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uProfile February 2024 - Richard Jackson

Introducing Richard Jackson: Embracing Umbraco and Community Engagement

Richard Jackson Main
Written by Richard Jackson

For this month's uProfile, join us in learning more about Umbraco Community newcomer, Richard Jackson. Richard has been on quite the whistle-stop tour of what it means to be involved with the Umbraco Community. From figuring out the basics and asking questions about our open-source CMS, to speaking at events, the last 12 months have really been an adventure filled with warm welcomes, technical help and perhaps more importantly; new friends.

  • Name: Richard Jackson
  • Pronouns: He/Him
  • Company name: Nightingale HQ
  • Role: Cloud Software Engineer
  • Country/region: Cardiff, UK
  • Working with Umbraco for: 1 year


Head shot of Richard Jackson

Getting started with Umbraco, led to joining the Community

My journey into the Umbraco Community started because Carl Sargunar told me to, and I listen to Carl. I also listened to the other members of the .NET community who also had good things to say about Umbraco, but mostly it was Carl. I had previously been more involved in the Python community, using frameworks such as Django and Mezzanine CMS, and so was looking for the equivalents within the .NET space - ASP.NET Core and Umbraco became those equivalents.

My initial experiences of the community were largely through the Social Media Network Formally Known As Twitter. I had started a thread of my initial learnings, struggles and difficulties, which was soon discovered and interacted with by the likes of Warren Buckley and Callum Whyte. It was when I made my first PR to the Umbraco docs that I appreciated how special the community was - my PR *vanished* (i.e. I messed up somewhere), Sofie Toft pointed out that she couldn’t find it, so I remade it, and was met with the positivity of Shanice Dougan:

Image of a tweet by Shanice Dougan, Umbraco HQ member, commenting on Richard Jackson's pull request efforts

Tweet showing Shanice Dougan being supportive and kind about my reattempted PR

The entire experience of having so many people being so supportive was really quite something to me at the time (for context, January Blues were also Very Real last year). It was the perfect combination of me looking for a CMS and a CMS with a welcoming group of individuals around it. I haven’t looked back since!

Contributing by helping others and being friendly is my jam

My contributions to the community have largely been through consistently attending events and generally being supportive! I’ve tried to just Be At Stuff, and, further to that, Be Nice While Being At Stuff, and that appears to have been well received so far! Honestly, my primary goal for this last year has to be to get to know other Umbraco users, to understand the past, present and future of the software, and to be an evergreen ambassador for being friendly.

As a former educator I’ve found myself focusing on areas such as onboarding and supporting other new Umbraco users - my contributions to the Umbraco codebase itself have largely been adjustments to the documentation (shout-outs to the Docs Team!). I’m also passionate about communication, and so was delighted to give a talk on “Process Mapping and Empathy” at UmBristol to further evangelise the benefits of peace, love and understanding.

Learning and connection has brought the best moments

I’ve enjoyed relative ‘success'  as far as Umbraco events and activities have been involved. My first year with Umbraco was also my first year giving talks at tech events, and I’ve been so grateful to the organisers of UmBristol, London Umbraco Meetup and UmbraCymru for inviting me to speak at their events. These community events have given me the opportunity to learn to give talks, with regular opportunities to do so to receptive and kind audiences, and I strongly advocate for anyone looking for speaker experience to reach out to a meetup organiser. 

I closed out last year with the article “365 Days In Umbraco” for the “24 Days in Umbraco” advent calendar/blog series (shout out to the whole team of 24 Days In, Skrift and friends for coordinating this!), and I was honoured to be invited to give a festive appearance on UmbraCoffee’s December edition (please subscribe to their YouTube channel).

Richard, Callum and Marcin on UmbraCoffee, December 2023

Richard, Callum and Marcin on UmbraCoffee, December 2023

I feel that having my application to CODECABIN23 was a real watershed moment of feeling that my contributions were being received as warmly as I’d hoped. The event itself was a joy, spent getting to know those who’d dedicated much of their professional life to building, contributing and maintaining Umbraco and Umbraco accessories (/packages). Shout-out to Lucy Brailsford for a) being a legend and b) providing the catering while putting up with my strange dietary requirement of, based on the fact I was currently wearing dental braces, “squishy food”.

Richard and some of the CODECABIN23 crew on a hike

Richard and some of the CODECABIN23 crew on a hike

People. It's what keeps me coming back for more

While Umbraco is a brilliant piece of technology, the people who are drawn to it and the relationships forged around it are what enthuse me. So it's the people that keep me coming back for more. I’m a strong advocate for Community-Driven Development and feel Umbraco’s is one of the most supportive and active communities around, and one that I am proud to be a member of.

