Will "the Mighty" Strohl

Moving on from DNNCon

OpenForce Connect Orlando 2008 group photo

Don’t let the headline freak you out.  It’s not as bad as it sounds…  We’ll start with some background, and then I’ll tell you the details.

Where it All Began: OpenForce Connect Orlando

The DNN Corp-run commercial conference that used to occur every year was originally called OpenForce.  However, many of us felt that the DNN community could and should have its own event.  One that was focused on the community, and less on anything commercial.

In 2008, I helped as a local organizer for the very first community conference in North America.  It’s described in detail in the first chapter of any Wrox DNN book, and it was known as OpenForce Connect Orlando.  At the time, I was a co-founder of the largest and most popular DNN user group, known as the ODUG or Orlando DotNetNuke Users Group.  We put together an amazing event in less than 2 months’ time.  We had over 200 people there for a one-day and one-track event. 

Day of DotNetNuke (now DNNCon) was founded on the principle of being a community-run event, for the community.  If you’ve ever been to a code camp before, this was one of the events that DNNCon was modeled after.  No matter if/when DNN Corp has their own commercial event, this event was meant to serve the needs and desires of the community.

The following year, the community kept pinging me and others in the user group to put on another one.  We really wanted to, but we also weren’t sure if we could.  After all, we didn’t want to step on any toes (so to speak) since DNN wasn’t really ours.  It belonged to DNN Corp.  For those of you that haven’t been around for that long, you may not know some of the ways people tried to “steal” DNN in the past.  So we wanted to make sure we did this in the right way.  We kept e-mailing the folks at DNN Corp for several months, but no answer.  Eventually, we took things into our own hands.

Now don’t go all conspiracy theory in the comments…  They literally couldn’t respond to us, but we wouldn’t know that until much later.  2009 was the year that DNN Corp got funding.  Part of the funding process required silence on their parts, so they couldn’t respond.

Day of DotNetNuke is Born

With a literal 2 months to the day, a group of us decided to put on the first Day of DotNetNuke event, and I was unanimously “volunteered” to be the organizer.  In two months’ time again, we filled an entire event with people from all over the world.  We had 5 or 6 tracks, training, and even exceeded the fire codes due to having too many people.  Getting down the halls was a challenge to say the least.  (Luckily, we didn’t get into any trouble.)  This event would boast the most attendees for any future event until the first one held in Palm Beach some 4 years later.

Over the years, you’ve seen numerous people as the organizers of each respective event.  I made it my role to recruit and empower event organizers in any way I could.  I helped them to plan, organize, and execute each event.  Without these people, this community event may have only happened once.

Here we are in 2016, and since then, Day of DotNetNuke has been rebranded to Day of DNN, and then to DNNCon.  It’s been held 10 times in 3 countries, 2 continents, and 8 cities worldwide.  By my guesstimate, it’s helped several thousand people all over the world from every walk of life learn more about DNN.  I’ve heard too many amazing and life-changing stories to recount.  At each event, I’ve collected new friends from all over the globe – relationships that in some cases are as close or closer than family.  In fact, the first time I met my soul mate was at a DNNCon.  Needless to say, DNNCon means a lot to me. 

My Decision

If DNNCon has a “daddy,” I guess it would be me.  As a father, sometimes you need to let your kid grow up on their own.  This decision isn’t just about that though – but it’s not any less true.

Any of you that know me know that I’ve recently been going through some personal issues with a tragedy that literally hit close to home.  I need to clear my plate a bit.  Keeping up with everything I used to do before the tragedy has proven to be too exhausting since.

At the end of the day, I had a vision, together with hundreds of other DNN’ers we were able to make it happen, and it was nothing short of inspiring to see it continue to be adopted by so many people all over the world.  These past 8 years have been very rewarding as a result.  However, the only constant in life is change, and now is the time for a change to be made for DNNCon.  We are at a critical point of growth in our community, and DNNCon needs a fresh vision and a renewed energy.

The Future

DNNCon Baltimore was the first event that was run in a committee manner.  I’ve tried a few different models in the past, and this one was pretty successful.  There is now a committee of well-known and experienced DNN community members who will take DNNCon and push it forward to bigger and better things.  As of today, they’re 8 strong – eight of the brightest and most creative minds ever to be involved with DNNCon.  Needless to say, the event we’ve grown to love is in good hands.  If you have any questions about anything DNNCon, please e-mail [email protected].

I’m very excited for the new life and energy the committee will bring to you in the future events to come.  As of right now, they’re closing in on making a decision for either Fall or Spring for the next DNNCon, but I’ll let them give you the details.

As for me, I’m not leaving the DNN community.  You’ll still see me at events, online, and I’m still going to build and maintain DNN modules.  This is simply a passing of the DNNCon torch from me, to a new group of people.

In closing, I’d like to thank you all for the support in putting on this event over the years.  If any single video can sum up what DNNCon is, was, and could be, this would be it. Enjoy, and I hope to see you at the next event (where/whenever that may be).

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