1st November, 2009

EECI2009 round-up

I can’t wait any longer. It has taken me over a week to collate all that follows, with videos, slides, images and reports still appearing day by day. I’m channeling my enthusiasm and pooling almost everything from the last two weeks into this post for your pleasure.

If you care about ExpressionEngine, I advise you cancel your plans for the rest of the day, make a massive pot of tea, and get comfy. Here we go…

imageFigure 1: Speaking about The Libertines site at EECI2009

For those that don’t know, the inaugural ExpressionEngine & CodeIgniter (EECI2009) Conference took place in the Netherlands on October 22nd/23rd. The event was organised superbly by the team at Whoooz!.

Leiden, Scheltema and the Dutch

The conference was held in the historic and beautiful city of Leiden, around twenty minutes South of Amsterdam. I tell you right now, I could live in Leiden. The city is stunning. If I could go back tomorrow it wouldn’t be soon enough. The multitudinous cyclists are very dangerous though.

Jamie and Glen in LeidenFigure 2: Jamie (left) and Glen contemplate potential bicycle-based death.

The venue itself, the Scheltema Complex was wonderful. The day before, and in the evening after lots of booze, we visited Robert and the Whoooz! team during the set-up. I have no idea why they were so relaxed, considering how much needed to be done, but with hindsight I am now massively inspired by our chilled-out Dutch friends, as everything ended up just about perfect. From audio/video to signage, from drinks to goodie bags, and from buffet to badges, everything was sublimely put together. The opinion of many was that this was one of the most well-organised conferences ever, and I wholeheartedly concur.

The speakers and the community

After years of emails and plenty of Skype, I finally got to meet up with Leslie Camacho and Derek Allard from EllisLab, who were themselves relishing the opportunity to immerse themselves within the European community and make some significant announcements, eager to break their silence over EE 2.0.

It was also a chance to catch up with old friends such as Veerle Pieters and Low. I also met some established EE geniuses like Leevi Graham, Brandon Kelly, Ryan Irelan, Michael Boyink and John Henry Donovan, plus inspirational young bloods such as Jamie Rumbelow (watch out for him as I think he’ll be running the internet in a few years).

EECI crowdFigure 3: Attendees mill about in the Alison Moyet (foyer).

In fact, all of the speakers, workshoppers and attendees were wonderful (sorry I can’t mention you all). No egos, just passionate EE and CI people, coming together to form new relationships and see how best to help each other going forward. Epic.

Socially, it was a blast. Mucho alcohol, myriad bars, rammed restaurants, foggy streets, cheeky waitresses and general tomfoolery were all in abundance. Tales of under-age drinking, raided minibars and gin consumption in hotel rooms at 2am will be omitted from this report.

The big news

The big news from the conference was that EE 2.0 will finally be released on 1st December 2009. I think we’re now all relieved, and mostly delighted at the development of the platform. Whilst it doesn’t suddenly deliver 100s of new features, it is a solid, extensible framework, rebuilt from the ground up.

Having played with various beta versions for a few months, I can tell you that I’m pretty much happy with all of it, now that I truly understand the power and flexibility of this new incarnation. As Leslie said, “the line between website and web application is disappearing”. EE 2.0 wholeheartedly acknowledges this, and delivers a framework that developers can really appreciate. It is now up to the community to build the features and applications that we want and need, embracing the flexibility of CodeIgniter as a base.

Colly on stageFigure 4: Taking the mickey out of our friends at EllisLab.

To get up to speed in a neat and tidy thirty minutes, you’d do worse than to consume Leslie’s keynote (video), with all the major news revealed around 15/20 minutes in.

My presentation

I’d been itching to do this presentation for months, and it was a huge relief that it went down so well. I’ve spoken at a lot of events this year, but this is the last; and it meant the most I think.

Aware that I would pepper my celebratory and personal narrative with some (I think) reasonable criticisms over the EE 2.0 process, and that EllisLab would of course be there in the front row, I was a bit nervous about that. Huge thanks to Leslie for the gracious and positive response as we talked afterwards. I’m thrilled that so many of my major concerns are already being dealt with through EE 2.0 and that the culture of responsible, collaborative development and strong business focus will continue to evolve. Leslie and the team have some great ideas and really want to work with us and the community. Oh, and I should apologise for all the bad jokes in my presentation, but you all laughed, so maybe I shouldn’t.

