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Actualize Blog

September 4, 2015

Our Second Student Showcase

By Jay Wengrow, CEO of Actualize

We had a really nice turnout for our second Student Showcase, which took place on December 18, 2014 in the 1871 Auditorium. Our six graduates had each of their Capstone Projects on display, and the attendees made their rounds, meeting each graduate and getting a personal walkthrough of each app.

In case you missed it, here is what each student built:

Mark created a survey tool for teachers called Instructor Eval, similar to Survey Monkey and Wufoo, but with a critical feature that the aforementioned tools left out. With something like Survey Monkey, you can give students surveys to fill out regarding their instructors, but you can’t easily do a serious analysis of how the instructors are doing over time. With Instructor Eval, you can give the same surveys to new cohorts of students, and see meaningful visualizations (i.e. charts and graphs) that demonstrate how students are answering the same questions over a period of time. Is the instructor improving, or getting stale? Using a clever combination of custom Ruby APIs and an AngularJS front end incorporating the superb HighchartsJS library, this app is pretty much ready for production!

Janet, who is an artist, built a web app that makes it much easier for artists to apply for art shows. Submitting such applications is an arduous process, requiring the artist to submit a new resume as well as examples of past work for each show. This app allows the artist to have various resume details and examples of work all in one central location, and the artist can select which media will be sent in which application. Once you select the resume details and media, the app automatically generates a PDF version of your resume and includes the appropriate media samples and sends them all off in an email to the show directors! From a technical perspective, there are numerous interesting aspects, including having AngularJS based UIs consuming JSON APIs fueled by a Rails backend, and PDF generation using the Prawn library.

Bob created a single page application that allows a user to order all sorts of ice cream treats with various flavors in one easy and fun to navigate screen. The app makes heavy use of AngularJS and Rails APIs, and also integrates with Stripe for payment processing. The most interesting aspect of the app, however, was the fact that after you’ve placed your order, Bob had wired up a drone with JavaScript to actually deliver your ice cream! Bob also had real ice cream bars to distribute, which was a nice reward for everyone who watched his presentation!

Chris, a fan of Magic: The Gathering, built a very cool web application that allows users to upload their Magic decks and play against each other in real time. Under the hood, there were many technical things in play: Chris built his own Ruby gem serving as a wrapper around two third party Magic: The Gathering APIs that allowed users to simply name a card they owned, and the app automatically pulls all the images and data around that card so it can actually be used during the gameplay. By combining Websockets and AngularJS, realtime gameplay is seamless and fun. Once this hits the market, Magic fans will certainly have what to rejoice about!

Kyle, an avid sports player, found that he had a difficult time to organize pick up sports games. However, being equipped to build anything based on his newly acquired skills at ACLTC, he built “an app for that!” Called Game – Set – Match, users can choose a park in the city of Chicago (pulled from the Chicago Open Data Portal), and announce that a new game is being organized. Other users can then see that game on a map showing them games in their local area. They can then join that game – and boom! The game is organized. Using a Rails Backend, AngularJS in the front, and heavy reliance on the Google Maps API, this project is a technical piece of art. You can even see which types of courts are available in each park – indicated by special sports icons on the map!

Matt was fascinated by the Chicago Open Data Portal’s dataset around crimes that took place in Chicago over the past number of years, and wondered how millions of rows of data could be better parsed than seeing them in an Excel spreadsheet. So built an app that imports that data into his database, and then automatically displays that data in about twenty different visualizations! From heat maps to charts and graphs, you can slice and dice the data in so many different ways. One heat map shows you very quickly where the biggest pockets of crime take place. You can also see police station locations overlaid on that map to see what the correlation there may be. Other graphs showed things like in which months and what days of the week different types of crimes took place, as well as the correlation between crimes and outside temperature! Matt made heavy use of tools such as HighchartsJS in conjunction with a Rails backend to make this app the masterpiece that it is.

You too can build apps like these after twelve weeks at ACLTC! The next course begins just around the corner on January 4, 2015 – so apply now to reserve your spot.

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