IMPORTANT: demo is here -- -- we've changed the session times for cis110 class for purposes of the demo. Type /join cis110 to enter the chatroom for cis 110.


  • Many times we've wanted to talk to our classmates. We were upset about the fact that we spend countless hours in class with people we never interact with.

  • We also felt that throughout class a lot of humorous situations arise and we wanted to comment about them, but were unable to do so.

  • Another problem we saw was that people were not sharing a lot of their information (grades, worries etc) and so we wanted a platform were people could share stuff while also remaining anonymous.

What it does

Paper Planes is a chat application that only lives while a particular class is in session. This means that you can only access the chat at the right times.

It's important to note that anything that you always remain anonymous and all the messages in the chat are deleted after the class session ends.

How we built it

We used the following technologies:

  • node.js for the backend
  • python script to grab all the penn classes
  • mongodb to store those classes and their times
  • sendbird for some of the chat interaction
  • javascript, ejs, html, css for the frontend

Challenges we ran into

  • We ran into some issues with being able to delete the chat messages after the class session had ended.
  • Since we were focusing on not having to use the mouse pointer for anything in the app, we ran into some issues with trying to have some behavior implemented in javascript to simulate a command line prompt.
  • Understanding the sendbird API so that we could get the chat messaging working.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Overall clean end product. We were worried it would be a bit too difficult to use, but people said UX was actually good.
  • We are also proud of how we divided the labor and integrated the different components of the project quite easily.
  • We also had a lot of great laughs/fun while making it.

What we learned

  • We learnt a lot about how just a small 25px scroll can make a huge difference in the usability of the product.
  • We learnt that focusing on simplicity allows you to execute a much more polished product while also making it easier to develop. It's a win-win. This can be hard though.
  • Coding makes you lose track of time. You think you are gonna finish by 10pm, and then you end up staying until 6am :P It always takes double the time you think it was going to take.

What's next for Paperplanes

  • We would love to add more features to the app, such as being able to like messages, being able to share files and pictures, etc
  • We would also improve the login/signup system to make it more secure.
  • If it proves to be useful, maybe think about expanding to other schools.
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