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Running a Camunda Meetup Group: Vienna

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What do you think of when you hear about Vienna? Probably beautiful buildings, culture, opera, classical music and many more cultural highlights. Something like that, right?

But a few years ago, in 2016, something else came to life as well. On September 23, 2016, the Camunda meetup group in Vienna was created. More than four-and-a-half years have passed since then and we would like to share some of our experiences and highlights of organizing a Camunda meetup community.

What is the Camunda Meetup Group Vienna?

Since Martin Schimak founded the meetup in 2016, it has grown into one of the largest Camunda meetups in the world. With 352 members, the Vienna meeting competes with two much larger countries, Brazil and Germany. By now, a whole team of organizers (Peter Queteschiner, Stephan Heigl, Maximilian Kamenicky, Stephan Pelikan, and Martin Schimak) and a committed group of sponsors (PHACTUM GmbH, J-IT GmbH, and Plexiti GmbH) help to foster and grow the community and try to keep the content well balanced for both technology enthusiasts and business experts.

Over the years we’ve tackled topics like how to handle high throughput in Camunda, a detailed hands-on with Zeebe, and how to test your BPMN process models. Our latest meetup was about “A unified Tasklist in microservices!”. The presentation can be found here: https://www.slideshare.net/secret/EXpWEwPSh2JwMi

Since the creation in 2016, the meetups in Vienna are always a place where people could come to connect with other Camunda users, learn what Camunda is, or simply have a great time with people of similar interests.

What were some of the highlights from hosting a meetup?

As all of us can probably relate to, the last one-and-a-half years were not always easy. Due to COVID-19, everyone had to start working from home, clients became more defensive with budgets and many more difficult situations came up. For technical companies like ours, it was a rollercoaster of lots of different stressful situations and it wasn’t always easy to make time for the meetup group on the side.

The pandemic also forced the meetup to go online, which was good and bad at the same time. On one hand, it opened new and interesting possibilities. At the first remote meetup last year in June, people from all over the planet joined in, one guy was even joining from Brazil. For many people, it became easier to make time for the meetup as well, as they could stay home and just connect to the session remotely.

On the other hand, the meetups became less interactive. With local events we could communicate whilst consuming beverages and snacks, we had “after-meetup”-parties as well. Our meetup events partially lived for the social aspects.

After realizing that it became harder to interact with the participants, we started to engage people more in our online events. At our last online event in January, we included a Camunda content-based competitive game to start the event together. The response was great, people loved to challenge their community peers and we had a great time. The meetup also included some BYOB (bring your own beverage) networking time afterward, people continued to hang a bit longer. Overall we had a great time.

That is one of the biggest take-aways we can offer as advice. As events become gradually more and more distant and it is harder to stay connected to specific content for a fixed period of time, it is important to make our online events more interactive. Bridge the physical barrier by connecting more strongly mentally. Then the meetups will feel alive and everyone will take something home with them that made it worth it to join the event in the first place.

Always keep track of possible topics

One of the key issues when organizing a meetup is what to present at the event. Planning this takes time, you don’t want to have last-minute submissions. Sometimes, the part of the planning that takes the most time is to figure out if you can use some sensitive data in your presentations. Maybe you have some field case studies that build on a client project that you want to use for your talk. Getting permission to do that can be painfully time-consuming. If you plan up-front what you want to present, it will make the rest of the organization much smoother and you can use more time to focus on the delivery of the content.

Where do we find our content?

There are three possible channels where we get our content:

  1. One of the co-organizers has a topic they want to present.
  2. We could always get a Camunda speaker who will present a talk. 
  3. One of our community members has an idea for a talk. 

We are always happy when a member of our community comes up with an idea and tries to further this channel in the future as well. But as we cannot count on that last option too much, we try to always have some topics in our hands, so that we can alternate between speakers provided by Camunda and our meetup community as well.  

That is a second take-away that we can offer: If you want to organize a meetup, always try to come up with a topic for a meetup in time. It will make your life much easier in the long run.

To sum it up, it is fun

All in all, one might say organizing a meetup can be a rollercoaster of lots of different impressions, some a bit stressful, some great. If you plan on organizing a meetup, please check out the meetups guide provided by Camunda. (https://camunda.com/events/meetups-guide/)

If you are interested in participating in a meetup, either as a presenter or as an attendee, please go to https://www.meetup.com/de-DE/topics/camunda/global/ and find a meetup close to you. These meetups can be a platform to learn more about the product itself, design ideas with BPMN, craft solutions to tricky problems, and much more.

Maybe we’ll see each other in the future. If so, please don’t forget to say hi!

Maximilian Kamenicky is a Developer at J-IT IT-Dienstleistungs Gesmbh

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