The Book.Ed Project – week 8

/Hans Christian Gregersen, MyEd Developer Intern

Suggester ApplicationI’m a 3rd year Computer Science student from the School of Informatics. My academic interests lie within Artificial Intelligence and Formal Philosophy, and as a developer I’m interested in the full stack of data-driven web applications.

Together with Paul Sinclair and Judy Duong, I am working on both the design and implementation of a new mobile MyEd channel that we believe will simplify and improve the way students find and book study spaces on campus. The idea and early prototype of ‘book.ed’ came about at the Smart Data Hack during Innovative Learning Week earlier this year when Paul and I came together with a team of other student developers to build an application that could suggest students on where to find available study-spaces anywhere on campus based on MyEd’s PC-accessibility feed. The application was awarded the ‘student-experience’ prize and as a result was chosen by MyEd to develop the project into a full-fledged mobile application. In addition to recommending open-pc study spaces we’ve extended the domain of suggestions to include all bookable rooms across the entire university. A lot of our time and efforts the first three weeks were focussed on obtaining the relevant data-feeds from the central room-booking database that will supply our application with information about a room’s geo-location, suitabilities etc. As a result, we’ve been collaborating first-hand with the University’s own developer teams on the design and requirements of these feeds. The feeds will be used to populate our own database, which in turn is going to serve our mobile-application that we’re building in the popular programming language python 3.4 in tandem with the industry standard web-development framework Django 1.8.

frontpageWe’ve spent a fair amount of time developing the algorithms that will allow the user to filter room suggestions, and we’ve built a tentative mobile-first user-interface that by and large includes the whole functionality that we want our application to have. This week, we took the big leap out of our ‘local’ environment and went on to deploy our application on a university test-server. Hosting our project in the cloud enables us to experiment with EASE-authentication and is useful for testing new features in production. By now, most of the issues pertaining to getting the relevant data have been resolved with the one exception being the feeds on room availability, which has proved difficult to test in development. With most of the infrastructure in place, our main challenges ahead lie within front-end development i.e. the user-interface and the general ‘feel and look’ of the application from the user’s perspective. Alongside work on the back-end, we’ve been developing multiple competing lines of interface designs, and in the coming weeks we plan to test these with real students. We hope student feedback will prove useful in making the right design decisions at an early stage of the project, and we are committed to testing our applications against real-life users whenever feasible to make sure we’re building a service that students – ourselves included – actually want!

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