You probably noticed MODX was represented at the CMS Expo in Chicago, already a week and a half ago. I was there too! For me personally, this was a week of "firsts". First time on an 8hr flight, first time outside Europe and in the United States, first time visiting Chicago and first time meeting my employers (fun story).

The week was awesome.

Arriving on Saturday at 2pm (after leaving Amsterdam at 2.40pm, aint that amazing?), I was completely broken and barely managed to stay awake until 9pm which is when I hit the very comfy king-size bed at Hotel Orrington. Sunday morning I bought myself a week-pass for the public transit to head downtown... Holy cow, 45 minutes per train to get into downtown Chicago?! This city is huge! After strolling around a bit and heading for Millennium Park, it started to rain and I found my way to Panama Bread for some lunch. Back to the hotel in Evanston to check in on the folks at home, email and the social networks. By the time all that was done I headed to Austin Tacos... Let's just say America has funny tacos. :P

  • Skyscrapers and amazing architecture in a simple bridge (At Millenium Park)

    Skyscrapers and amazing architecture in a simple bridge (At Millenium Park)

  • Funny water ornaments at Millenium Park

    Funny water ornaments at Millenium Park

  • Pretty park, yet so close to downtown Chicago (which is a HUGE city)

    Pretty park, yet so close to downtown Chicago (which is a HUGE city)

  • Hotel room

    Hotel room

  • View from my hotel window

    View from my hotel window

  • Millenium park.

    Millenium park.

  • Millenium park

    Millenium park

The next day, which was Monday, was when the rest of the MODX team was going to arrive as well as the first attendees of the conference. After grabbing a cup of coffee to-go and intending to wait for them to arrive in the lobby, the door was opened and some faces that I just knew from avatars on Skype and Twitter walked in.

How do you greet people you have never met in person before, but have been in touch with for ages and now work with every day? I think I got as far as "you guys have to be from MODX!", or something silly along those lines. Kinda weird moment, but definitely one of the highlights of the week. The day went on with a mix of hanging out, building a booth, meeting more people formerly known as twitter or skype nicknames and getting to see some American excess first-hand at a local pizza place. I also had the pleasure of meeting Aaron Ladage (/la-dag-gie/, not /la-daaj/ as I imagined) and JP De Vries as well as others  - familiar names, but new faces.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were conference days which meant lots of talking, talking and spying on..er..getting inspired by the work of other platforms represented there. I personally got to see some Wondercode (odd business model, but a real WYSIWYG editor) and MuraCMS (awesome import/export functionality and some other interesting features) flyovers as well as the majority of the keynotes in the ballroom on content management strategy and history (instead of just the tools which highlighted the rest of the conference).

There was also plenty of MODX, of course. From the showcase session to the impromptu code share meeting in a room we sort of claimed, and the MODX (and friends) meetup at a local restaurant on Wednesday where everyone was too busy chatting and drinking "Revolution" beer (I kid you not!), to think about silly stuff like food. The team also brought along "the helmet", and many attendees were spotted wearing it (on picture, too).

  • CMSX 2012

    CMSX 2012

  • CMSX 2012

    CMSX 2012

  • CMSX 2012

    CMSX 2012

  • CMSX12

    CMSX12

  • American Excess: huge-sizes cola. All I drunk that night.

    American Excess: huge-sizes cola. All I drunk that night.

  • A "slice" of pizza. Three times as deep as a deep pizza in Dutchyland. Plate on picture is pizza-sized in Dutchyland.

    A "slice" of pizza. Three times as deep as a deep pizza in Dutchyland. Plate on picture is pizza-sized in Dutchyland.

After more talking, demo-ing and having a great time at the expo, the Thursday ended with an open showcase where site builders could show off their sites (MODX heavily represented with some truly stunning sites), and finally the famous "gotta have it gadget giveaway". I won a laptop cooler (one of those things you put on your lap that cools your laptop and prevents burning your delicate parts at the same time), but if he had not had an early flight back north our one and only Jay Gilmore would have won an iPad3 ...!! I hope that is a lesson for one and all to not leave before the final session..you never know what happens! ;)

After all that and saying our "see you later"-s to the people rushing back home I finally got to try the legendary pizza place in Evanston with JP De Vries and Jason Sonderman, also a MODXer from Kansas, things finally slowed down.

Friday I went downtown Chicago again, this time to visit Intelligentsia Coffee for coffee geek brother Kevin, the Chicago Cultural Center for the obligatory cultural sniffing and the Sears/Willis tower - 103 floors up in the tallest building of North America.

  • Nice stairway.

    Nice stairway.

  • Nice architecture in the Chicago Cultural Centre

    Nice architecture in the Chicago Cultural Centre

  • Nice architecture

    Nice architecture

  • .. wait, how many people?

    .. wait, how many people?

  • Sears/Willis tower in downtown Chicago. 103 floors, with elevators that go up 103 floors in 60 seconds.

    Sears/Willis tower in downtown Chicago. 103 floors, with elevators that go up 103 floors in 60 seconds.

  • Views from the Sears tower... stunning.

    Views from the Sears tower... stunning.

  • View from Sears'

    View from Sears'

  • View from Sears', straight down 103 floors.

    View from Sears', straight down 103 floors.

  • Glass boxes extend out of the building and definitely need courage to enter. :P

    Glass boxes extend out of the building and definitely need courage to enter. :P

  • View from Sears' over downtown Chicago, Millenium Park and Lake Michigan

    View from Sears' over downtown Chicago, Millenium Park and Lake Michigan

  • Pretty high buildings.

    Pretty high buildings.

Saturday I had to get to the airport for my 4pm-7am (local) flight back home, after which I went back to bed and woke up just on time for dinner.... The joys of a jetlag. I did manage to get some nice shots on the flight home.

  • The taxi for the night. :)

    The taxi for the night. :)

  • Rising up over Lake Michigan

    Rising up over Lake Michigan

  • Sun lowering over Canada or so?

    Sun lowering over Canada or so?

  • Sundown.

    Sundown.

  • Early sunrise

    Early sunrise

  • Sun up over the UK?

    Sun up over the UK?

Now, all this was two weeks ago. Last week I also (finally) moved, and I now have my own place (with plenty of room for receiving people) in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. I also released VersionX 2.0.0-rc2 last night.

Great post Mark, I really enjoyed reading it and definitely want to travel there too sometime :D

André van Vlaanderen André van Vlaanderen
May 29, 2012 at 03:15 PM

Hi Mark,

Nice story, a great experience to look back on.
Looking forward meeting you again next week.
And of course, i can not wait to see your presentation.

Great round-up! I was jealously reading all the CMS Expo tweets. Let me know if you're ever down in Austin, and we'll get you some *real* tacos! :)

It was great meeting you too in Person, Mark! I am so glad you liked Chicago...it is 70 miles from my home town...and I miss it a lot! I left the expo feeling really energized!!

Hoi Mark, (yes, I am dutch like you ha ha)
Such a pleasure to read your participation with the Modx CMS Expo in Chicago, wished I could be there too. You are really on to something now meeting the big guys of modx and others. Great website you have too with great articles. Always coming back here. We´ll I have a long way ahead of me since I bumped into modx evo. Revo is for the future. As a newbie I have a lot to learn about php, javascript and of course modx.
C-ya Willy.

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