Peer to Peer Messaging at Lightning Speed on Affordable

Ohio University has a capstone course led by Professor Nasseef Abukamail to give students a broad range of development experiences. Whether that’s a software researching task, or exposure to an advanced tech stack that is used by popular companies in their industry, these students work for two semesters to build and expand on a project or idea. AFFORDABLE is fortunate to be included in the list of projects, with the desire to not only teach and mentor the skills of these students but ensure that their hard work will be utilized in a benevolent way to improve the community healthcare space. AFFORDABLE seeks to build and integrate features that will be an asset to community organizations to complement their current operations and better achieve their goals.

One component would be to effectively communicate with individuals who are interested in that organization’s programs. Those programs would want to be able to follow up with their applicants to do important tasks: schedule follow-ups, gather additional information, garner feedback, etc. This would be an effective tool if done seamlessly. So, the Lone Wolf Squad, as they named themselves, took on the task of creating and implementing a messaging system.

Previous teams have worked on creating the basic features of the chat including:

  • Create a user that can send messages
  • Send a message to one user that cannot be observed by other users on the chat
  • Have the message send and update in real-time
  • Create custom groups to exchange messages

This team has been working on refactoring the way that the messages are sent between account users, such that they are much quicker and responsive. The current system using “long-polling” to search for messages sent by the other user. Now, the system will use Websocket, which keeps a live communication between users, and is much more responsive to individuals in the message. While the team is only half way through the semester, they have been able to successfully send messages to each other using Websocket. Now this system will have to be integrated into our current messaging format, which will be worked on in the Spring Semester.

Read below for an interview with Alex Schakel, one of the team leaders on the project, and their experiences thus far on the project.

Where are you currently enrolled in college?

I’m currently enrolled at Ohio University

What is your development team name? Who is your professor?

Our development team name is CS Dudes and our professor is Nasseef Abukamail

Who were the members on your team?

The members of our team are Alexander Schakel, Rocco Pearce, Zach South, and Mitchell Bush

What was the goal of your software engineering project?

The goal of our project was to primarily debug the chat functionality of AFFORDABLE and implement WebSocket technology as well

What tool/features did you have to create?

We are mainly working with the existing codebase; however, we have been discussing scrapping it altogether and starting over with a prioritization on WebSocket technology

What skills did you learn during the semester?

We have had to learn React, JS, and TypeScript. We have also had to become more familiar with WebSockets

What did you enjoy about working with Affordable?

I enjoy the support that I have gotten. The existing documentation is quite vast and the Zulip chat is a priceless resource

What are your future career plans?

My future career plans will be to join JP Morgan next July as a software developer as part of the 2022 cohort

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