wednesday 07/09/2016, several sites on Umbraco as a Service experienced downtime for 40 minutes on average. The outage is assumed to have taken place between 05:30 and 06:45 CEST.     

The outage was caused by an internal DNS and networking problem caused by a DNS server crashing. Even though secondary DNS was present this lead controller software to assume that all web workers were unavailable and therefore not responding to incoming requests.

We have partly replicated this behaviour on our test environment and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again. Further we have increased our monitoring and logging.


Lessons learned

  • We have increased our monitoring of sites and system.
  • We have increased our communication efforts following this incident which were in place when we, unfortunately, 2 days later experienced a new incident due to Microsoft Azure experiencing degradation in multiple services. Our increased communication efforts ensured that timely and relevant information reached our customers.     

Degradation of service in Umbraco as a Service, Friday 09/09/2016

On Friday the 09/09/2016 between 16.53 CEST and 20.16 CEST, Microsoft Azure experienced degradation in multiple services in West and North Europe. This resulted in a number of sites in Umbraco as a Service experiencing either partial or complete loss of connectivity.

With the implementation of a new monitoring system, we were notified immediately that sites were failing, we were also able to extract reporting figures and averages for downtime for all sites:

Average downtime/site: 22 minutes

Earliest start time: 09-09-2016 17:01:35

Latest end time: 09-09-2016 18:58:34

Longest affected time: 85 minutes

The report showed that 11.4% of all Umbraco as a Service sites experienced downtime and on average these sites experienced loss of connectivity for 22 minutes. No data was lost during the degradation.

Approximately 1,5 hours after the last affected UaaS site was up, Microsoft Azure reported that West Europe was fully restored. For more information about the issue e.g. customer impact, root cause and mitigation, please go to Microsoft Azure to read more: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/status/history/

Degradation of service in Umbraco as a Service, Thursday 15/09/2016

On Thursday the 15/09/2016 between 13:18 CEST and 15:00 CEST, Microsoft Azure experienced degradation in multiple services in multiple regions. This resulted in a number of sites in Umbraco as a Service experiencing either partial or complete loss of connectivity.

Figures and averages for downtime for all sites:

Average downtime/site: 24 minutes

Earliest start time: 15-09-2016 13:12:35

Latest end time: 15-09-2016 15:06:30

Longest affected time: 58 minutes

Our monitoring report show that 3,9 % af all Umbraco as a Service sites experienced downtime.

Full details regarding the Azure degradation can be found on the Microsoft Azure status page: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/status/history/


Final comments

We are aware that incidents described above takes its toll on customer satisfaction and patience. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at contact@umbraco.com

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 by Per Ploug

Umbraco 4 has to date been our longest running major version of Umbraco. Umbraco 4.0 was released in January 2009, and our last 4.* release was 4.11.10, which was released in June 2013.

An Umbraco Certification is the official stamp that you’ve been trained in Umbraco best practices. What was best practice in v4 is thankfully not what is best practice today. So, while Umbraco is fundamentally the same, a v4 based certification has lost its relevance.

It is therefore a natural progression that from March 31st 2017 we will make obsolete all Umbraco 4 certifications, and during Q1 2017 will offer online bridging courses for developers who have not yet attended Umbraco 6 or 7 training.

Massive changes since 2013

Umbraco 4 did serve us well, with all its technical marvels such as Masterpages, xslt, usercontrols and asp.net webforms, though looking at our training program in 2009, I must say a lot has changed since Umbraco 4:

These were the major topics of Umbraco 4 level 1 + 2 training:

  • Masterpages
    Replaced by cshtml views
  • Xslt
    Replaced by razor
  • Usercontrols
    Replaced by partial views
  • Asp.net webforms
    Replaced by asp.net mvc
  • Umbraco.cms.businesslogic APIs
    Replaced by Umbraco.Core.Services APIs
  • <umbraco:item> and <umbraco:macro>
    Replaced by @Umbraco.Field and @Umbraco.Macro

Obsolete from March 31st 2017

Therefore, from March 31st 2017 we are obsoleting all Umbraco 4 certifications, meaning that people who have not attended Umbraco 6 or 7 training will lose their Umbraco Certified Professional status.

Bridging Courses in Q1 2017

For developers who wish to keep their Certified Professional status, we will be offering 2 upgrade paths:

  • Level 1:
    An online bridging course will take place during Q1, this course will update your technical skills to match Umbraco 7, and build upon your fundamental knowledge from Umbraco 4.
  • Level 2:
    Umbraco, asp.net mvc and Visual Studio course is the perfect upgrade path for Umbraco 4 developers. This assumes fundamental knowledge of Umbraco and introduces the concepts of asp.net mvc and the new API’s. Courses are already listed in our course schedule.

FAQ:

  • Will I be removed from the list of certified developers?
    If you do not have certifications newer than an Umbraco 4 certification, then yes.
    If you have taken either Umbraco 6 or 7 certifications, then you will stay listed based on those.
    If you sign up for a future course or the Q1 bridging course, we will also hold off on delisting you, as we can see there is a plan for future certification updates in place.

    We will directly email developers and partners who are about to be delisted to give a heads up and suggestions on what to do.
      
  • Will we lose our Certified Partner status if we have three v6 based certifications and one v4 based, thus getting below the minimum required amount?
    We won't delist anyone who are in the process of updating their certifications, so if you are already enrolled in future training courses, or plan on attending the Q1 bridging course, then you are not losing any partner status. It is however a good opportunity to review your current certifications to ensure you have the minimum number required. If in doubt, please get in touch so we can assist you. 

