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  • Happy Holidays and a 2016 wrap-up from Overleaf

    Posted on December 30, 2016
    Team Overleaf 2016 photos

    Happy Holidays from everyone here at Overleaf! It’s been an incredible 2016 – thanks in large part to all of our super, amazing, fantastic customers! We’re so appreciative of your support!

    We thought it would be fun to share some of the highlights from our year here at Overleaf… both for the company and our team. We hope you’ll find it interesting and we’d love for you to share your own 2016 highlight! Join the fun and share your favourite #BestofOverleaf 2016 memory.

    Happy Holidays!!!

    A year in numbers...

    As of the end of 2016, Overleaf has...

    • over 500,000 registered users on Overleaf!
    • over 6,000,000 documents created using Overleaf!
    • 175 advisors promoting and supporting Overleaf around the world!
    • Over 20 institutional partnerships – and more to announce in early 2017!
    • Over 20 publishing partnerships – including hundreds of journal authoring templates and simplified submission links!
    • Posted 64 blog articles (including this one)!
    • Reached 33,398 twitter followers and tweeted 1,265 nuggets of gold!

    And some fond memories from the team…

    Scroll down to read everyone's memories from 2016, or use this handy clickable-list to go directly to your favourite – we won't tell anyone ;-)

    Tim Alby, Full Stack Software Developer

    Tim Alby 2016 photos

    In 2016, professionally, I've mostly worked on tasks not directly visible to end-users. The main projects I worked on:

    • The Campus Challenge 2016, in the beginning of the year (look out for the 2017 Challenge beginning in January!)
    • Integrating Taxamo to comply with VAT requirements (Feb-April)
    • The Team Hub for e.g. institutional licenses (May-June)
    • Read-only mode (August-Now). Before creating the new read-only mode, we had to make modifications to the way we store some content. This involved moving millions of files around on the servers of our cloud providers.

    I love metrics, so I had a look at some numbers. In 2016 so far:

    • I created 483 commits (blocks of change)
    • I completed 204 Pull Requests (groups of commits reviewed, approved and deployed)
    • In total, I added 965,822 lines to the codebase and removed 1,993,783 lines

    In 2016, personally:

    This year was (is) a big year of changes for me! In the beginning of the year I travelled for 3 months in South America, while working part-time. I loved that experience so much that I decided to completely switch to a location-independent lifestyle in September: I left my flat in London, put everything I own in storage and reduced my belongings to a single backpack. I now live everywhere (or nowhere, it depends how you look at it). And I still work part-time for Overleaf. I love it. Since September I took time to visit friends, learn how to kitesurf, and discover new places. I'm extremely lucky to be able to live like this. As I now have more time on my hands, I've decided to help other in need, and that's why I ended-up in Athens for a month, helping out as much as I can (which is too little) in a refugees camp.

    In the year 2016 I lived in 10 different countries, and I hope to continue on that road in 2017.

    Mary Anne Baynes, CMO

    Mary Anne Baynes 2016 photos

    Whew! What a year! It’s been more amazing than I can express. :-) A few things to mention…

    For Overleaf, I have closed or helped to close partnerships and business with 14 publishers / societies, 4 institutions, and multiple industry partnerships. I have personally attended 16 industry events and helped to coordinate our attendance at 47 events all over the world! And we have sent out THOUSANDS of ducks, silly-putty, t-shirts, stickers and pens. Our sales and marketing team doubled in size with the addition of Ryan and Villy to the team. Yay! And I’m very happy to say I was on the winning team of ‘It Never Happened’ at the ALPSP conference dinner trivia battle, along with my super-smart Overleaf-mates, Ryan and Villy . :-)

    Personally, it’s been equally busy! My twin 16-year old boys have kept me and my husband busy with wakeboarding and running cross-country. If we’re not home dealing with cross-country meets and school-work, we’re at the lake trying to nail the coolest new trick on the wakeboard. Or we’re at various comedy venues - my boys have a love of improv comedy, so we get to laugh a lot watching them perform with various comedy groups. I can’t laugh enough - my goal for 2017...more laughing.

    Hayden Faulds, Software Engineer

    Hayden Faulds 2016 photo

    I joined Overleaf just a few short months ago and found myself in a friendly and welcoming team.

    So far I've been enjoying working on how access to projects is managed and backend issues to keep everything running smoothly. I moved into a new house this year with my wonderful partner and together we've gradually made it into our home for the foreseeable future. We have also just started the process of temporarily homing guide dog puppies.

    Needless to say I'm excited for what 2017 has in store for Overleaf and for myself personally.

