Hello I am back!
It’s been a while since I wrote something & I think blogging in general is slowly dying out, so I am gonna try & make a more conscious effort to blog quick snippets or things I learn as I enjoyed doing this in the past, so hopefully you can see more in the future.

So where have I been for the last 18 months or so… well I started working for Umbraco HQ helping to build great software be it the core CMS product, the Cloud platform or the addon products such as Forms & Deploy (TAFKA Courier), with a very talented & passionate team that I am so lucky to work alongside and learn so much from.

Previous to working at Umbraco HQ, I would actively work on pet projects be it small packages coded in a few evenings or lunchtimes to larger projects such as uHangout.

What is uHangout?

uHangout was a project I decided to create one lunchtime around September of 2013, I fired up a Google Hangout On Air session and invited someone in the Umbraco community to come talk about their Umbraco project & why it was so neat, where we streamed it live on YouTube. From there the idea just grew into a community show & tell. This was mostly involving new packages being built, as at the time & still today the Umbraco community site our.umbraco.org has a rapidly increasing amount of packages and it’s hard to keep up with whats new.

Why did the project die?

So you may be wondering why the project came to an abrupt end? With the last episode being aired last August. Well this happened due to a number of different things:

Content

Getting regular new content weeklyish was becoming harder and harder to find towards the end of life of this project. The pressure to find new guests who could find the time during their working day to talk to me became difficult and I struggled to think of new ways to mix up the format to create new content and towards the end it felt more like a chore to find something new, fresh & exciting.

New Job

Starting a new job at the Umbraco HQ is a time consuming & rewarding job, where I am constantly learning so much from my clever development team colleagues. With this job I have committed myself 100% to it and thus I have found it hard to plan and organise episodes that I used to be able to do so easily.

Depression & Anxiety

You may or may not know but I have been very open about my past & current struggles with anxiety and depression. So I am coming out of a rough winter period with some low mood which can suck the soul of any creativity to hack, build or work on anything in my freetime. I can’t fully blame it, but it can eat away at your confidence & motivation. With this being said I am trying to turn things around and hope to reboot the project, even if that means handing over the reigns to someone new.

Rebooting the project

I am currently debating with myself on how to resurrect the project and ensure it’s successful and that I enjoying doing it again. The black dog of depression just tells me ‘Why bother with it?’, ‘Does anyone really miss it or care that it stopped?’

However today’s mood is positive and that I think it’s a good idea to attempt to bring it back in some form.

So with that all being said I won’t make any promises I can’t keep, but here’s hoping I can think of a new format to ensure the project can come back from the dead.

I am currently trying to figure out how best to reboot the project & kick start off something new and exciting again for the Umbraco community, I have some ideas and initial thoughts as follows:

  • Scrap the live recordings – as very few people watched it live & asked questions in real time
    • Means they can be pre-recorded to suit more people with their schedules in order to come & chat with me
    • No more technical hiccups that happened live & can be edited out
  • Less frequent
    • Perhaps one a month
    • Series based – 6 episodes or similar, released one a week with longer gaps between series to gather new content
  • Share the burden
    • Ask for help from other members of the community who want to get involved & help out

With my initial thoughts & suggestions, I would like to actively hear the wider community’s thoughts, ideas & input on where the project should go or how it could be improved, so if you have a suggestion or general thought about it all please leave a note in the comments section below 🙂

Hopefully with the help of you all I can come back with a realistic plan to resurrect the project with a sustainable future for it.

 

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12 thoughts on “Why did the Umbraco pet project uHangout die?

  1. Here’s my idea, and it may also take away the strain of having to “think of something fresh”… and could be done where-ever/when ever.

    Soooo………….

    There’s approximately 1 new package “uploaded” to OUR, each week.

    What I would do, is do a “video review” of the plugin, as if you were a “user”. Much like an “unboxing” video.

    You, download it, install it, and see if you can get it working, and actually use it.

    Do it as a “FULLY LIVE”, un-rehearsed performance. That way, we can all see the potential struggles, of getting it up and working, and also see if it’s of any use.

    Sometimes I install a plugin, and go “ok, so what the eck this does do? – cant see anything obvious??”. And sometimes i go “wow!! this is ace, and has been totally undersold by the package dev”.

    You could also showcase some “epic fails”, whereby, you simply get bored/frustrated, and just uninstall it. Being careful not to totally shatter the package devs heart – Although, being the resident “umbGrump” might be funny 🙂

  2. We were just talking at our weekly Skrift meeting last Tuesday about how we missed uHangouts and were wondering if something was going to come fill in the void.

