A junior is developing an app to enhance a night out with live updates of friends’ planned destinations.
During the summer of 2011, junior Julian Tigler enrolled in a free online course on iOS development at Stanford University. The class taught him how to use the basic computer science foundation he learned at Duke as a computer science major to create mobile applications for the iPhone and Android. Now, he is trying to change the way people make nightly plans with his new app, Shindig Mobile.
Owen Astrachan, director of undergraduate studies for computer science, said the world of coding is moving fast, but outside sources can help students become experts. Duke courses teach the fundamentals, but do not necessarily provide up-to-date real world experience.
“Our courses get you ready to go and figure something out,” Astrachan said. “We give you the tools so that you can say, ‘Oh, I want to go and make an iPhone or an Android app.’”
That is what Tigler chose to do. After finishing the Stanford course, he created the app Cipher Sender, which sends password-protected, coded text messages. It reached the top 100 free apps in Apple’s iTunes Store, Tigler said.
Last July, Tigler received an email from Alex Sloan, Pratt ’12. Sloan was part of a team that wanted to create Shindig Mobile, which allows users to see the nightly schedules of their friends who use the app and to post their own plans. Sloan and co-founders Hailey Friedman and James Rubinowitz needed a software engineer who could write the code.
Tigler, who is now named as a co-founder, said he was skeptical at first. “People often have ideas for great apps but almost 100 percent of the time they’re already on the app store,” Tigler said. “But that was why I was so excited about Shindig. It was a great idea and, at the same time, nobody else had thought of it.”
He started working on the project in late July and since has spent more than 600 hours writing the code.
Shindig’s prospective niche among social networking apps is that it helps users decide on their nightly destinations. Users can view a news feed showing them where each friend plans to go. They can also see a ranking of what venues are most popular on any given evening.
“I went to Devine’s [Restaurant and Sports Bar] last night and there was no one there,” said junior Glenn Rivkees, chief of infrastructure development for Shindig. “If I had known, I wouldn’t have gone.”
Rivkees also works as a project manager in The Chronicle’s online operations department.
Astrachan said Tigler is not the first Duke student to create apps while enrolled, and that some students have had lots of success in the field.
Cody Kolodziejzyk, Trinity ’12, developed an app called “I’d Cap That” that at one point was the top ranked free app in the iTunes Store. “I’d Cap That” generates humorous captions for photos in the iPhone library.
Tigler said the launch date for Shindig has been pushed back multiple times, but he and Rivkees continue to put in coding time each day in order to get Shindig prepared. They said it will be ready in the next few weeks.
“We want to make sure that when we launch it, we launch it right,” Rivkees said.