Journey of Udacity Google India Challenge Scholarship 2018 Part#1

How it helped me build EazyCampus: College app!

Sreekant Shenoy
May 5, 2018 · 9 min read

I could still recall the moment when I saw this mail from Udacity saying I was selected among 10,000 students all around India for Google India Challenge Scholarship. It was not just exciting, but an another chance to learn something once again which I left a long time ago, which was Android App Development.

Acceptance Mail from Udacity

The Google India Challenge Scholarship better to me is another beautiful journey I have encountered in my life. The course was scheduled for next 3 Months starting from 14th February, A Valentine’s day ❤ for coders.

Like I said, the 1st phase consisted of 10,000 students from undergraduates, graduates to working employees. Katherine Kuan & Kunal Chawla were our instructors. They were really informative & humorous and never kept us bored.

We even had a forum where we could discuss our queries where the members & mentors would help us with any problem. Indeed a great initiative by Udacity & Google India.

The 2nd phase to this course would be only for 350 top performing candidates with duration of 6 months, and like everyone other I too wish to be a part! 🙂

Little About Me

I am Sreekant Shenoy, 18, First Year Electronics student at TKM College Of Engineering, Kerala. I really wanted to opt for CSE, but that’s another long story! Computer to me was such a passion from the beginning itself.. mainly playing games!

This is me (Sreekant Shenoy) :D

Cool fact I don’t play games any more. I am doubtful if it wastes my time which is useful. To everyone who asks me how did I learn to type faster on keyboard, I would say by playing games with cheat codes. Believe me it works! 😋

Then my interest shifted to the whole of this computers working. Making something from the very beginning and automating everything.

Then a coder was born. 😉

I am always keenly interested in learning how everything is coded and I try to ask and learn every approach to a solution. I mostly love working with Python and working with web servers and the internet.

Previously I tried to learn Android Development a year before where I could make only up to 2 screens in the app, but that was nothing perfect and everything was so confusing. I must say, that I tried almost 2–3 tutorials for this, but I failed to understand how exactly the code works.

I don’t know how I got to know about this Udacity Scholarship Programme I guess Google Ads brought me. 🤣 But it was so much worth it!

This is the photo I posted on Facebook a few days back of me working on my project. Everyone one of my friends are really excited to see the final app. P.S I never told them that this is for an Android App. It’s still a surprise!

Building EazyCampus : The Useful College App Ever!

EazyCampus by far I could remember is the website that still holds this retro style look in this 21st century.. There are plenty of reasons behind choosing EazyCampus website to work for this app and I will let you know why in a minute!

Creating any app.. basically any requires some necessity or a problem where suitably a solution could be put by.

Being a college student, Everything was challenging to me. Maintaining a pass marks as well as the time to learn and code this app was never something scheduled beforehand. You will surely understand how busy you were when you had to learn everything single subject in the first year!

I eagerly wanted this app to be my first contribution like a goal which I should accomplish every year of my Engineering. As for an exciting part, I want to show Udacity that I build this app. For them to see this, I had to build this app before the course ends.. ie. in 3 months.

That was tough for me since my first year college was coming to an end and I had to give my semester exams in 2 months and I couldn’t miss my great opportunity of getting into phase 2 of this course.

I would be studying for my exams by the time you are reading this.

EazyCampus 2.0 Redefined.

So I planned beforehand to stay focused and complete this course in one weekend. Also I was soo excited to learn this. I sat down Saturday & Sunday straight 9am–10pm and did the course in 2 days, which I never thought was possible. I completely ensured that I did not miss anything, Wooho.. I did it finally!👏

Nothing goes right when you start making your first BIG project by yourself and that’s exactly what happened.

I promised myself to learn something new everyday or at-least twice in a week from other sources, as I knew I had to keep in touch with coding and finish it as early as possible.

The reason for picking up our college website was to easily see the attendance and internal exam marks on our mobile phone. The website was not at all optimised for mobile view, and desktop mode in mobile was too difficult to browse through.