    Caroline Glassberg-Powell, Software Developer

    Caroline Glassberg-Powell 2016 photos

    This year I moved back to the UK after two years studying in New Zealand, where I received a first-class masters in Environmental Science, for researching why ecological sanitation is not common in the West. For Overleaf I have refactored the servers which manage the preview; completed a project for one of our big publishers; and attended an open data conference in Berlin where I participated in a hackathon for science reproducibility. It's been a pretty hectic year, including moving house six times, so my goal for 2017? Move less!

    John Hammersley, Co-founder and CEO

    John Hammersley 2016 photos

    For me, 2016 has been a year of firsts:

    • The first time we've begun a year with a daughter! Julia Grace is now 14 months old, and this Christmas has moved from baby to toddler :)
    • In January, I took part in my first Reddit AMA, on the science subreddit. I talked about the one-way transition from academia to industry to start-up founder, and it sparked a whole host of follow up blog articles and talks I've given on the subject throughout 2016, including this guest post for the Times Higher Education blog.
    • In March/April, my wife Liz and I attended the UK West Coast Swing Championships in London – we've been for the past four or five years, but this was the first time we took Julia...and Liz's parents as babysitters whilst we danced!
    • In May we held our seventh (!) FuturePub, and had a record attendance at The Stables! I guess free beer and pizza does work ;)
    • In June, Julia started to crawl for the first time, whilst on holiday in France!
    • In July we hosted our first Overleaf conference on Enabling Research Collaboration, in London. Somehow we managed to pick my birthday for the event, but at least this meant I got cupcakes to celebrate!
    • In August, Overleaf was featured in the Times Higher Education Magazine and I was delighted to accept an invitation to join the PaperHive Advisory board!
    • In October, Liz and I, along with our daughter, spent the whole month in a camper van in New Zealand (with me taking a short trip to Melbourne in the middle for the eResearch conference)! Suffice to say it was an amazing trip; we met lots of wonderful people and saw some fantastic scenery and landscapes :)

    I've also attended and spoke at more conferences in a year than I've ever done before, which was both awesome and exhausting; looking back at my calendar from 2016, I seem to have had one every other week! And speaking of calendars (yes, that was a terrible lead in)...have you got your 2017 Dodecahedron Desk calendar yet? A new year gift for the mathematician in your life ;)

    Villy Ioannou, Institutional Sales Manager (EMEA)

    Villy Ioannou 2016 photo

    2016 what a fantastic year it has been - full of good times, nice surprises, and great challenges! Apart from traveling to breathtaking new places including the Alps and the Bay of Biscay, I am so happy to have had the pleasure of working with wonderful people from all over the world and of all backgrounds, couldn’t ask for more! The scholarly publishing world never ceases to amaze me and this year I managed to contribute a little bit more to the Open Access Movement before diving into the amazing opportunity of joining the fabulous Overleaf team back in September!!!! Moving into technology and author services I have learned a zillion new things, attended amazing events, engaged closer with the community and opened the doors to new collaborations and partnerships with institutions across Europe! A number of new institutions are in the pipeline already and I can’t wait to work with them in 2017! Filled with excitement when supercool team ‘It never happened’ received the 1st prize of the ALPSP quiz! Excitement I can’t hide it seems :-) – A picture is worth a thousand words (see photo)

    I thank the entire team at Overleaf for all the support and guidance provided and I look forward to a successful and fun 2017!

    John Lees-Miller, Co-founder and CTO

    John Lees-Miller 2016 photos

    My 2016 highlights include...

    • I lead a session on driverless cars at the annual Sci Foo un-conference at the Googleplex, and Larry Page turned up for my session. Sadly, he was not giving out rides in the Google cars!
    • I was nominated as a Docker Captain after my blog post about setting up Node JS applications in Docker.
    • I finally wrote up the results of tracking all of my time for a year last year.
    • I finally bought a flat with my lovely partner, Hope.
    • I drove around California and Nevada for two weeks and visited Death Valley. My hobby: taking pictures with inaccurate signs (see photos right – click to enlarge).
    • I helped the team launch the full project history feature on Overleaf (but of course Ali and Ioana did most of the work).

    It's been a pleasure and a privilege to lead our amazing dev team this year. We have big plans for 2017, so stay tuned for more exciting Overleaf features and integrations.

    Lian Tze Lim, Community TeXpert

    Lian Tze Lim 2016 photo

    2016 is the year when I fully transitioned to remote working from home, which gave me great flexibility and a chance to recuperate. And I get to work on all things LaTeX! This past year with Overleaf I've written many, many templates for journals and universities, and I continued to be amazed by all the crazy and wonderful things that can be pulled off with LaTeX. These were often inspired by users' questions and requests—among them music scores, and getting markdown into the mix! This was also the year when I gave several LaTeX-related talks outside my home country. Back home, I'm also picking up playing the piano again along with my daughter, and a pair of zebra doves have just had their third batch of eggs this year in our garden!

