DEV Community

Sean G. Wright for WiredViews

Posted on

Kentico Connection: Denver 2019 - My Experiences

Downtown Denver at dusk

All photos by Me :)

I previously wrote about my expectations for Kentico Connection: Denver 2019 conference:

Having now attending the conference and spent nearly a week out in Denver, Colorado, I'd like to reflect on the event and whether or not my expectations were met ๐Ÿค”.

What I Experienced

First-Time Attendee

I definitely felt like a first-time attendee, which had its pros and cons.

Everything about the conference was new to me - the structure, content, personality, and especially the people ๐Ÿ˜ฎ.

Having not been engaged with the Kentico community previously, this was the first time I ever spoke to nearly all the people there, and it was definitely the first time I met any face-to-face.

Kentico Connection attendees

While other attendees were catching up like old friends, I was being bombarded (in the best way possible!) by handshakes, new names and faces, and questions about my blog and presentation.

I can't really compare the only other conference I know, NG-Conf, to Kentico Connection, because Angular has such a larger reach and community, whereas Kentico is a much more niche product.

That said, the things I've always enjoyed about NG-Conf held true for Kentico Connection ๐Ÿ˜€:

  • Friendly people
  • Great conversations
  • Welcoming community
  • Well organized conference
  • Solid presenters and talks
  • Exciting product announcements
  • Leaving with a desire to return next year!

The Community

Dinner with Kentico partners

I now feel, more than ever, connected and engaged with the larger Kentico community - and it's very reassuring to know that there is a Kentico community out there, excited for new developers and new voices ๐Ÿค—.

I received lots of great feedback about my Kentico-related blog posts here on DEV, and my presentation.

It's really nice to know that everything I've been writing about Kentico is helping others and, in some cases, inspiring others to start blogging and participating in the community ๐Ÿ˜Ž.

So, I now want to report my findings clearly: The Kentico community is out there and wants you to join it. If your company is looking for a CMS solution and you are unsure about which product will provide the development support you feel you need, check out Kentico.

The City

I stayed in an AirBnb in Denver, which was the right decision because it gave me a nice 15 minute walk ๐Ÿšถโ€โ™‚๏ธ, to and from the hotel where the conference was, each day.

I stayed in one of my favorite parts of Denver, just a bit south of Five Points, near a bunch of great craft breweries and restaurants.

The highlights for me were:

Zocalito Latin Bistro - great mole and Oaxacan cuisine ๐Ÿ 

Oaxacan chicken

Woods Boss Brewing Company - cool space, solid craft beer ๐Ÿป

Woods Bos Brewing

Goed Zuur - eclectic beer (lots of sours) and charcuterie... mmm ๐Ÿบ๐Ÿฅ“๐Ÿง€

Charcuterie board

The Company

Keynote session

I had been looking forward to conversations and general brain-picking with the Kentico employees, and I didn't leave the conference disappointed.

I met product owners, most of the developer relations (devrel) team, and the Kentico EMS technical lead.

The devrel team did a great job of reaching out to me at the conference and making sure I knew they appreciated the content I've been putting out for the Kentico community here.

And honestly, I think this - simple 'thank you's - is something that is easy to forget about ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Those of of us who blog and contribute to open source know how much time goes into these efforts and we don't expect or demand recognition, but when we get some, it instantly recharges our inspiration and motivation โšก.

Thanks guys ๐Ÿ™!

Downtown Denver

It was also really cool to talk with the Kentico Kontent and Kentico EMS product owners/representatives about their thoughts on the things they are in charge of.

I feel I now have a much better idea of where Kentico, as an organization, sees its products, and also where and how it wants to grow them.

I've tried to explain what I learned and my impressions to my co-workers at WiredViews so that we can position ourselves best to support businesses using Kentico EMS and Kentico Kontent.

Finally, I had a fantastic conversation, at one of the post-conference events, with the technical lead for Kentico EMS.

I was able to talk 'shop' and ask all the questions I had, from a technical perspective, about Kentico as a solution, its implementation details, the plans for bringing Kentico to .NET Core, and how some of its APIs and features might change in the near and longer-term future ๐Ÿค“.

These kind of conversations are why I value going to conferences, and why I'd recommend you attend a Kentico Connection event if you work with Kentico as a developer.

What I Learned


.NET Core session

ASP.NET Core is coming to Kentico EMS, and it's coming faster than you might think โŒš.

Kentico 2020 / Kentico 13 / Kentico Phoenix are all monikers of the same thing - the next generation of Kentico EMS being built on ASP.NET Core so that developers can leverage the latest and greatest in the .NET ecosystem.

Planned for (if I remember correctly) September, 2020, the next version of Kentico is going to be a great thing for us devs ๐Ÿ‘.

That said, the move from .NET Framework and MVC 5 to .NET Core and ASP.NET Core might require some work for developers and businesses.

All the internal (and 3rd party) .NET libraries, that have been leveraged repeatedly to speed up development time, need to be .NET Core compatible if they are going to be used in the next version of Kentico.