So the Day #1 next day marked the beginning, in an another boring lecture day , I started to design a rough sketch of my EazyCampus app and what important features to include that would benefit students of our college.

Some extra features it would be featuring:

  1. Attendance Booster: A wonderful feature which let’s students know how many classes they need to attend OR can bunk 😉 to get 75% minimum percentage.. I really need this!
  2. Faculty Directory: A Search list of all teacher’s contact number and their details. Just a better version than storing them all on our phone or asking someone else. 🙄
  3. Automated Evaluation: This is basically a staff evaluation where in all students are mandatory supposed to evaluate each teacher’s way of teaching. It takes lot of time filling in 10 check boxes for each teacher. Which means, suppose there are 15 teacher’s, we are to tick 150 check boxes. 🤦‍♂️ Also, they don’t give importance to this rating. So it’s simply useless. Automated this in one GO was the best solution.
  4. Timely Notification of College announcements and Exam Timetable Updates from the website which our college is affiliated through.
  5. Academic Calendar: To let the students eagerly know when their exams are gonna start & mainly when our vacation is going to begin.😎
  6. MOST Importantly the Academic Marks and Attendance.

Designing the Layout in Photoshop

The designing process is always a time consuming process at the same time exciting for me. One reason why I love designing is that it gives us the first impression of anything before starting to code.

I wanted everything to look professional with minimal material design.. something which everyone would love to opt for instead of browsing the original website.

I kept everything simple. Google Sans by the way has become my favourite font and I would love to implement that font in the next release of this app hopefully.

Nothing is complete in an app without a perfect logo branding.

EazyCampus Logo Redefined

This logo represents the scholar’s shoulder enlightened within the ocean of books with knowledge. Like its said, A powerful tool to change the world. A small square academic cap representing the fully accomplished Engineer.

Coding begins a week later

I was all taught to make apps on Android Studio, so the journey began on that. Wait.. did I tell you this is my first every bigger project of making an Android app. Yeah!!

I always like to work on each activity/app screen at a time. However I do beforehand make and setup the screens with basic template codes. The coding was really the interesting part. I got to learn many many things!

First of all, it was the first time I was trying to code in Java, which I had just learnt from this course. It was okayish easy for me to understand Java since I knew C++.

When ever I get doubts, I would quickly search google. Bamn.. All hail the Stackoverflow to your every question’s solution. You can get to see the wide range of ideas and methodology approaching to every solution to your question. Exactly what every coder should learn!

The app basically works on getting the content from the web, which is the EazyCampus website. Initially while developing the code to grab content from the website, I had some silly silly problems. Getting a static content from the website and showing it in the app was simple as using JSoup module.

Out of this whole project, The most difficult part to me was getting a dynamic content from the web which kept changing on every button click without page refresh.. also known as AJAX. I discovered the solution only last week (in between exam holiday 😅), that too without Stackoverflow. It felt like a winning moment!

Believe me or not Kanishk Sajnani (White Hat Hacker | Security Researcher), It was your article which struck me with the solution.😊 I immediately took out my laptop and grabbed every HTML response with Burpsuite and wow.. It worked flawlessly. Thank you soo much!

Time I spend on this project?

The project work started on 28th February, so the time would be more than 2 months to be precise. Every day.. aah It’s better to say Every week..something or the other new code was added to the app.

Starting something and not closing is never on my list. I always keep this up to my strategy.

Now the EazyCampus app version 1.0 is 70% complete. I would love to show the after works.. but I am currently in my semester exams and isn’t able to complete the entire designing of the attendance and marks page. Everything still working though. Just take a sneak peek!! 😍

I will update this post once I get to complete everything before this month.

The app release would be only after the college authorities granting me permission to publish this app on the Play store. I will post the PlayStore link down below once I they allow.. Else..ahh!

I hope they do. 😁 They should be doing it! 🤗

UPDATE: I got selected for the second phase. Part 2 of this article coming soon.

I would like to Thank Google India & Udacity India for providing me this wonderful opportunity for selecting me in your course and helping me move so much in life. I would love to be in your second phase too!

Read Part #2: Building EazyCampus Part#2

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