    (Off-topic about the zebra doves: they decided they liked our tree about five months ago, and deigned to nest it in (not very common hereabouts)! First hatchlings; mommy was very protective – every time we sneaked closer to take a look, the chicks would curiously poke out a head to look back at us, but mommy would be "GET DOWN GET DOWN BOTH OF YOU" and dragged both kids back down below her by just, well, squashing them down into her nest with... what would be her bust, I guess. Second batch, though, when we got close she's all like "yeah yeah yeah snap those pictures all you want, whatevs" and let the chicks pose for us.)

    Ryan Looney, Client Onboarding & Support Manager

    Ryan Looney 2016 photo

    My happenings for 2016...

    At work:

    • Joined Overleaf!
    • Documented the Institutional Onboarding process, and am still working to make it standardized, replicable, and efficient.
    • With lots of help from LianTze, transferred our client Q&A docs and our Institutional Onboarding doc to Overleaf.
    • Presented on behalf of Overleaf at the Highwire Publisher meeting in DC.
    • Created a client survey template in Qualtrics to make creating surveys easier.
    • Wrote some blog posts (e.g. about the Full Project History feature), and recorded a few short instructional videos (e.g. on How to Link your ORCID account to Overleaf).
    • Helped Team "It Never Happened" triumph at the ALPSP trivia contest.
    • Attended FuturePubs in London and Boston.
    • Created internal documentation for some Admin console tasks.
    • Only brought down the whole system once (thanks to Tim for finding and fixing it so quickly).


    • My daughter Sami (age 8) started second grade, learned to knit, grew a lot, and is learning to play the fiddle.
    • My son Max (age almost 11) started a new school this year, rode in his first real mountain bike races, ran in his first cross country meet, and is learning to play the ukulele.
    • I am scheduled to give my final speech toward my Competent Communicator award for Toastmasters on December 6. The CC award requires 10 speeches, each with a different focus, of 5-7 minutes in length, that are evaluated by club members. Over the past year, I've given speeches on folk wisdom, the Crozet tunnel, Overleaf, how to prepare for a speech, and other topics.
    • Adopted Petunia, a friendly, noisy, energetic, three-legged, yellow kitten (see photo!)

    Michael Mazour, Senior Developer and Architect

    Michael Mazour 2016 photo

    Like many others I'm left largely at a loss for words by 2016, bless its heart. But I'm really pleased by the progress Overleaf has made in rendering: we're now rendering more LaTeX projects at a time, across more servers, for more simultaneous users than ever before, and we're doing it quicker too, while still keeping costs in line. We've made a lot of other improvements in the system this year, including integrations with amazing services such as ORCID, but for me the improvement in the rendering service is a real standout.

    Shelly Miller, Sales & Academic Outreach Manager

    For my 2016 wrap-up, I felt that a photo montage would best capture and summarize the awesome experiences I had championing Overleaf in 2016. From visiting with institutions in the US, Australia, Canada and the UK to witnessing the unique natural beauty and animal encounters in each of these regions of the world. I was also able to fit in a few rock concerts, urban mural viewing, regular beachcombing / sunset watching and a visit to the barn where my nephew feeds horses part-time. I attempted to capture all of these amazing experiences in a 60 second photo montage (with a fun trailer intro). Enjoy!

    Hugh O'Brien, Software Developer

    Hugh O'Brien 2016 photo

    In 2016, I...

    • Got my masters in computer science from Imperial College London which involved a research project using deep learning techniques to improve the usability of medical imaging data.
    • Started working at Overleaf! Spending most of the past few months working on features for publishers to better understand how their authors use our service.

    Ali Smith, Software Developer

    Ali Smith 2016 photos

    I think the major event of my year would have to be taking my Scout group to the Swiss Alps in July. It is was a pretty big trip for me as I was in charge of organising the programme, which took over a year to plan! We did some hiking, white water rafting, climbing, high ropes courses, mountaineering and campfires.

    It went extremely well, and we got great feedback from the Scouts. See pics.

    Ioana Tagirta, Software Developer

    Ioana Tagirta 2016 photos

    In 2016, I...

    • Delayed the launch of the full project history feature, since there was always something that could be improved.
    • Learned how to ride a bike!
    • Went to Japan where I ate delicious food, soaked in hot springs and chased wild but friendly animals.

    Did you miss anyone?

    Here's that handy clickable-list again, just in case :-)

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