Inspiration

Nothing is more frustrating than spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks, just to find out that you never even cracked them open! College is getting more and more expensive, and in an effort to prevent students from wasting money on textbooks they'll never use, we created TextBase.co!

What it does

TextBase.co is a college textbook review site intended to be as transparent as possible about the usefulness of these expensive textbooks. Students can not only gain insight about how effective certain textbooks are, they can also feel comfortable that they will be putting their money to good use when they do decide to purchase a textbook. Students can search up a textbook and see the reviews of other students. They can also leave their own reviews, and if they find a textbook that hasn't been reviewed yet, they can add that book to help future students!

How We built it

Many technologies went into building this product, most of them new to both of us. On the development side, we used Javascript, HTML and CSS. On the back-end, we used Linode to host our website and Parse to easily maintain our data.

Challenges we ran into

The most obvious and frustrating challenge was syntax. Neither of us had a lot of experience with web development before MHacks, so we spent a lot of time on trial and error, trying to learn multiple new languages. Another challenge that we ran into dealt with dynamic data. Because we had to query the data from Parse, we weren't able to create static fields and simply change the values. Instead, we had to create all of the headers, buttons, text fields, etc dynamically. Doing all of this implementation and formatting was very tedious and sucked up a lot of time.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

One of our proudest accomplishments is building a running website in languages that we had no exposure to before Friday. Another accomplishment that we're proud of is one that is not so obvious yet, but it is hopefully one that will stand out in the near future, and that is the fact that we're addressing a need among students. Many students post in class Facebook pages or Reddit pages asking about certain textbooks or certain courses. However, with the hundreds and thousands of posts that show up on these sites everyday, their questions can easily get lost and forgotten. TextBase.co consolidates all of the information and allows students to find the information they are looking for.

What we learned

Again, we learned a lot of different languages. However, we learned that even with Parse to make things simple, handling large amounts of data is extremely difficult and frustrating. Finally, we learned that sleep is important.

What's next for TextBase

One of the features that we wanted to implement, but didn't have enough time, was to be able to search by school. This way, a student would not have to know the title of the book. Instead, they can search up the school, then select the course, and automatically receive the review for that course's textbook. We also hope to implement a searching algorithm, instead of only testing for exact matches, like we are doing right now. Eventually, we hope that TextBase.co will be able to be linked up with end-of-term surveys, thereby providing as much information as possible.

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