What helped me when joining the community, might just help you

When talking about joining, or contributing, or just “doing stuff”, I think of Neil Gaiman’s trifecta of win conditions for “work”, and the notion that you only need to do two of them:

  1. Be Nice - Within the community of a technology that brands itself as “The Friendly CMS” (shout-outs to Hudson Maul), this could be seen as a given attribute for its members. In my opinion there have been fewer finer accounts of what this means within the context of Umbraco than Laura Weatherhead’s Skrift article “Umbraco: The Next Chapter”, specifically the “Forever Friendly” section, so I invite you to all go and read that. (And personally, I feel that using my own uProfile to support other people’s work is sort of the point)
  2. Be Competent - Competency, knowledge and ability are always going to be beneficial! Tech (and, really, any industry) is built on skills being applied by capable individuals. What I will highlight is the value in niche and specificity - is there a facet that you are particularly interested in? If so, I would always recommend deep diving into a subject matter and creating value for others through your knowledge. To quote David Whitney, "You do not have to solve the totality of a problem to make a meaningful difference to people’s lives. Doing something is mostly better than nothing”.

  3. Be Punctual - I honestly feel there is so much to be said for the courtesy of deadlines, especially when establishing oneself within a new group. As someone who’s increasingly receiving more opportunities to speak, or write, or be involved (and as someone who’s been on the organising side of similar projects) I feel the notion of submitting something by the deadline is immensely underrated. I also feel that the momentum of opportunity is self-perpetuating; you show up at stuff, you take an opportunity to do stuff, you deliver stuff (on-time), you get asked to do more stuff because you get a reputation for being a safe pair of hands. 

Opportunity begets quality, perfect is the enemy of good, all that jazz.

Future plans and aspirations

To get better at using Umbraco!

My promise to myself (/New Year’s Resolution/Peacock Vow) for 2024 is to “Do Less, Better”. Being quite a “wide” learner, always drawn to the next shiny thing, I’m now aiming to be more of a “deep” learner, to more fully understand the tools that are in front of me. The newest iterations of Umbraco, with the recently released v13, opens up incredible flexibility for the platform as a whole, and v14, featuring Bellissima, looming in the distance (“Bellissima Looming” gives sci-fi action thriller vibes imo, definitely starring Tom Cruise or Lee Kelleher. Maybe Tom Cruise *AS* Lee Kelleher?!).

Fun facts, hidden talents and more

Outside of my 9-5 my primary focus is on music making. Having recently moved away from being a full-time professional musician (fun fact - one in three music industry jobs were lost during pandemic - source) I still make sure to make time for my creative side, primarily under the artist name JacksorJacksor. You can find my music on all the usual streaming services. Last year I released an EP called “GoodChaos”, which was recorded in one day and involved forming a multi-instrumental ten-piece band featuring three flutes and three saxophones. That band has continued (we’re now dubbed “JacksorJacksor and The Lovely Ensemble”) and we perform regularly with a mercurial line-up of whoever happens to be around for the show!

Richard with his band JacksorJacksor And The Lovely Ensemble

Richard with his band JacksorJacksor And The Lovely Ensemble

When I’m not at work, and not sculpting wiggly air or finding extra flautists for last minute performances, I can be found running, bouldering, reading (currently working through the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb) or playing Slay The Spire. I’ve also recently taken out a Dropout subscription so am binging my way through Game Changer, Dimension 20 and Breaking News, and I have no idea if any of those things will mean anything to anyone reading this (but you should definitely check them out!).

Some other things about me include:

  • Spent eight days canoeing around the Algoniquin provincial park (Canada) for my Duke of Edinburgh Gold award.
  • Have jumped out a plane (unrelated to the canoeing, though what a way to start the expedition??).
  • Play guitar for Wales-based jazz/funk legends Wonderbrass.
  • Can be found wild swimming off the Welsh coast most mornings (taken a break for winter because, you know, *gestures broadly outside*).
  • Just completed the 30 Day Yoga for Adriene “Flow” challenge for January 2024!

Was recently part of an accompanying exhibition for National Theatre Wales’s production “Circle Of Fifths”, and was interviewed about my opinions on the relationship between grief and music: Richard Jackson | National Theatre Wales

Richard with a photo of Richard at the premiere of National Theatre Wales’s “Circle Of Fifths”, October 2023

Richard with a photo of Richard at the premiere of National Theatre Wales’s “Circle Of Fifths”, October 2023

Stay in touch!

I use X (twitter), Instagram, YouTube and bandcamp, but you can also find me on Github


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