Published on: 08 September 2019
Written by: Nick Stracke
The WebC. One of these weird committees that people usually never see or hear about. Who are they? Do they actually do committee work or do they just meet up and play Minecraft while they claim to be “working on the website”.
Let me tell you, the WebC is a real committee and does real work. It mostly focuses on the CognAC website (who would have guessed) but also manages NextCloud and the underlying server. Additionally, it has some side adventures such as Crash and Compile or setting up a CognAC Minecraft server – more on that later.
With the remainder of this post, I would like to shed some light on the WebC, the actual work it carries out, and give you an idea whether the WebC is a committee for you (just in time for the committee market – what a coincidence).
The WebC is a committee as every other CognAC committee and usually consists of between 5 and 10 members. As for everything CognAC related, it holds that everyone is welcome. It doesn’t matter if you are a complete website newbie or if you are an experienced website developer.
When I started, I didn’t know anything about developing websites. I had now idea how to “get a server running locally” or how to “run migrations on an SQL database”. Fortunately, the WebC is a really helpful community and managed to get me up to speed. We usually meet up one evening every week where we exchange knowledge, work together, give each other shit for bad code and most importantly – drink coffee. Sometimes these weekly meetings carry on till late but you decide when you come and leave.
During these meetings, I have learned a lot. I got familiar with Linux, established a proper git workflow, learned how to navigate a large project, worked with Docker and gained enough experience to develop my own websites. All skills that are highly useful for software-oriented occupations. And the best of it? I learned it all while having a ton of fun.
Who doesn’t love and hate the CognAC website? This is where you can sign up for your favorite activities or order some tasty pizza – just to hear later that your order didn’t go through and that you will have to stay hungry for the rest of the night. But why do such things happen? Let’s start off with some history.
The very first commit was on the 11th of December 2014 with the goal to quickly develop a website that could replace the old one. A lot of corners were cut and eventually the original team completely stopped working on the website. Subsequently, the website was more or less left untouched for almost one year due to one single bug. Once that bug had finally been resolved, a group of CognAC members started working on it again – now known as the current WebC. Since then, over 1600 commits have been made and over 400 files have been added. In other words, the website is quite a big project with a lot of technical debt.
As the WebC, we aim to continuously diminish the technical debt while developing new features, which is quite a challenge. Of course, we have control mechanism in place and there are even rumors of some unit tests but it does still take a lot of time and effort, which leads me to the goal of this post: If you are interested or merely curious, don’t hesitate to contact us! We are happy about every helping hand and will gladly teach you if you feel like you are not experienced enough.
If I become a member of the WebC, do I have to solely work on the main website? No, you don’t! The are also other projects that you can spend your time on. One idea that has been around for a bit longer is Crash and Compile (C&C), which is basically a combination of a coding challenge and a drinking game. Participants have to solve continuously more difficult coding challenges and submit their solutions. If there is a mistake in their source code or their output, they’ll have to take a shot.
A more recent idea is to setup a shared CognAC Minecraft server. So far, not much work has been done on it and help is still greatly appreciated. Other remaining projects are a Raspberry Pi that has to be setup to display upcoming activities on the TK screen (front-end already done) and websites of other committees that might need some work (e.g. OrC).
Through this completely unbiased and objective blog post I have hopefully managed to convey the appeal of the WebC to you. It is honestly a great learning opportunity and has helped me to greatly expand my skill set. Don’t be afraid that you will be lacking the necessary skills or the knowledge because everything can be learned. There are a lot of different tasks within the WebC so we will make sure that you don’t get bored. Lastly, if you have any questions, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.