Inspiration

College is expensive. Students are forced to take jobs at local grocery stores and still have take loans. What makes situations worse is that nothing else gets cheaper, students have to pay for expensive services such as tutoring, haircuts, and food delivery. Additionally, when at college, pressure builds up on students and are forced to focus on getting good grades, researching, and applying for internships. This leads to a restriction on student’s aspirations and dreams of fulfilling the field they love.

What it does

Campus Marketplace creates a hub for students to earn money by providing services and save money by finding services at a cheaper price. Additionally, it gives students a place to explore their passions to another dimension by providing services related to their field of interests. At college, many students plan on becoming future entrepreneurs and to do so they find many peers who are specialized in certain skills. A student who needs makeup help could use College Marketplace to find someone skilled enough to help him or her with his or her makeup. Or a student who needs help with schoolwork could ask someone to tutor that person. The website allows for students to search for certain and specific services by category or by name. We also made sure that the services presented on the page would be geared specifically toward a student's college, so we had to make sure and filter what services we would show, depending on their college. Finally, we added a system to prevent harassment by checking the posts and services people would make or ask for since harassment is a common problem on college campuses; this way our application could not be used maliciously.

How we built it

This project was started using a Flask backend server. In order to manage data effectively, the team decided to use SQLAlchemy, a Flask integrated SQL database. The backend was hosted locally on one of our team member’s computer, in order to make it easier to monitor server-side behavior. The front end was built completely in HTML, CSS, Jinja2 (a flask integration), Javascript, and LESS. We decided to split up the work by having two full-time front-end developers and two full-time backend developers in order to effectively divide up the work.

Challenges we ran into

The ran into various challenges throughout the project but managed to overcome them through research and teamwork. The first challenge we ran into, which also coincidentally took the longest time, had to be set up all the backend and the file structures. One of our members had recently learned Django and believed it to be to best way to host our project; however, starting from scratch took a very long time and eventually the team decided to change the structure to support flask as a backend. Another challenge was developing a sophisticated user interface since we had to pull code from bootstrap, other APIs, and manipulate them to fit our needs. Several of the files overlapped and changed the front-end when implemented so we constantly had to research ways to work around and basically trick the system. We also did not know how to host the database on a localhost since we did not know how to host it online, which also posed a problem since we could not test our code simultaneously after every edit. This hurt us significantly when we tried making everything dynamically and incorporate the maps since we changed the maps functionality several times. We overcame this problem by setting up a team-standard on keywords, ids, and how to develop the code as well as plan on paper how our back end was set up. This way we could all work together simultaneously on the code through C9 and push to Github so we could run it locally.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

The project combined various separate aspects of computer science and we were especially proud of how much we learned and completed within the time period. We designed a wonderful and simple User Interface combining Bootstrap, HTML, Javascript, CSS, and LESS without any prior experience with LESS. Furthermore, this was the first time anyone on our team had developed a Flask backend system. The seamless integration with a python-flask file structure with all the components was definitely the most rewarding part of the project.

What we learned

As a team, we faced a lot of objectives during our time in the hackathon.  A major concept is a continued advancement in skills regarding bootstrap.  We newly tried out Cloud 9 as a Google Drive” type of coding compiler to check the live preview of our code’s effects as it happened.  We also became very familiar with new platforms, such as Bootstrap and Google Maps APIs. Another new concept we dealt with was sending emails directly from Python script to represent as an automated message.  

What's next for Campus Marketplace

What’s next for this project is to introduce an instant messaging system.  This addition would allow the members of the college community to connect on safer grounds other than external forms of social media.  By using Campus Marketplace instant messaging, students would be able to avoid online predators, catfishers, and sexual harassers.  As the social network requires a college ID, students who choose to cyber bully, harass, or be inappropriate online will be easily reported by the students to the administrators of Campus MarketPlace and be dealt by with college policies.  This Instant Messaging system will bring the distinct college communities closer together and provide a safe ground means for students and teachers to communicate virtually by protecting against online harassers.
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