Comrades: Our biggest original project yet!

Comrades the journey!

Have you ever searched for answers to textbooks and Tutsheets on DC? Ever faced the problem of not getting BitsNet when you need it the most? Have u ever asked for question papers and mess menus on your WhatsApp group? Have you ever thought of watching lecture slides on your phone? If your answer to any the questions above is yes then Comrades is the one-app solution for you. We at Mobile Applications Club were thinking to solve these problems, we came up with the idea of Comrades. But, Comrades was not a one-day idea which popped into somebody’s mind and boom we made the app. Before Comrades, we decided to make a moodle app which was technically easier to make but, couldn’t be achieved due to the unavailability of Moodle API and restricted permissions. We then decided to collect all the relevant material from DC and make an app using that. But, for how many courses could we collect material? And for how long will this be material suitable for everybody’s needs? Such an app’s end was already visible to us. It was at this time we came up with the idea of Comrades. Comrades, in simple words, is a file-sharing community app i.e. you can share your files with others and download their files too. So what differentiates this app from Whatsapp? This app makes sure that material stay’s updated and organized in your phone. You can add courses of your choice and access courses of other branches too. So, your branch no more decides which type of content will you be able to access and what will you study. Some people must be thinking that why do they need Comrades when they have DC, but Comrades is a much better option than DC in many ways. On comrades content is available to you 24x7, irrespective of the fact that uploader is online or not. You don’t need to search files, like on DC and you get notified whenever any user uploads a file to the course you like(Discussed in detail later). Comrades has many other advantages over DC, but for now, let’s look at How we made Comrades. If you are not a techie person, you can feel free to scroll down and have a look at the short summary of all the features our app has.

Making Comrades was not an easy task as there were many problems which we faced developing this app. Our first problem was storage. Where could we store these large number of files? This problem was to decide if this app was going to happen or not. After thinking a lot, we came up with the idea of using a user’s Google Drive to store files. This will allow complete access to the file with the user and we will be able to take advantage of the 3TB storage provided by Google to each of our college students. Thankfully we found a DRIVE API that does this. So, we made a basic prototype which upload and downloads files. The platform for a great app was set. But still, we need to think of many things. We don’t want some of the misusers to upload ill content on the app. So, we decided to give our users the responsibility of checking what someone uploads and we added a Recent Activity. We think this solves our problem to a great extent but, we will take more measures on this issue in the future. Another hard problem to deal with was that we didn’t want our users to face the problem of downloading the same file with the same name again and again. In simple words, we didn’t want content duplication. Here we took inspiration from DC and decided to hash the file before uploading. Every file will have a unique hash string and before uploading a file on Drive, we just check our database if any file already exists with the same hash string. Md5 solved hashing thing for us. A friend of mine asked me If they have to check the course every time for a new file upload? This problem was quite considerable. So, we added a subscribing option for the user to follow the courses of his choices. Every time a new file gets uploaded the users following the course will get a notification for that. To follow a course, simply click the bell icon present a right of courses you want to follow. So, in short, the major features of our app discusses/undiscussed here are:

  1. Add Courses of Your Choice
  2. Unlimited Files available anytime
  3. Complete offline support if you ever run out of Connectivity
  4. Option to follow courses of your choice
  5. Stay updated with what other people are doing on the app using Recents
  6. Proper Ranking System to keep you motivated

Solving these all issues and implementing these all features, there was a big question at the back of our minds: “Will People Upload?”. As already explained, Comrades is a community app. So, for someone to download, someone must upload the file. To solve this, we made Uploading and Downloading as user-friendly as possible. Enabled support for user to download and upload multiple files at a time. Added a proper ranking system to keep users motivated and keep them sharing. Soon, we will add a special Admin interface for users with top ranks to edit/delete the files uploaded by other users. We will give special mention to users on our app who will take the responsibility of maintaining our app. But, somewhere we know that whatever we add is useless until you decide to upload files on this platform and make this app an useful resource for everyone. The Comrades app has a lot of potential to grow and become an unlimited resource of rich and useful content for everyone. But for this, we need help from you and our community. So, start sharing your material on this app and contribute your part in making this app, “Something which Bits Goa needs”.
Happy Sharing!!

Also, we are planning to introduce a complete web interface for IOS users and other users soon. Some of the features we are going to introduce in android app are upvote/downvote feature for files, editing/deleting file option for the file owner and yeah, as already said An Admin Interface. If you have any other feature suggestions, problems with working of app or anything, please fill this feedback form: https://goo.gl/forms/QBHYsbNSF0u9AxM22