Adam’s 2016 in review

I love these end of year review posts. When you’re in the thick of a project, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees, but when you stop, reflect, and look back… it’s a beautiful landscape. That’s what this year has been like. Celebrity deaths, the US election, the SSW reno… phew. This year has had it all.

SSW TV

It has been thrilling and astounding to watch the growth of SSW TV. At the end of SSW TV’s first year, we had 50,000 views. In our fifth year, we’re now at more than 20 times that. How far we’ve come!

Each year I’ve watched the growth, and have blogged about it. As I wrote in last year’s review post, at the end of 2015 we were at just under 1 million views. This year, we’re at 1.5 million.

Snapshot:

2015 2016
Views 969,486 1,500,000+
Years of video watched 11 years 19 years
Subscribers 8,000 12,556

Analytics comparison 2015 v 2016

Figure: Google Analytics for 2015

Figure: Youtube Analytics for 2015

Figure: Google Analytics for 2016

Figure: Youtube Analytics for 2016

Angular 2:

We’ve been fans of Angular since it was first released back in 2014, but with the official release of Angular 2, its popularity has exploded! We have used it on most of our client projects and also for many internal projects such as SugarLearning and SSWTimePro. In addition, we’ve been sharing the love by running Angular hack days and packed out Angular training courses.

We ran multiple full day intensive training courses in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, and each of these sold out. Its popularity is well deserved. Angular is a fantastic framework and we look forward to continuing working with it in 2017 and continuing our best practices with Rules to Better Angular 2.

Power BI:

2016 was the year of Power BI. In October I wrote about SSW’s Power BI upgrade, and the way it has transformed our business reporting. Static reports are now interactive, and I can drill down or slice the data as needed to get information quickly. As a result, we can make decisions quickly and with confidence – and it’s simplified our monthly finance meeting considerably. It’s either replaced or been integrated into many of our previous SQL Reporting services, and powers our data coming from Microsoft CRM, MYOB, SSWTimepro.com, plus some auxiliary systems, such as Skype for Business (our calls), and VisualStudio.com and GitHub.com (our source code).

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Power BI is a star! We’re not the only ones loving it. The SSW TV video “Going Hardcore on your Business Intelligence with Power BI“, published in September 2015, is our most popular SSW TV video of all time. At this time last year it had 27,000 views, and is now at more than 110,000!

DevOps

I’m really happy with the ALM process at SSW. We do Scrum well, the sprint reviews go well, and the guys doing the Scrum Master role are pretty solid. Our DevOps story is less mature but we are doing a better job across the projects, checking that the software is healthy each morning and recording more and more metrics so we have a picture of the health of our environments. The developers are always keen to be knocking the next thing off the back log but that’s not always helpful when your application has a knife in its leg.

While we started using Application Insights in 2015, 2016 was the year it really took off. In 2016 we also incorporated Raygun and JavaScript unit tests into our arsenal and the results have been awesome.

We integrated Application Insights into our sprint reviews, which let everyone know we were attending to the current health of the application each sprint. We use Raygun on a daily basis to hunt down, fix, and mark issues as resolved. With these tools, we’ve successfully reducing reported bugs and performances issues on many projects.

We’ve got it pretty much sorted on the back-end services C# side, but we have a way to go on the front-end. With technologies like Angular and the need for more reactive applications, we’re writing more JavaScript than ever. In the past we mostly used unit tests to test our back-ends and MVC controllers written in C#, but we are extending our unit testing to the front-end, to now include testing for our UI components. With JavaScript unit testing, we’re able to do just that, so we’re now more confident in the quality and stability of our front-end code.

Sydney: The reno hell, volume III

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey 😜😜 – and what a journey it has been!

In my 2015 end of year post, I wrote about purchasing an adjoining suite in the Sydney office. With dedication and hard work, this year we turned that space into the SSW Chapel in record time, and it is awesome! Part open-plan dev space, part event space, it’s perfect for running user groups, courses, and other events, and we have used it well – the most packed out event of the year was Scott Hanselman.

The job is not done yet though: the rest of the offices are getting a makeover as well. Parts of the office are still a building site as we create new modern work spaces, break out rooms, a fancy new board room, and even a sleeping nook. But what I’m most excited about are the automated devices we’ve been integrating as we build. Expect a blog post soon all about the new office automation and all the possibilities.

Presentations:

Presenting has always been one of my favourite things about what I do. Getting to share what I’m passionate about with others who are similarly keen is fantastic, and if I get to travel the world to do it, even better! My wife asks me, is this travel work or fun? I always tell her, it’s work!  😀😀

This year I was lucky to speak at many events. These were my highlights:

A few highlights from the SSW-ers:

At the SSW Christmas getaway, some of the guys spoke of their highlights of the year.

