Kentico Connection 2019 (Brno) Review
If you hadn’t noticed, Kentico Connection came back last year, and this year’s Connection season kicked off in Kentico’s beautiful home-city of Brno. Having missed last years event in Prague, this was the first time I’ve been to a Connection event that hasn’t been focused on a product release, so the messaging was a little different to what I’ve been used to and focussed more on the direction that the demands on the market are heading and how those demands are helping to influence the direction of both Kentico EMS and Kontent.
Although officially announced on the 16th of September, there was, of course, a good deal of focus on the rebranding of Kentico Cloud to Kentico Kontent (best be adding that to your dictionary!).
Kentico are still tied to the dual-rail product strategy, and adding to that strategy is the ability to tie both Kontent and Kentico EMS together, allowing Kontent to be used as a content hub while making use of the strong capabilities and rich feature set of Kentico EMS.
While there was no specific release at this connection, there was still a lot of focus on what Kentico plan to bring in with the Kentico 2020 and a lot of update on how that is shaping up.
There are a lot of updates out there on Kentico 2020 that are being revealed through Michal Kadak’s Ketchup YouTube channel (please do subscribe if you’d like to be kept up to date with and also potentially get a chance to provide feedback and help to determine some of the decisions being made). Each version of Kentico typically has a code name, you’ll all be familiar with Kentico Raptor for Kentico 12 and maybe might even remember Kentico Stallion for Kentico 11. During the Michal and David double-act in the keynote, one of the thing that they were most delighted to tell us is the codename for Kentico 2020: Kentico Pheonix.
Kentico 2020 is a big deal from a technology perspective and has taken a sizeable amount of effort to get in place. In part, this is why we’ve seen such a big gap between major versions. So why all of this effort? Kentico are on a roadmap to completely modernize the development stack with a view to removing the dependency on WebForms once and for all. With that in mind, Kentico 2020 will be fully implemented in .NET standard, we’ll still be using WebForms in Kentico 2020 for the admin (or ‘mother’, as we’re calling it). This then allows the MVC application to use .NET Core 3.0 or higher, which is great news.
We got a little insight into the thinking post-Kentico 2020, Marek Fesar hinting at considering Blazor being a potential candidate for replacing the admin application. Moving between MVC 5 and 6 does involve some changes though, but not to worry - Kentico are planning to have some upgrade procedures to cater for this, so that should help to lessen any pain that you might be expecting with this.
We also got to see a number of presentations on Kentico Kontent and Kentico EMS aimed at increasing our knowledge of CaaS, strengthening the transition from Portal Engine to MVC, and preparing for the future of content management. As you might expect, I didn't get to attend every session, but the top three that stood out for me that I've not already mentioned were Converting Portal Engine Widgets to MVC (by Ondrej Polesny), Building a Blazing Fast site with Gatsby.js (by Ondrej Chrastina), and The Road to (Kenti)continuous Delivery (by Jeroen Furst).
The closing keynote was given by Mark Grannan from Forrester. With a title of "It's the end of web CMS (and I feel fine)", there may have been some tight collars in the room. This isn't the end of the road though, its the evolution of where we are and where we need to be, where we're playing a part in a bigger puzzle. Where aggregation, planning, collaboration and insights all reside together. The combination of a content hub, project management, content services, and platform coming together to serve the content in the most appropriate manner. The immediate challenge from my perspective is to consider the content carefully, not just as a web page or an article, but as distinct units of content with their individual pieces of metadata that can be reused and served in any number of ways. I'm probably not doing the idea justice in this short post - I'll have to work on that!
My Presentation: Using Kentico 12 MVC with Azure DevOps
I was fortunate enough to have one of my presentation topics to be selected for this Connection, which gave me the opportunity to share some of my knowledge with the wider community. As an MVP, that’s what we’re here for, so it’s really great to have been selected. My presentation (Using Kentico 12 MVC with Azure DevOps) was focussed on the steps that we’ve taken at Ridgeway to move our build servers into Azure DevOps and how we’ve overcome the challenges of running the Kentico Continuous Integration executable within the release pipeline. I’ll write a separate blog-post about this, so I’m not going to put too much information in here, but I would like to say that, if you did vote for my talk, thank you!
No Kentico event is complete without a bit of a party and this year we went to the Brno Observatory and Planetarium for a combination of VR, stargazing, and a tour of the night sky in the planetarium itself.
With good fortune, the stargazing was awesome and Saturn was in just the right place for us to get a really good look through the telescope at Saturn - which was amazing to see. We also got to do a great deal of rum and cigar tasting. I'd love to be able to give you tasting notes, but I feel my palette is not quite there!
I’ve always enjoyed attending Kentico events and was happy to see that this Connection was a great example of Kentico's culture. Iva has yet again excelled herself organising a great event for us all and looking after us well. The Kentico team have been great hosts and have given us a great deal of information to digest and introduced us to some new faces. The two takeaways being that the technology track for EMS is progressing and that the market is moving at paces away from our traditional comfort zone CMS towards a newer idea of Agile CMS.