October 25, 2021

If the app doesn’t exist, let’s write it!

People consistently use apps on phones and tablets to help throughout the day-be it with work, or to keep up with others, or just to give us something to do. 

Dr. David Reed, computer science professor here at Capital, is someone who was unable to find apps that could do exactly what he wanted so he decided he would create his own apps to help with his teaching here at Capital.

At first, Reed created a simple app to keep track of attendance. It was a hassle to keep a printed-out excel spreadsheet for attendance, only for it to inevitably get lost at some point in the semester, so he decided to create his own.

Reed said, “I realized I could write apps for this thing that I carry around in my pocket, you know, it’s just a cool thing to do.” 

A newer, reworked version of that app is still available on the Apple App Store named Attendance 2 for $4.99.

Reed also created his own grade reporting app, which is available on the Apple App store for $14.99, named GradeA.

He moved on to making his own virtual whiteboard app shortly after the iPad and Apple Pencil came out. Notability, Goodnotes, and all the other apps just didn’t have the features he was looking for. 

Dr. David Reed. Photo submitted by David Reed.

Reed said, “The big thing that I like is that I can go back and step through it and kind of show it step by step in the class. None of them seemed designed for that. Being a computer science guy, I’m like, well, if the app doesn’t exist that I want, let’s write it.” 

Jeremy Kemery, a computer science major who he had in his iOS course, had an iPad and talked to Reed about development on it. They applied for the Summer Scholars project and developed the app that he uses today with that student.

They worked on it for a little over 10 weeks, and then continued working on it for a while after Summer Scholars. He still makes updates and adds features when he can. However, it is not always easy. 

“It’s hard when you work on things a little bit here and there. It’s obviously not a full-time job for me, right? This is my full-time job, teaching,” Reed said. “If I had to add up the hours and take a guess, I would guess it was probably, at this point, six to nine months of full-time work, but spread out over five years.” 

Kemery would go on to graduate in 2017 and continue on to graduate school. He just recently started a job working at Apple. 

That app they worked on is available on the Apple App Store for $4.99 under the name reDraw Whiteboard. 

Many professors have their own simple setups for their gradebook, or otherwise any of these apps would be a nice replacement. 

Reed has offered professors promo codes for his apps in the past and mentioned that he would be happy to do a workshop on them, given people were interested. 

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