Confessions of an apprentice: My experience on the eZ Publish Summer Camp 2012

by Tomislav Buljević -

If you'd like to know how the 3-day event on Bol went from an apprentice's point of view, read on!

This article will deviate from the normal tutorial-like format and deal with my personal experience regarding the eZ Publish Summer Camp 2012 which took place 5th to 8th September 2012 in the Elaphusa hotel in Bol on the island of Brač in Croatia. I’ll try to convey just a bit of the atmosphere going on because you just had to be there for the whole experience. What I write here probably won’t do the event justice, but bear with me.

When I got to Split where we were to board the catamaran, I truly didn’t know what to expect from this whole event. You see, it’s the first eZ Publish event I ever went to, and it’s the first major event Netgen was ever organizing. So, basically, it could go either way: it could be a complete bust, or a complete success. I prefer to think it was the latter, but from an objective point of view, the true answer probably lies somewhere in the middle of the two. But, let’s start from the beginning, shall we?


If you look at the two articles on this blog, you will see how much effort went into organizing such an event and how it all came to be (you can find the first article here, and the second one here). But in my opinion, the organization was spot on, from the venue all through the extra activities the attendees could participate in.

The choice of the location for a summer event such as this one couldn’t be better. The island of Brač is a beautiful place, and the small town of Bol has enough different activities for everyone to enjoy, from simple sunbathing to kite-surfing. And there is a reason the Golden Horn beach was named the most beautiful beach in Croatia. It is almost completely surrounded with the sea, and even though it’s not a sandy beach, but covered in pebbles, it is still very comfortable to sunbathe there.

Day 0

Welcome drinks

Welcome drinks at the terrace of the Elaphusa hotel

We went aboard the catamaran, supplied with tickets from one of my co-workers, Marko, and set sail towards Brač. When we got there, we picked up the accreditations and welcome packets from our animators, Danijela and Vlado, and went to the terrace of the Elaphusa hotel for the Welcome drinks where Ivo Lukač (@ilukac) and Nicolas Pastorino (@jeanvoye) gave a few words greeting us all. It was also a chance for old acquaintances to be renewed, and for new acquaintances to form. All in all, very pleasant, but sort of low-key. Possibly because we were all still a bit tired from the trip and the unpacking.

Day 1

Opening session

Day 1 of eZ Publish Summer camp: Opening session - the turnout was great!

After the opening session with Ivo and Nicolas at the helm, we all got to our respective halls for the first presentations. I really don’t know how it was on the other tracks, but I can tell you about the CMS track.

So, the CMS track first presentation was Paul Borgermans (@paulborgermans) from PHPBenelux with Advanced eZFind. I know that eZFind is always a major topic for any developer and we got to explore some of the intricacies of this powerful extension. Really interesting and totally useful.

Lecturers of day one

From left to right: Paul Borgermans and Marko Dugonjić holding their presentations

After lunch, Marko Dugonjić (@markodugonjic) from Creative Nights told us about some details of the responsive web design. Also, his theory is that not only front-end developers, but designers also, should completely change the way design and layout should be presented to the clients, which is only logical, as responsive design is something that completely changes the game. Also, Marko had this hands-on approach, where we were supposed to analyse some cool-looking websites, and see what makes them so cool regarding the design.

After the presentations, we had some time to kill, and some of the Netgen crew went for a swim at the sea, while the others relaxed before the dinner.

In the evening, we had a dinner for all the participants in the restaurant called Vagabundo in Bol. Even though Vagabundo stands for vagabond, as you might have assumed, the restaurant was pretty fancy, I can tell you. With domestic red wine, and a delicious menu, those couple of hours passed too soon. All of us Netgen folk were at one table, and Bertrand Dunogier (@bdunogier) from eZ Systems joined us, so we had a few laughs, and he assured me that he’ll visit Croatia with the family to see more. I hope that he does.

Day 2

Start of day 2 of eZ Publish Summer Camp

Day 2 of eZ Publish Summer Camp

Well, the weather wasn’t completely nice on day 2. In fact, a heavy rain was falling that morning, so the spirits were a bit down. Nevertheless, we hit it off with Sébastien Morel (@Plopix) from Novactive, making a presentation about eZ Publish integration with Varnish. Let me tell you, the guy has so many stickers on his Mac, from Yoda to Google’s +1 button, it’s ridiculous! But when he started talking about Varnish capabilities, and how it takes the caching to a completely different level, your mind gets completely blown.

