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uProfile September 2021: Mike Allen

Meet Mike, Director of Software Engineering from the U.S. with tons of Umbraco experience and community meetup tips galore!

Mike Allen Profile Photo
Written by Mike Allen

This month’s uProfile has been a long-running Principal Software Engineer and in-house Umbraco expert, as well as co-heading the meetup in Minneapolis, US. But he’s passing on the baton as he moves up to his new role as Director of Software Engineering! Come and hear Mike tell you about his journey...

Mike Allen

Company name: Emergent Software

Job title: Director of Software Engineering (as of this month!)

Country: United States

Working with Umbraco since: 2013, starting with Umbraco 4

Spirit animal: Dolphin 🐬

 

A long-term Umbraco love story

You could say that I’ve had a long and involved relationship with Umbraco for almost a decade.

I love working with the CMS because of the clean content entry backend and how easy it is to program against. Other CMSes I’ve used force you into their coding patterns but Umbraco really gets out of the way and lets us do anything we want with our custom code. I just launched a two-year project to rebuild a site with a large dealer network and a lot of integrations into a line of business systems. It was a lot of work but really satisfying to see it go live.

My proudest moment was optimizing an Umbraco site to be able to handle an enormous traffic load. Originally, the site was crashing with around 250 concurrent requests and grinding to a halt, but after a lot of profiling, debugging, and tweaking, I was able to optimize the site to handle many thousands of concurrent requests. I never found a limit because my stress testing tool maxed out and the site was still running fine, really proving that Umbraco can handle enterprise levels of traffic!

Here we are at a Minneapolis meetup before we had to switch to being digital because of Covid.

Here we are at a Minneapolis meetup before we had to switch to being digital because of Covid.

 

It all began with a ‘fest’

My dive into the Umbraco community started when I attended my first US Festival in 2018. Prior to that, the only Umbracians I really knew were my co-workers. The festival made me see that the Umbraco community is large, global, and welcoming! I met a lot of people at the conference, including none other than Kevin Meilander, and we would then go on to set up the Minneapolis meetup together.

During COVID-19, we, like many others, switched to being a digital meetup. Of course, it’s more fun meeting in person, but going virtual meant we’ve been able to meet even more Umbraco users in the Midwest US! It can be tricky starting a meetup group in the US down to the sheer distance between people.

We’ve definitely learned some lessons from going virtual in these COVID-19 times that we will start using, like holding regional meetups for the Midwest. Once you’ve got some attendance, organizing a meetup group is really not as hard or intimidating as you think! Everything will fall into place, and you even have access to support and resources from Umbraco HQ - so use them! A little while ago I wrote an article for Skrift Magazine where I shared 5 tips for starting a meetup - you can read it here if you’re interested.

Outdoors or indoors, I simply love to climb!

 

3 best tips for an Umbraco newbie:

💡 Models Builder is your friend. Once you get this set up, you get to work against strongly-typed models and the code becomes really intuitive. It’s just an MVC site where the M (model) and C (controller) come from Umbraco.

💡 Learn to extend Umbraco. Dovetailing off my first tip, you can extend the model and controller to do whatever you want with the data. The sky is the limit, you’ve got yourself a custom website now and Umbraco is your data source.

💡 Think about the content editors! It’s easy to think of the Doc Types as just the data you need in your code, but they also define how content editors will use the back office and what content entry will look like. You’re basically designing the CMS. The naming, flow, and descriptions will make or break the content entry experience.

 

3 things about the non-Umbraco me:

🏔 I love to rock climb! I get through the cold Minnesota winters by climbing at our indoor climbing gyms. The gyms all closed for COVID but they’re opening back up and I can’t wait to get back to it.

🎧 Currently, I have Leon Bridges’ new “Gold-Diggers Sound” album on repeat. I really like his previous albums and I’m still letting this one soak in to get a good feel for it.

🐬 My spirit animal is a dolphin! They’re so intelligent and playful. I also love to swim and have done a lot of open water (lake and ocean) long-distance swims. Swimming with dolphins is definitely on my bucket list.

 

Here I am with my family 👪

What’s next?

Well, it’s on to new adventures for me as I start my new role as Director of Software Engineering at Emergent Software!

I’ve been the Principal Software Engineer for a long time, but my role over the past few years has been transitioning from “building cool things” to “building a cool team”. I look forward to taking on an even bigger team focus and seeing all the cool things they’ll make. It’s great because I can introduce Umbraco to new developers, and watch them go on their own journey of encountering and falling in love with Umbraco.

With my team at Emergent Software - I can't wait for new adventures as I start my new role as Director of Software Engineering!

With my team at Emergent Software - I can't wait for new adventures as I start my new role as Director of Software Engineering!

 

Would you like to connect?

The very best way is to connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can also come and say hi at our upcoming meetup on 16th September 👋

 

 


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