I also went into more detail about the Example Site we designed that will be shipped with EE 2.0 (or maybe 2.1).

Anyway, the crux of the thing was that we’ve had five years of rather quiet adoption of EE, but now the quiet revolution is over. EE is overground, and about to suffer more scrutiny than ever. I care about it, and as a businessman I need to be confident in backing any product, especially when communicating with my clients and team about building scalable products.

You can download Five Years Of Quiet Revolution.

EE Insider’s mammoth EE 2.0 week

As Leslie at Ellislab has already acknowledged, Ryan Irelan and Kenny Meyers have been very busy collating masses of top-level insider information for EE Insider‘s EE 2.0 week. Incidentally, it was a pleasure to meet Happy Cog West’s Ryan. He looks to me like the lost love-child of Hollywood’s Tim Robbins.

EE Insider

Check out the EE Insider EECI2009 wrap-up, and also (deep breath) the interview with Leslie Camacho, this comprehensive overview of EE 2.0 licensing and costs, the Control Panel Screencast, and a solid overview of what Front-End Development will be like in 2.0. Take note of the significant changes to both browser-based and FTP-based template development. Good news all-round on those fronts.

The absolute cast-iron must-read for an old-skool EE user like me (five years, man and boy) is Kenny’s What does CodeIgnited Mean? piece, which brilliantly details what it means to have EE living as an application within the CodeIgniter framework. Honestly, if you are scared or clueless about the big shift in EE 2.0 structuring, files and folders and what-not, you have to read this piece. Do it now.

The future is add-ons

Yep, whilst the holes in EE 1.x builds have always been plugged with plugins, modulated with modules, extended with extensions and anything else just about resolved through prayers, the outlook for 2.0 is revolutionary. Rather than have me try and explain quite why it is so revolutionary, take a read of EE Insider’s Add-on Development article, and this interview with add-on oracle Brandon Kelly. See also Brandon’s own transitions post for details of his own dev roadmap for his killer EE add-ons.

What else can you consume about EECI?

Well, it’s hard to keep track of it all to be honest. My ears have enjoyed Episode 5 of the EE Podcast where Dan Benjamin and Mr. EE (Ryan Irelan) share their thoughts on the conference.

Top bloke Matthew Pennell has published comprehensive notes from almost all presentations and workshops, including these notes to accompany my presentation, and notes from my colleague Jamie’s workshop.

EECI workshopFigure 5: Jamie running his workshop upstairs.

The Whoooz! chaps are gradually building a videos and slides page, so keep an eye on that as more videos and slides are released.

Elsewhere, there is a tidy little round-up from the Digital Meanderings folks, and the lovely Benedikte Vanderweeën’s round-up is also worth a read.

Naturally, the Flickr #EECI2009 search will produce music for your eyes, including stunning sets from Whoooz!, Nate Croft, Joel Bradbury, Owen Gregory and Clare, plus these great Leiden photos from Veerle. You can find the photos I personally love via my own Flickr faves.

If any more of you know of any links or overviews I’ve missed, drop me a comment.

More EECI events?

Hell yes. The response to the first event has been incredible. The community is buzzing it seems, and the excitement for EE 2.0 exploded in Holland. Our friends at Whoooz! are already making plans, and we’ll be meeting with them in the UK very soon to thrash out a few ideas.

By the way…

Whilst we’re on the subject of EE, I should note that I’ll be (finally) redesigning and relaunching my poor stripped-back and dull blog on EE 2.0 over this Winter.

Enormous thanks to Robert, Adriaan and the Whoooz! team for looking after us, inviting us to be a sponsor, and for doing such an incredible job. Honestly world, it was that good.

The final word goes to anyone out there who I was trying to convince about EE years ago, most notably those that shrugged their shoulders or just didn’t want to know, but are now relying on EE. Those final words are “I told you so”. And with that beautifully inappropriate arrogance, I’ll be off.


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