I often sell my UCSD books for the quarter through the Facebook group Textbook Exchange and it had been extremely difficult to sell or even buy a book using that platform. You constantly have to check and keep scrolling down to find the book you want to buy, and then on top of that, you have to message that message not guaranteeing if that book has already been bought or not. Hence, I created Acebooks that makes buying and selling books much faster and efficiently.
How it works
Your profile is linked through Facebook, therefore minimizing fishy or phony interaction between people who may not want to really sell or buy anything. In order to sell your book, all you have to do is scan it and enter the price. You do not have to enter the name of the book, the course number, or the isbn. And in order to buy a book, you just enter the number of the course number and the app pulls all the relevant books that are in the database. A buyer can discreetly make a offer without letting everyone know what their offer is; this solves the issues of privacy where the seller doesn't want an offer to effect their end sale of their book. The app's goal is to make the user do as less things in order to buy/sell a book. When a buyer has brought the book, both the seller and the buyer can contact each other.
Challenges I ran into
The design of the app is very critical to how the user feels about using the app, hence I tried various designs of the app to figure out which one makes the most sense how the user would want to navigate it. The efficiency of the app is also one challenge I had to sort because the app utilizes the user's profile data very minimally so it doesn't make sense to pull up the data overtime the transaction needs to be made. Thus, I decided to have a local database and a remote database that the app connects. Local pulls data that needs to be used frequently and remote data pulls is pulled whenever a book is searched for.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I am proud that I was able to aggregate all of the information and successfully create this app. The app utilizes a lot of diverse material such as web scraping using python and Parse cloud API to bring to the user the most efficacious experience.
What I learned
I learned how to work with the cloud and handle it different from how a developer would treat a database. Most of the heavy duty things in the app are sent to the cloud to computer so that the user has all the data in few seconds after they request for it. I also realized that this app can be a powerful tool for the students to buy/sell things. It is the most simplest way I believe there is out currently. It involves crowdsourcing because as a lot of students start utilizing this platform, we will have a hub of promising buyers and sellers where one is dependent on the other to provide the services. We can incorporate buying of Amazon books right into the app late in the versions so that the user doesn't leave the app.
What's next for Acebooks
I would like increase the compute time for Acebooks, listen to user feedback and continue to update the app according to user experience and requests.