There comes a time in an Illini's life at the UIUC when a question arises: just how much space is available at Grainger right now? Besides the estimate of your friends who have been living in the libraries since the start of the school term, there's just no reliable way to tell how occupied a study space on campus is - and that's when CrowdLib comes in.

What it does

CrowdLib provides and takes in user data to indicate how occupied a certain place is, along with other characteristics of the location. It will display the various study spaces available on campus, and show a brief summary of the status of the place.

Upon clicking on a location, a more detailed status will be shown along with a Google Maps window to pinpoint the exact location, along with various user comments, all provided in a simple and elegant design. From here, the user can choose to add a comment of his/her own, as well as push a certain comment above all other comments on display.

Furthermore, the website keeps track of the most popular locations, reordering the locations from the most popular to the least.

Overall, CrowdLib aims to provide a simple yet highly effective method to quickly find out how full study spaces are, to avoid students having to embark on a hunt for a quiet studying area.

How we built it

Framework used: Ruby on Rails.

We started off by sketching out possible layouts for the screen. We wanted to base the entire website on intuitive design, allowing anyone to be able to navigate and take advantage of the website's features.

When the initial visuals were set up, the team implemented key features onto the website - from Google Maps API, search filters to a dynamic comment section.

Challenges we ran into

  • Lack of sleep
  • Question our design philosophy throughout the entire development process
  • Successfully understanding and implementing a framework and language we have never used before.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • _Successfully understanding and implementing a framework and language we have never used before. _ Prior to the hackathon, our team had no prior experience in Ruby on Rails, and no in-depth skills on HTML and CSS. However, the team still pulled through and managed to make full use of the framework in the creation of CrowdLib.

What we learned

  • A whole new language and framework
  • Design philosophy of websites for optimal user experience.

What's next for CrowdLib

  • Location integration to further validate the user's current location before allowing them to input data for a place.
  • Validate users' inputs by taking an average of the ratings of studying areas
  • Provide specific time frames to indicate how full a place is - allowing data to point out the occupation of a space for an entire day is not effective.
  • Provide incentives for user input: with the help of nearby cafes, indicate on-going coupon/deals around study areas. Also possibly allow users to work towards a cafe deal by contributing more to the website.
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