    From a content standpoint, I completely understand how difficult it is to find things on a weekly basis. We have our own struggles with that as well and it can be frustrating when the community has been quiet and we’re trying to put out SOMETHING in the “Around the Web” section of the newsletter. I think less frequency wouldn’t make uHangouts any less valuable to it’s audience (I don’t have time to watch it weekly myself, to be honest) and would still let you really highlight the especially cool stuff that’s going on.

    If there’s anything the Skrift team can do to help facilitate it continuing, please let us know? We’re all busy (and some of us over here struggle with depression and anxiety as well, like me) so we completely understand the struggle. Hang in there and keep being awesome! ❤

    1. Hi Janae,
      Thanks for the love & support !!

      Yes I can imagine the Skrift team has similar struggles in terms of finding people to write up article pieces.

      I think it’s clear the pressure of doing it weekly was way too much. I will maybe reach out to you & the Skrift team if we can do anything to help collab & share ideas perhaps?

      1. I ditto what Janae said! And I actually still check the website every now and again to see if a new episode popped up that I completely missed due to my irregularity on Twitter. I have optimistic hopes that you’ll bring it back in some capacity 🙂 We’d love to support/help/collab/ideate in any way we can – as team Skrift and as individuals.

        Also, this winter has been particularly hard for me as well and the mostly crappy spring we’ve had has not helped, so you are definitely not alone in that there.

  3. I can totally understand why you feel that uHangout died off… seriously though, be proud of your achievement with it, 83 episodes – that is a major major feat!

    With your ideas for rebooting the project, I wholeheartedly agree. Scrapping the live recordings will increase the production value; definitely make them as a limited series – 6 episodes (each with a targeted topic) … and that way you can bring in targeted community members per topic.

  4. Would a podcast version of uHangout work, with a changing team helping. A this week Lee Kelleher will be talking about X etc. You could also do a section or an occasional series (once a month for example) for those new to Umbraco. You could then, if it is possible do a live recording from a meet-up (with others doing all the recording etc., but able to get help as to how to do it from you and the others with experience).

    The reason for a podcast is the ability to go back to something you might of missed (something I do regularly).

    I would also be very interested in hearing about the mental health issues as this is something I am going through at the moment.

    1. Hiya
      Yes they are some good ideas and I will add them to the pot of feedback, but as your reaching out to me re mental-health I am of course more than happy to talk more about it with you.

      Drop me an email on warren at this blogs domain 🙂

  5. I second Lee’s comment that you should be really proud of the uHangout achievement!

    The idea of removing the live element would make it much easier to fit in I suspect. However, the extra load of editing can be a pain (or cost cash monies). Though it might be fun to do a live event one on a periodic basis too (a couple of times a year maybe?) – I also love the suggestion of a recording from different meetups around the world.

    I’m also a huge proponent of the series approach – its what I do with HappyPorchRadio – the value of being able to take some time off between series is invaluable to the level of energy you can put in. A series also allows you to focus on a theme or topic, which might make it easier to source ideas for content. I would vote for weekly series (4-8 episodes) wth gaps, rather than a monthly schedule. I also like the video format of uHangouts, but I do find it easier to create time to listen to audio podcasts – though it would be possible to make both available.

    Re sharing the load: I’m love to help out if/where/when that might be helpful.

  6. Warren I can agree with your idea’s. I would be excited to contribute and take some of the pressure away from you having to be there every Friday. Like Janae I was considering doing a Uwesthangout because Uhangout had stopped and felt that there was something missing in the community without Uhangout. This is a perfect focus group for CodeGarden this year. Combining the efforts of everyone in this post could make Uhangout what you have always wanted it to be. I am also willing to help with the discussion on mental health. I deal with adversity everyday and If anyone can relate to the challenges of keeping good mental health I can. We all have hangup’s,hardship’s, and challenges with our lives. I wake up everyday to life’s reality of being disabled, “when I am always walking in my dreams”. I have to eat my crap sandwich and convince myself that i am going to accomplish and improve something in my life today and for my clients. It is hard enough to stay on top with the road map for Umbraco as an agency and when i add a Spinal-cord Injury into that mix I have roadblocks at times. I fell it would be great to not only talk about Umbraco but other topics as well. You can have segments on the show. For instance I can offer “Why My 2nd codegarden was greater than my first?” It had nothing to do with Umbraco or Codegarden but it is an amazing story of my fight. Kyle’s story of friction would be great. Your story of returning to Umbraco HQ is Awesome. With that being said i will leave it with one of my favorite quotes!!! “Umbraco change my Life”

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