Day 2 lecturers

In the top: Sébastien Morel with his funky laptop; bottom left: Bertrand Dunogier; bottom right: Gaetano Giunta

This time, I had lunch with Ivo, Bertrand and Yannick Modah Gouez (@ymgouez) who arrived that day, and was an interesting, totally likeable guy. The talk was mainly focused on work-related topics, but he also had questions about Croatia, and we gladly provided answers for him.

After lunch, Bertrand came up on stage and talked about taking eZ Publish to a completely new level by clustering it, which basically means usage of multiple servers for different siteaccesses of an eZ Publish installation. Let me tell you, I thought eZ Publish was powerful before, but as the days of the event progressed, I could truly see what a versatile CMS this actually was.

After the coffee break, Gaetano Giunta (@gggeek) talked about Performance analysis for eZ Publish and we saw that sometimes, eZ Debug isn’t enough for a developer to optimize his/her website. He also pointed out to an extension he created, ezperformancelogger, which generates reports on server capabilities for easier performance analysis.

The weather picked up by then, and we found out that Danijela and Vlado organized two activities for us: beach volleyball and bowling. I went to the beach volleyball where we found out one important piece of trivia: web-developers can’t play volleyball. But that didn’t matter, because we had so much fun.

Day 3

Day 3 of eZ Summer Camp

Day 3 of eZ Publish Summer Camp

Third day of Summer Camp, the sun was shining and the weather was perfect. Gilles Guirand (@gandbox), the co-founder of Kaliop, was waiting for us to explain some Advanced caching techniques in eZ Publish. We performed analysis of certain key segments of our installation which was pretty interesting.

Day 3 lecturers

From left to right: Gilles Guirand, Igor Vrdoljak and Lucijan Blagonić holding their presentations

Then, after lunch, Igor Vrdoljak (@ivrdoljak) and Lucijan Blagonić (@lblagonic) went up on stage to explain creation of a mobile site in eZ, working with the mobile siteaccess, and of course, some more design intricacies for mobile sites in general.

Wine tasting

In anticipation of the wine...

I have to share something with you: I became an eZ Publish certified developer. We had certification after the presentations, and even though the new certification system had some minor issues, which Nicolas assured us will be dealt with by October, on the 10th Annual eZ Conference and Awards in Cologne, I managed to solve the Basic certification exam, and it was just a wonderful feeling, like I’ve just won the lottery.

After that, we had the closing ceremony, and we could all let our hair down, so to speak. For you see, the events which were prepared for attendees weren’t finished, and it was all about fun from this point on.

In the evening, we went to a wine-tasting to a local wine vault, which has over a 100 years of tradition and created wine from grapes bought exclusively from local manufacturers. Netgen organized a lottery where three lucky people won a bottle of wine from this wine vault. After that, we went to town where a discussion was started by Gaetano and me about food (what are an Italian and a Croatian with a bunch of French guys to talk about than food) and after a couple of hours worth of laughs, we went to party to the closest lounge bar to us, Varadero. Even though the prices were a bit steep, we had major laughs there. Unfortunately, our “French connection”, as Gaetano put it, needed to leave the next morning and miss out on the boat trip.

The boat trip

Start of the boat trip

Start of the boat trip

The last day of the camp was all about relaxation. We all went for a boat trip to the island of Hvar, and afterwards to Palmižana which is on a group of Paklinski islands near Hvar. Now the boat trip was something to be experienced. We travelled for 2 and a half hours to Hvar, and it was a comfortable ride, if you’re used to it. If you’re not, well... I don’t need to talk about the consequences of sea sickness, now, do I?

Anyways, when we got to Hvar, most of the crew went to this fortress which is on a hilltop over the Hvar town. Since I’m not much of a fortress-climber, based on previous experiences, I went for a cup of coffee to the town square with two of my fellow Netgen crew, Edi Modrić and Hrvoje Knežević. A group of German attendees from :data factory joined us and we spent about an hour chatting about everything. It turns out they were pretty satisfied with the event.

At the boat

Yours truly at the boat trip: The sun was burning hot!

When we got to Palmižana, after a long climb or two, we got to this picture-perfect cove with yachts anchored in it, and we climbed down to the beach and threw ourselves in the sea. I cannot describe how wonderful that was. You just had to be there.

So, after all of this, we went back to Bol, and the morning after got onto the catamaran which took us to the mainland, and we all went home. It was a pretty sad thing to leave, but what can you do? There will surely be other summer camps to come. All in all, to all of the people who didn’t come, next time be sure to reserve your tickets and a spot at Summer Camp, because I think we started a wonderful tradition which is both educational and fun at the same time.

Until next time, I wish you happy coding,



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