  • As the online bridging course isn’t ready until Q1 and I’m worried about losing my certification by the end of Q4, is there anything I can do?
    First of all, get in touch, we can assist you through this transition phase. Secondly, we do not wish to delist anyone who is in the process of getting their certifications updated. So if we either know you are planning to attend training, or have already signed up, then you will not be removed. Signup for the online bridging courses will be available before November 1st, 2016.
    Update: after community feedback, we have postponed the end of life date by 3 months, so this should not be an issue anymore. 

Update - V4 certifications end-of-life postponed to March 31st 2017.  

As points are being raised by comments below and on twitter in regards to issues with having bridging courses available AFTER your certification expires. And yes in hindsight that has truly complicated the message we wanted to give you. So, we are changing our position slightly: 

V4 Certifications will stay listed untill March 31st 2017, instead of January 1st. That means there are no grey areas on when you actually have a certification or not, and you will have 3 additional months to get certifications in place - if you for various reasons can't attend a Course until after March 31st, get in touch with us, so we know you are actively working on renewing your certifications.    

 

For Certified Partners and developers who are unsure if these changes have any effect on their certification status, please get in touch with me at: per@umbraco.com for help.

 

 

Monday, August 29, 2016 by Andrew Barta

Our most recent North American Umbraco training was held in Jacksonville, Florida. Not only did this training come with loads of sunshine but it also came with a lively group of attendees. At the end of the Fundamentals training this energetic group was kind enough to share some of their takeaways with us. Below are a few words from the attendees; both issues that they are able to solve because of the training and insight into who would value from these trainings.

Camilo Sanchez, Software Engineer at IPC Subway
"There are many things that we can leverage right out of the examples in the training workbook. I got a lot of ideas out of the training and the guidance is really good. Very comprehensive.

Additionally, during this course I got to understand the importance of Document Types. We've been using them in the past but we weren't sure how important they were. Everything that we do in this course starts with Document Types and before today, we did not always follow that. Before the training there were many areas of Umbraco we hacked our way into. The training showed us the proper way to do it. It has been very good, money well spent!"

Charles Bryant, Senior Software Engineer at DiscoverTec
"Very detailed course covering the basics in a way that even someone familiar with Umbraco can get something out of the training."

 Angelo Zodda, Human Factors Engineer at IPC Subway
"Before Umbraco training we were trying to create a slider that took over two hours to build out. With the Fundamentals workbook we saw how to create one with best practices over one exercise."

 DiscoverTec Employee
"Though I trained with Umbraco.TV fairly extensively, there is no replacement for actually talking and discussing the finer points with a human being. Really clarified a lot for me."

I want to extend a big thank you to the folks above for a great course and taking the time to give some feedback on the Fundamentals training. If you or your team would like to follow in their footsteps and sharpen your Umbraco skills, sign up for one of the upcoming trainings near you.

Friday, August 26, 2016 by vera

Umbraco Gold Partner byte5 has sent us this great guest post about their first Umbraco Hackathon. An afternoon that turned into an evening full of detective work, problem-solving, learning and probably a lot of coffee. A massive H5YR! from us to you for embracing what Umbraco CMS is all about - being open and transparent so that everyone can suggest and contribute with solutions to make Umbraco even better. And have a look at that post-it creation - truly impressive! 

Problems and solutions at Frankfurt’s first Umbraco Hackathon

The sixth group meeting for the members of Umbraco-Meetup Rhein/Main was all about source code. In the first Umbraco-themed hackathon in the German region, developers from Frankfurt and its surrounding area – supported by their colleagues at Umbraco HQ – worked tirelessly in order to locate problems, patch errors and improve the system.

The huge Umbraco logo made of Post-its on the rear office wall shows at first sight what the meetup of Umbracians in the Rhein-Main region around Frankfurt is to be all about: “The centre of today’s event is the open source CMS that we work with every day in these rooms. Our goal for today’s activity is to return some own solutions for the system to our colleagues in Odense, Denmark.” Christian Köhler, byte5 operative manager, explains. For working with Umbraco – for him and his colleagues at byte5 – means both: giving and taking. “Our aim is not only to help improve the Umbraco core, but also to promote Umbraco in our region and give developers opportunities to network and share their experience.”

When it comes to the tasks that the developers have picked that afternoon, there’s often a fine line between success and failure. “We have specifically searched for issues on Umbraco’s to-do list that can theoretically be fixed in a few hours. But what seems to be simple at first glance often proves itself more complicated than expected. Then you have to go further into the details and also work with the developers in Denmark in order to go for the right solution.” byte5 chief developer, Sören Deger, says. His job at the hackathon was to coordinate the developer projects for which he stayed in touch with Umbraco developer Sebastiaan Jansen all afternoon. The two issues that he picked for himself will probably require a few more days and weeks of work: “With our analysis of the problems and first ideas on how to solve them, an important step has been made, though.”

Luckier with his choice of issue was certified developer David Brendel, who finished his first pull request – a modification for upcoming Umbraco major release 8.0 – after only a few minutes: “What I did was to move the member types tree from the Umbraco members section into the settings area. This way the function will be more secure in the future and editors will be able to work much more comfortably with Umbraco.” The developer’s motivation to take part in the hackathon was the fact that he has worked on the Umbraco core before and enjoys being part of the lively community: “I just like being able to work on a community project where we all motivate and help each other and share the experience.”

 

However, for byte5 developers Eike Hanus and Theresa Danowski the hackathon experience turned out to be more of a detective’s task throughout the evening: “You really need a lot of patience even when working on potentially simple display errors since many problems are not based where you’d actually expect them to be,” Eike Hanus explains. Still, the hackathon has been immensely informative for him for one simple reason: “You get the opportunity to learn about system characteristics that you’ve never worked with before. Especially those using Umbraco professionally can profit from this experience.”

Do you want to read the original blog post from byte5? Here it is (auf Deutch, natürlich)