Hacker Club revamps Course Picker

By Jonathan Li | 11/8/12 4:00am

With winter break approaching, course selection is underway. One of the most popular tools regarding course selection is Course Picker, a web application created by the Hacker Club. A recent revamp this term has seen to a complete revision of the site, with great hopes from the Hacker Club for further improvement.

“Adding reviews is easier,” said Pospisil. “Reviews are a key resource because old reviews become less relevant. It’s not right that professors are viewed through the lens of students from ’02.”

Individual student reviews are able to be viewed individually, as well as on course and professor pages.

The Course Picker is the successor of the Student Assembly’s Course Guide, which was developed around ten years ago and maintained by SA. The Course Guide amassed approximately 30,000 student reviews before being shutdown in the spring of 2010 due to a lack of maintenance. The Course Guide was replaced briefly by a third party service, CourseRank. However, the Hacker Club, unsatisfied by CourseRank’s lack of reviews, resurrected the full Course Guide in February 2011. Later that spring, the first iteration of the Course Picker was released with a new interface and all the old reviews.

Though old course data and reviews were easy to attain, the Hacker Club continues to struggle to attain information on upcoming courses.

“We have to wait until the Office of the Registrar puts the timetable on the website," Pospisil."Every year we have to rewrite the portion of the app that imports course data.”

Pospisil noted that by working together with the Office of the Registrar, there would be less difficulty acquiring that data.

The Hacker Club, a computer programming club consisting of approximately a dozen students, provide a collaborative environment for both new and experienced programmers alike. Meeting once a week, club members work together on student initiated projects, such as the Course Picker, working out bugs and coding new features into the project.

The Hacker Club also teaches coding languages to new members who have little or no experience with computer science. “We’re always interested in having new programmers, we’re happy to have them join,” said Pospisil.

As for future goals, the Hacker Club has several projects underway. For the Course Guide, the Hacker Club is looking to improve accessibility to individual reviews. They also aim to implement a single Google-esque search bar in the place of the current search options. The Hacker Club is also working on revamping the Blitz List Maker to go along with the decommissioning of Blitzmail. But a big project to look forward to in the next term is a new lost and found application, where users will report items they’ve lost and found, like North Face sweatshirts, and connect with one another.

Jonathan Li