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Monday, October 5, 2015

uProfile - Charles Roper

Name: Charles Roper @charlesroperCharles Roper

Location: UK

Job role/company:IT Developer at Field Studies Council, an environmental education organisation.

Started working with Umbraco: When I started at FSC at the beginning of 2015. It's been a little over 6 months so far and I'm loving it. By far the best CMS I've ever used. I also only started learning C#, .NET and Angular this year too. I've always been on Windows PCs but had used mostly non-Microsoft open source stuff for web development for many years (apart from a brief spell on ASP classic in the late 90s) so it's been quite an interesting and surprisingly pleasurable shift. Microsoft and the .NET community seem to be invigorated with good energy since Satya Nadella took over and the work to open source .NET began. Feels like I'm joining at just the right time.

What projects you currently working on?
FSC is a very diverse organisation and we're a very small IT team. So I've been working on integrations between our CRM and Umbraco, using Angular on the front end. We've also been restructuring and redesigning parts of our main website, and spinning up a microsite here and there. Also been working on some biodiversity data capture tooling. It's been a pretty intense learning curve, but learning new stuff is what motivates me, so it's all good.

What is your favourite Umbraco moment or achievement?
I loved attending Doug's Masterclass in London (at the mindblowing office of Moriyama, I believe - what stunning views), meeting other Umbracians, enjoying beer and chat at the pub afterwards. I could tell this is a community I could feel at home in.

What piece of Umbraco work you are most proud of?
Haven't done much yet, but all I have done - the various bits and pieces - I'm proud of. I feel very lucky to be in a position where I get to work with great tools, with great colleagues in an organisation doing important work. I'd say I feel lucky and honoured rather than proud right now. There are so many jobs that suck out there, and it's so easy to get burned out in this industry, yet it's amazing that here I am at 40 and it still feels fresh and enjoyable.

What about Umbraco keeps you coming back for more?
I love its clean, pragmatic design and how a fresh install assumes nothing: no pre-existing structure and no HTML/CSS/Javascript to hack out. That's what I always disliked about, say, Drupal. A completely blank slate feels so much more approachable to someone like me who started building sites using simple, static HTML and later CSS in the 90s. I also like the templating language - Razor. It's super easy and intuitive to get started with. The ensemble of data types, doctypes, templates, partials and macros feels like a really well rounded toolkit. I've yet to dive very far beyond these elemental aspects of Umbraco, but I'm genuinely looking forward to deepening my knowledge.

It would also be remiss of me not to mention the community here. It's funny because, before I started at FSC, I was reading books about happiness at work (The Happy Manifesto by "Happy" Henry Stewart for example) and really got into that whole ethos. So when I saw you'd had Alexander Kjerulf keynoting at CodeGarden I was like, whoa, this community is awesome! It was like a weird, profound alignment of the stars - I had by pure fluke ended up working with technology driven by people with the same values as myself. Serendipity at its finest.

What would we find on your desk at work?
Ha, good question. It's a bit of a mess to be honest. None of this minimalist nonsense for me. There's my laptop: a humble-looking but awesomely specced ThinkPad which I adore. I've also still got my fUnc sUrface mouse mat from my gaming days - it's basically made of Teflon. There are papers, a Black & Red notebook, pens, a couple of smartphones, a tablet, a couple of USB lights from IKEA, headphones and a few other bits. I've also got a signed Boba Fett picture on my wall.

Tell us something interesting about yourself
I used to live in Alton Towers as a teenager - Britain's answer to Disneyland. My Dad was one of the directors there and we had this house on the park. I could just roll out of bed and go ride rollercoasters all day. After the park closed me and my friends would skateboard around the place. I rode on one of the 'coasters with Kylie Minogue once. It was a pretty crazy life. I remember lying in bed at night listening to the roar of dinosaurs coming from the nearby log flume.

After Alton Towers we were back in southern England and I built a couple of mini-ramps in my back garden. I wasn't a great skater, but I loved building things and creating a scene - a community. I'm sure this is what informed my love of community-based gaming and later open source and online communities.

What is your favourite video game?
I used to be very into games. My first computer was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum which I got when I was 10. I did two things on that thing: learned BASIC and played games. My favourite game on it was probably JetPac. Later on in the early 2000s I was properly into CounterStrike. I headed-up a clan of about 30 people called the Last Boy Scouts. We had a reputation for being one of the most fun clans around. I enjoyed the community aspects as much as the game itself - it was great having this multi-country network of remote friends. Lately the augmented reality game Ingress has been pretty interesting - like nothing else that has been before. Sort of a cross between geocaching and capture the flag. But again, it's the community aspects that make it so interesting.

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One of the biggest benefits of using Umbraco is that the community is incredibly pro-active, extremely friendly and helpful.

Chances are that if you get an idea for something you would like to build in Umbraco, someone has already built it. So it is very likely that you can get good and friendly advice from someone from the Umbraco community on Our - just ask.

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