Web Applications: Top 10 Moments 2016

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

So it goes

We made it. It’s been a long year.

You’re probably aware that as a business we always aim to have a positive impact on our community, and this community includes you, dear readers of our blog and other assorted web content. In a year awash with shocking moments, and a landslide of deaths of dearly beloved celebrities, we feel it’s our duty to provide some cheer at the tail end of 2016.

Those of you who know me will know it pains me to write a Buzzfeed-style listicle, however it seems the most efficient medium to provide an adrenaline shot of happiness and optimism to send you on your way into the New Year.

Further ado would not only be unnecessary but also out of character with the laconic and deliberately reductive style of this post, and so, behold: our top 10 moments of 2016.*

10. WebbieZone Launch 

As a company, we’ve been long time admirers of the CoderDojo movement. As such we were delighted when our industrial placement chose to begin running a CoderDojo right out of our premises this Autumn. WebbieZone is the de facto successor to our hugely successful LaticZone code club in partnership with OAFC and Oldham Council, and runs every Thursday at Elizabeth House during term-time from 6-7pm. Come say hi in the New Year!

9. We Broke Out

You’re never too far away from a staff party here at Windsor Works, and this year was no exception, with no fewer than around 10 nights out, almost one a month. Even our old friend and officially recognised ‘Wolf of Hall Street’ Mark Owen would have struggled to cope with that. Three of these staff outings were official events and they were so fun they all warrant a place on the list.

Firstly, we had the Great Webbie Breakout, a chance to pit our supposedly honed critical thinking skills against a live action escape-the-room game followed by drinks and a buffet. It’s hard to pick my favourite photo of the event, but it might well be this one of our Chief Exec. Craig Dean inexplicably wearing a Russian ushanka hat in what was an unseasonably warm April.

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Congrats are once again in order to MD Craig Kennedy’s team for winning outright as the fastest team to make it out, especially seeing as several teams, my own included, didn’t make it out at all.

8. Make Hack Great Again!

Though it was a pastiche on a politically explosive, and therefore a could-go-either-way sort of tagline, we went out on a limb for our spoof headline sponsorship campaign for Hack Manchester: Make Hack Great Again. Our merch proved to be a hit, in particular our baseball caps, which we might genuinely have to do another order for. Everyone I meet at tech events seems to want one!

I can only echo Craig by saying this year was quite possibly the best Hack yet.

7. Dev Diaries

One of our big focuses with our content strategy this year was ensuring more of the behind-the-scenes Webbies had a chance to have their say on our blog. This led to me coining the alliteratively pleasing but admittedly cheese-tastic phrase ‘Dev Diary’, which so far has not remotely caught on.

There are some excellent blogs this year to choose from, and my inbox is brimming with readily publishable technical blogs, so there are surely more excellent articles to come — but my picks this year are Shaun’s blog on Table Valued Functions in SQL, Kris Cartwright’s blog comparing team dynamics to role-playing games, and Seck Wei Lim’s beginner guide to Regular Expression.

6. Cruisin’ Bridgewater

We had a chance to live out our wildest fantasies, as we shoe-horned a pirate theme onto what was intended to be a mild-mannered corporate canal cruise. A typically lively Webbie social ensued, and fun was had by all, in particular by the amused Marketing team member who edited our photos from the night.

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5. Placement Year Success

I’m not sure if it’s a record number, but in my time as a Webbie, 4 is the highest number of placement students that  returned from their graduation to full-time employment at Web Apps. Welcome back to Nick, Billings, Ryszard and Damir!

This also marks the first time we’ve hired a Project Admin as a placement student in the form of Maria Black – Craig tells the interesting story of how that happened in his lecture about ethos in business, The Company You Keep, which I’ve linked below for prosperity, although the lecture could quite easily have earned its own spot in this top 10.

4. Hallé-lujah

A beautifully restored 19th century Anglican church, a string quartet playing popular hits, and a giant snow-globe you could actually enter a la that scene in Mary Poppins, all made up what was to be a memorable Christmas party at the Hallé St. Peters in Ancoats. What a night!

3. Suguna Promoted!

Even for someone like me, who largely feigns blissful ignorance of dev office activity, it was great to see long-serving dev Suguna earn a much deserved promotion to Senior Engineer. She stayed humble about her achievement, but it was clear she’d had a fantastic year when she was voted Pride of Web Apps — Employee of the Year at our Christmas shindig (see item 4.)

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Congrats once again Suguna – a true Web Apps legend!

2. The Return of Munro

The man, the myth, the Munro. Ian returned to Web Applications as a Director, in what was seen as an ambitious and intelligent move by the board, and also dissolved my guilt about not being able to make it to his leaving do.

Welcome home, Ian.

1.  Extrali Live Release

Hailed by Chief Exec. Craig Dean as a landmark moment for the company, the first live version of our flagship system Extrali was my top moment of 2016. The culmination of 5 years of hard work and significant investment in R&D to develop a market-leading reservations system, we deployed Extrali a week before our Christmas party, so we got a chance to really celebrate the achievement with our free bar!

With more to come in the New Year, we’re extremely excited to see a host of Extrali systems up and running in live.

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It’s been a year where picking 10 top moments was a difficult task, and no doubt you have some ideas about ones I may have missed. Feel free to tweet us up with your suggestions; some notable omissions include Novembeard, Youth Hacks with Hive Manchester, and the Webbie Olympics, in which I insultingly only won bronze for the keyboard sprint.

We can’t wait for 2017 to get moving and to start making some more top-10 worthy moments. From everyone at Web Applications UK, have an excellent New Year.

*Not necessarily in order, objective, unbiased, or exhaustive