Kentico has been preparing for their migration over the past several versions, but we need to prep our code as well.

If you are looking to start migrating to .NET Core early, check out my post Kentico 12 Class Libraries with Modern .NET Core Features ๐Ÿง:

I'm, to put it simply, super-hyped for the opportunity to build Kentico EMS applications with ASP.NET Core, and I'm counting down the days ๐Ÿ˜ƒ!

The MVC 5 Transition

View from the stage

In the US, Kentico MVC adoption is sitting at 40% (which is apparently lower than Europe, but I don't have their stat). This means that teams are moving forward with the transition away from Web Forms and Kentico Portal Engine development and towards MVC 5 with Kentico 12.

I find this super exciting!

Yes, there's still 60% to go, but this change isn't a trivial one and for lots of teams, the Portal Engine development process has been refined to perfection over many years - the same can't be said for estimating project deadlines and complexity for Kentico + MVC ๐Ÿ˜‘.

Therefore, seeing 40% adoption is, I think, encouraging for the larger Kentico community. There are going to be resources for those who haven't made the switch yet, in blog posts, open source projects, and a general confirmation that "Yes, this is possible."

I know my presentation raised lots of questions from other developers and business leaders at the conference, but the feeling I got was that these questions weren't coming from a place of apprehension, but rather a desire to be armed with the best tools when venturing into unfamiliar lands ๐Ÿค .

Developers in the Kentico community are smart and will be able to adopt MVC as a technical solution, if they haven't already. The real question remaining is, how long will it take to be as comfortable with MVC as they are with Portal Engine?

For those interested, here you can find the link to the slides for my presentation From the Ground Up: Kentico 12 MVC Design Patterns.

Even if you saw my presentation, I had to 'hide' a large number of slides to fit within the time constraints, so there's some content in there I didn't get to share in Denver ๐Ÿ˜‰.

Kentico Kontent

I've only explored Kentico Kontent briefly, working with the Gridsome plugin, but I find the idea of Content as a Service (Caas) very interesting.

At Kentico Connection, Kentico Kontent was presented as a solution for enterprises wishing to have centralized content management, both for multi-channel delivery (think Web, Mobile, Smart-home devices, ect...) and organizational governance (who can edit what and ensuring content and messaging are consistent across an organization) ๐Ÿคฏ.

The price points for Kentico Kontent definitely reflect it being targeted at more mature businesses, but the free tier does look like it might be a great option for smaller companies that might not fit with a Kentico EMS solution, but still want a fully customized and fast CMS solution.

I plan on blogging some about my explorations into Kentico Kontent, and some leaders in the Kentico community have already started to here on DEV:

What I Brought Back

A beer on a patio

After recovering from an exciting but exhausting week in Denver, and catching up on everything I missed back at the office, I had a great meeting with my co-workers, describing to them my impressions of the Kentico Connection conference and what my key takeaways were.

I think, more than anything, what I've come back with is a desire to stay engaged with the larger Kentico community and do my small part to help it grow and mature ๐Ÿ˜.

Based on my conversations with other developers at the conference, I feel confident that WiredViews' technical approach to Kentico 12 MVC projects is very solid, but we are definitely novices when it comes to exploring the opportunities enabled by Kentico Kontent.

Based on my conversations with business leaders, I feel confident that WiredViews is well positioned in the Kentico solutions marketplace to help businesses implement their Kentico projects with our unique skill-sets and deep pool of experience ๐Ÿ˜Ž.

However, there's lots of changes always happening in the CMS, marketing, and custom web development space and hearing about the struggles and successes of other businesses was very enlightening.

Wrap Up

Downtown Denver at dusk

If you've made it this far, I hope you are either a Kentico Connection attendee already or a newly converted future attendee ๐Ÿ˜†.

Kentico, as a company, is taking its products in exciting new directions.

The businesses using these products have built relationships with each other over many years and continue to believe in Kentico as a great solution for content management, due to their repeated success stories.

The developers responsible for implementing and building Kentico-based solutions have created a strong and growing community that I was warmly welcomed into.

I think all these things make it clear why I'm definitely looking forward to the next Kentico Connection in 2020 ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘.

Time to start counting down the days!

If you are looking for additional Kentico content, checkout the Kentico tag here on DEV:


Or my Kentico blog series:

Top comments (2)

mattnield profile image
Matt Nield

Great review of the conference, Sean. I didn't realise it was your first time at a connection - I thought you were an old-hand when it came to Kentico ๐Ÿ˜„

It's great that you got a lot of positive comments and feedback, you've been putting out some great content here, especially with your design patterns series. Great stuff!

seangwright profile image
Sean G. Wright

Yup, first time! ... and hopefully not my last ๐Ÿ˜€

I have this crazy idea that Kentico can become the 'professional' CMS / platform, the one where the development community builds quality and with self-reflection.

I know this is already the case, but I'd like the broader CMS ecosystem to identify Kentico this way as well.

When a dev team is looking at solutions for a CMS, and their CIO/CTO values their recommendation, I want them to think Kentico is best choice because of the community and quality of content/resources.