Whether it be trying to find time for a meal during a busy day or getting in a midnight snack during an all-nighter, food is always on the minds of college students. Many students have turned to food delivery services, but these have many problems. From drivers not being able to find locations on campus, to long wait times, students need a better way to get food delivered quickly. Introducing, DormDash.
What it does
DormDash replaces the role of drivers with students who know the campus. Furthermore, by only focusing on restaurants on college campuses, we are able to offer a more personalized approach. Students can choose whether or not they want to deliver based on where they're going, and will never be stuck with some far-off out-of-the-way delivery. Additionally, we wanted to tap into the free-food market at colleges, so DormDash includes a feature where users can add events that will have food available.
How we built it
DormDash was prototyped in Adobe Xd to streamline the workflow process. We developed web scrapers to get the latest menu items at popular restaurants and parsed this into a NoSQL database. Firebase was used in order to provide real-time updates to the free food section of the app. Picasso, the open source image library, was used in order to load and process images much faster than through the built-in libraries. The app was developed in Java and XML in Android Studio.
Challenges we ran into
The websites we needed to scrape were all very different so our web scrapers took a while to get up and running. Parsing this data into our database also proved problematic as there were many illegal characters present. Passing data between screens was complicated due to the structure of the data.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Developing an app that will enable college students to easily get food without any hassle at the touch of their fingertips.
What we learned
The Serializable and Parceable interfaces for Java and Android, how to create custom RecyclerView Adapters, and building UI's that work well across multiple screens.
What's next for DormDash
We envision DormDash becoming the go-to for meal delivery not just at the University of Texas at Dallas, but in college campuses nationwide. With such an expansion, we can monetize DormDash by partnering and licensing our app to numerous universities. In the future, we can also incorporate other ways of getting food such as "meal exchanges" a system where a student is able to use their comet card to obtain food from certain franchises without paying in money.