UGS 2012: What You Missed

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

I know it was you, Fredo.

This year’s User Group Seminar, hosted at the Place Hotel, Manchester, highlighted some exciting announcements for the future of Web Applications UK as well as celebrating our successes of the past year. Our Chief Executive, Craig Dean’s keynote speech epitomised our theme – Engaging, Listening, Evolving.

Since UGS 2011 we have attracted several new Traveller and Acumen clients, recruited 29 new Software Engineers, 2 new Project Managers and promoted Cheryl to Project Group Manager. An enormous amount of work has been done with 6104 cases opened and 1192 packages released for Traveller alone.

Quality
Many new processes have been put in place to improve the quality of our software. We live by the motto that quality can never be achieved and always improved. Cases are being tested more rigorously and every Engineer now spends two days a fortnight on peer testing. Two Quality Managers, Clare Sudbery and Shebnem Harris, were introduced to share the role. One QM takes on the role for two weeks at a time, before going back to being a Software Engineer for two weeks. This keeps them in touch with our software and allows them to concentrate on what they love – programming.

WA:UK Centre of Excellence
Since opening as a Prometric test centre, The Centre of Excellence has really taken off. Over the past year, well over 700 exams have been sat including many from Web Applications UK leading to 32 new qualifications within the company. The addition of the Pearson VUE test centre in August 2012 has seen numbers soar, with 173 exams in October alone. The first course, Train-The-Trainer, was delivered in August by Managing Director and Certified Technical Trainer, Alan Sweeney. An experienced and talented trainer, we have received nothing but the highest of praise for Alan’s techniques and this course’s usefulness to technical trainers.

WAUKCE Accreditation
In October 2012, WAUKCE achieved ‘Accredited Learning Provider’ from the Learning & Performance Institute. The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has expressed interest in acting as an external accreditation body validating the content and quality of our programmes. Also undergoing accreditation with the Service Desk Institute and progressing towards Microsoft Training Partner status, the Centre is proving itself as a quality training institution.

WA:UK Certification
In the New Year, Web Applications UK will be launching a programme aimed at recognising and certifying the skills of helpdesk and support professionals with experience of Web Applications UK products.

For us and our customers, this will further increase the efficiency of our Support department by communicating how best we can work together. Our accredited training centre, WAUKCE, will provide a bespoke, quality certification programme, initially for help desk staff. Certifications for Traveller and Brease are planned for the future.

Three levels will be available; Analyst, Professional and Expert, building towards an external, industry recognised Service Desk certification. Three places on a course at Analyst level will be given to each of our Traveller customers free of charge. More details of course content are available on the Centre of Excellence website.

Babel
Babel 2.9 has been developed, tested and ready for release with one key new feature. The ServiceExecutionPolicy now has three modes; RemoteOnly, RemoteOnFail and Local Only. RemoteOnly is the default mode as previous versions of Babel have worked; all messages are added to the message queue and processed remotely when possible. RemoteOnFail means that messages will only be added to the message queue to be processed remotely if processing locally fails. LocalOnly ensures that no messages are processed remotely; this is not a mode we would recommend for permanent use but is available when needed.

Traveller
TR4 is the .NET hybrid version of Traveller. Many of our customers are currently using TR3, so TR4 is the upgrade which allows existing code to stay in place without redevelopment, only small tweaks. It shares sessions, allows new code to be developed in .NET and allows ExtJS screens with a richer user interface. This is available now to all new and existing customers.

TR5 is the future of Traveller, written purely in .NET 4.5 and MVC 4, brand new technologies. Fully asynchronous, TR5 uses TPL and Rx technology allowing for massive scale reservations. Custom intelligent caching algorithms enable incredible performance. Babel is built into the stack, making it fully integrated. The first TR5 system will go live in the summer of 2013 and will be available to other customers in 2014.

Client Access Area
On Monday 3rd December, a Client Access Area will be available on our website for Traveller and Acumen 9 clients to access our case tracking system, FogBugz. Clients can log in using their email address and password to get a real time update on their cases. A full list of open cases will be displayed with category, case number, case title, client reporter, date opened and latest activity comment. Cases can also be searched for using the case number and filtered into case type. As well as monitoring existing cases, our Support department can be contacted directly through the Client Access Area.

Along with all the Steve Jobs-style announcements, we all had a great day spending quality time with our clients and celebrating the exciting year ahead. All the hard work and planning paid off as the feedback so far has been great!

Craig Dean, Chief Executive, Lee Tudor, Technical Director and Alan Sweeney, Managing Director of the Centre of Excellence answering clients’ questions at the end of the event