Here are some of them:

  • Brittany [SSW Marketing] – Brittany spoke about how she and Marlon drive the marketing and events, and what’s worked and what hasn’t with our SEO. She showed how we got great results with Facebooks ads. Her efforts are what made our Angular courses the sell-out events of the year.
  • Adam S [Solution Architect / QLD State Manager] – Adam Stephensen talked about how he and Duncan Hunter been building FireBootCamp.com, our 6-week online course. He talked about how great Angular 2 is, but how several large changes during RC caused the whole course to need to be re-written several times. I always encourage the guys to use the latest frameworks, even when they are still in Beta – this time it caused some pain – sorry guys!
    Their passion and knowledge of Angular in all its forms has filtered down to all the SSW developers and been the reason we have such a great offering for how to learn Angular 2 fast.
  • Stephen [Senior Software Architect / VIC State Manager] – Stephen talked about how he brought something new to SSW – Hololens consulting and presentations. He has been doing an awesome job running the Melbourne office, cultivating both new and existing client relationships, and expanding our presence in Victoria.
  • Uly [General Manager] – Uly is a bit of a superstar. As well as being an awesome manager and ridiculously busy Scrum master, he’s overseen SSW’s foray into Power BI, and has been working on developing some exciting business partnerships.
  • Eric [Chief Architect] – Eric spoke of all his different projects. He’s also been an invaluable architect on loads of other client projects, and has been helping out with the office automation that we’ve been incorporating into the new SSW office. As mentioned earlier, there’ll be a full blog post on this coming soon.
  • Mark [Solution Architect] –  Mark’s use of Google Maps blew my mind. Imagine being able to look at a truck, then look at your iPhone and be able to see where it’s going, what it’s carrying, and whether it’s on time. That’s what Mark did. He has been hard at work leading a long-term client project, putting together an internal tracking system for a nation-wide courier company, supporting them refining their business process and improving the system, and developing an API to integrate with their mobile application.
  • Raj [Multimedia Producer] – If you’ve ever watched an SSW TV video or admired a photo we’ve posted, chances are it was created by Raj. It’s his hard work that made SSW TV so successful. In 2016, he implemented a new video style to keep us looking fantastic. His quality control prevented a Donald Trump impersonation video I made from going live! He also produces great home page videos for clients. His customers are thrilled with the results, and that makes me happy too!
  • Danijel [Solution Architect] – Danijel helps the developers keep the code quality higher and more consistent with Resharper, StyleCop, and more. This year he’s been doing two jobs as Marlon left a hole in the Sydney office when he moved to the Brisbane office. Danijel stepped in and won a number of new clients, all while still running client projects. He has also been working to move all of SSW’s TFS Team Projects to visualstudio.com, learning the hard lessons through experience, to benefit us all. We’re really looking forward to his user group presentation this month to find out more about it.
  • Anthony [Melbourne Solution Architect] and Shigemi [Developer] – These guys have been working on our e-learning platform, SugarLearning, to ensure it gets new employees up and running and provides continuous learning for the older guys. They also upgraded it so it’s running on the latest technologies, including Angular. Introducing Angular 2 to an established MVC application is not easy and I appreciate their hard work!
  • JK [Software Architect] – JK has been one of the great contributors to our DevOps maturity and has improved our Rules to better DevOps and Rules to Better Applications Insights. JK has also done great work on SSWTimePro, keeping it bug-free and customers happy. I know this task can sometimes be frustrating because it covers a wide surface area but he makes it look easy and always gets the job done with a smile.
  • William [Senior Software Architect] – William spoke about how we’ve migrated ourselves and our clients to SharePoint 2016 and Office 365. He’s a fan of going hybrid and sings the praises of Delve, the new SharePoint Framework, and the new iOS and Android apps for SharePoint.
  • Stan [System Administrator] – Stan gave an update of our internal infrastructure. I thanked him for keeping it up to date and running smoothly. This year he updated the site to site VPNs for Brisbane, Melbourne and Beijing on the new Ubiquiti router (how hard is that one to spell?!), and unified WiFi for offices in Australia. Now I can go to any of our offices and I’m automatically on the WiFi.
  • Cameron [Project Manager] – Cameron gave a really a fun presentation and makes us enjoy the journey. He has been an invaluable resource helping us get the SSW renovation done. He keeps us on track,
  • Farrukh [Senior Web Designer] – SSW TV is in for some big changes (you know there’ll be a blog post later this year!) and he is the man behind it all. He’s been working closely with me to make my ideas an elegant and functional reality, and I’m thrilled with the ideas we’ve come up with. How we achieve that remains to be seen.

On a personal note:

A sad farewell:

In March, we lost my mother in law, Stavroula. She was a treasured and integral part of our family, and we all miss her deeply. Both of my daughters wrote touching farewell blog posts for their yiayia – Eve’s postRuby’s post.

When it rains, it pours:

The storms that hit Sydney in June caused parts of my house to flood. These things tend to happen while I’m away and conveniently, I was in Norway at NDC. 🙂 The family had to move out for a few months so repairs could be made. Fortunately, we took it as an opportunity to try something new: city living. It was a lifestyle that the girls hadn’t experienced before, so while it was hard being away from home, it was a great chance for them to become temporary city slickers and see a different side of Sydney. Ruby gave a great write up of her thoughts on the experience on her blog.

That’s a wrap.

I’ll get back to trying to make a better SSW, sharing as much as we can with the community, and hopefully make our world that little bit better.

As always, I’m always happy to hear what you’d like to see more or less of from the SSW guys.