One more year has passed so quickly! I have just submitted my MVP application for the oncoming year and it actually took me a while to manage my contributions using the new format with a mandatory date selector. Not everything went submitted well there for me, so I decided to duplicate my submission in an open format, and maybe that will in some way help other new and potential applicants.
To start with, I need to mention that this year was very much special for me - I have relocated to the USA from England, UK for family reasons. But since my family is non-US, getting work authorization took an insane amount of time and effort, more than half a year took me to find a great place to work that could sponsor me an O-1 visa as the only possible solution to start work. Anyway, luckily the visa got granted and I recently started my new career path.
Learning and certification
So, having lots of time on a bench
without any income, I still used my time wisely. I started the year by collaborating with Learning@Sitecore team (they made really good progress this year!) as well as learning new things myself. Between January and May, I cleared all the certification exams for each of the new Sitecore SaaS offerings. I also shared my learning & preparation in these blog posts: Content Hub, OrderCloud, and earlier there was also XP10.
But my biggest contribution went in a form of SUGCON presentation in Budapest, at the end of March. I picked up the difficult topic which lay in a shadow area - performing Sitecore XP/XM upgrades. There was a lot of controversial information on that subject, and previously I suffered it out myself on several projects. So I gathered all my knowledge as well as what I learned from colleagues and other MVPs and made a universal guide on approaching and performing platform upgrades. All the traps are mentioned, and following my guide may save at least 2-3 x times off the cumulative effort.
I also lodged good proposals for SUGCON ANZ and Symposium, however, those haven't been chosen for some reasons
If you haven't heard about it, Sifon is a must-have open-source tool for any Sitecore developer, to simplify most of your day-to-day DevOps activities. Beyond its OOB "install-backup-restore" features, empowered with a plugin system Sifon turns into a real Swiss army knife. Plugins reside in a separate repository that Sifon pulls with one click, everyone is welcome to create and pull-request their own plugins.
After XP 10.2 got released, I updated Sifon to support this latest version. It took me a few weeks in December-January to troubleshoot installing it to Windows 11, eventually, it all got implemented and a new version 1.2.6 became available (along with updated plugins). Thus, Sifon became the only GUI tool that could download and install XP on Win11 in just a few clicks, even easier than in containers.
Speaking at usergroups
I was invited to be a speaker at three Sitecore usergroups:
Sitecore Discussion Club
I organized the Sitecore Discussion Club only three times this year. Despite being a wonderful format of the event compared to traditional Sitecore user groups, it expanded most of its power in an offline format. With both founders having moved outside of the UK and living in totally different time zones, maintaining online events becomes a challenge. So much sadly we're thinking of closing it next year unless someone from the UK community takes it over from me.
Because of not having a work permit visa for such a long period, I was less exposed to the actual challenges and had fewer topics to blog about. There are still ~10 posts over the past year, and my blog homepage nicely indexes all the posts as they were written, reverse chronologically.
This year more effort went to Sitecore Telegram - a great channel with regular insights about Sitecore products on useful tips approaches ideas and concepts that are sometimes difficult to approach for Sitecore technology professionals - mostly developers, architects, and strategists - with around 800 subscribers in total. In 2022 I decided to expand Sitecore Telegram with 4 more additional channels exclusively dedicated to new SaaS products to promote those directly and channel out the audience attention:
In the summertime I was invited to (and took part in) the two podcasts:
Sitecore Link project
When it comes to Sitecore.Link
project - it could seem semi-abandoned at a first glance. That is partly true, but only partially. I still keep a fat bill in my pocket for the underlying infrastructure and anticipate the changes to save much on ownership costs. At this moment I am only adding some new content to the existing instance running on Sitecore 9.3 JSS. Big housekeeping is in scope to revise existing material that is no longer actual. For quite a long time I was thinking of rebuilding it with the proper technology, but nothing was much suitable.. until now! Next.js is a 100% ideal technology for this project. The backend is to be rebuilt for XM Cloud and to be interchangeable with 10.3+Edge and one of my biggest ambitions for 2023 would be to document the whole path in the format of a series of tutorials for typical Sitecore backend developers to "convert" into the new headless world.
are the legendary curated lists about almost everything in the world, if you never came across it - please spend some time to see what it features. I am a creator and curator for the Awesone Sitecore
list there for the past 3 years, classifying all the important and valuable open-source repositories we (as the community) have created so far. This is the best place to look up code for almost any Sitecore aspect one may be coding. This repository is gained 54 starts so far which is a great indicator of its value!
Organizing Los Angeles Sitecore User Group
After relocating to Southern California and commitments (plus presentation) for Los Angeles Sitecore UserGroup, I was invited to become a co-organizer for this event. I proudly accepted this request and now became a person in charge of this quarterly-run event. The next big event we do takes place on December 1-st just a few hours after the MVP application closes so technically it does not not count as a contribution for 2022.
That is, in my opinion, the best perk of being a Sitecore MVP so I simply couldn't miss it! I shared some of my thoughts and vision (and some concerns as well) with the development teams and generally spent a great time learning lots of valuable information from other MVPs and Sitecore product teams
Other MVP-related activities
Over the past several years I have had a pattern of using my 1-to-1 half an hour with MVP Program to share the vision on platform development, business adoption, some Sitecore-related hot topics, and of course - the feedback to the Sitecore teams. I really hope it is been shared with the teams helping them to improve. Past December was not exclusion and we had a very productive conversation, as usual.
This year I took part in the Sitecore Mentor program (as a mentor). I wish we had more time spent together with my mentee. My biggest outcome is that unless you set up a recurring meeting invite that works for both of you - planning stays extremely difficult (given that we're both grown-ups with families and tons of responsibilities).
I also participated in MVP webinars and monthly MVP Lunch events as much as I could (given that my new timezone is a bit restrictive).
Lastly, as in all previous years, I helped out MVP Program with new applications and was happy to spot a few superstars on Sitecore horizon (no, not that one).
Speaking about the plans for the next year, my new position requires me to get deeper with Sitecore and its products, with much more interaction and some shift-n-drift into strategy. I feel extremely positive about it!
Other than that:
- With no doubt, XM Cloud will be the headliner for 2023, not just for me, but for all of us. Now after finally getting access to the system I am so much eager to start blogging it backwards and forwards.
- SmartHub (especially the CDP part of it) has huge undiscovered potential, which I am anticipating coming across, luckily my new employer specializes in it.
- Content Hub is another product (also well-practiced at my company) for me to master, discover and blog about.
- XP platform is still with us, with lots of support required. Learning and documenting upgrade paths would be a hot topic fin 2023.