Midpeninsula Post

Web App of The Titans: The story of Gunn’s schedule app

Roger Fan, Yu-Ting Chang and Kevin Yu. (Grace Gao)

Ever thought about how nice it’d be to access your school schedule, assignments, clubs, events, grades and other miscellaneous school information all in the same place — in light or dark mode — and on any device?

That’s what the creators of Gunn’s web app thought. The Web App of The Titans, abbreviated as WATT, is a student-made and student-run web app with sleek new modern design and free, high-quality tools for the Gunn student body. 

But the story of Gunn web apps doesn’t start there. 

Following a history of Gunn iOS apps, a series of modern Gunn web apps was first set into motion when then-freshman Sean Yen began building UGWA — the Unofficial Gunn Web App — in 2017. 

“Gunn, then, was using some iOS and Android app called ‘The Gunn App,’” the Gunn graduate said. “I didn’t have a phone back then — I only had a Chromebook — so I wanted to make the same app, but on my Chromebook.”

With prior experience creating miscellaneous small projects in middle school and help from Google, Yen built UGWA in a month. Upon its launch, the app quickly picked up momentum, gaining widespread visibility throughout the student body. Later, the app was further promoted through freshman orientations and a social media presence established by Yen and his friends. 

UGWA thrived during Yen’s time at Gunn; when he checked app analytics one day, there were over 500 concurrent users — meaning over 500 devices had the app open at the same time. But as his graduation approached, the future of UGWA came into question. 

“In my senior year, I said on the Gunn Discord server that I didn’t want to maintain the app,” Yen said. “I wanted to make it very clear that the app would be out of date [after I graduated.]” 

That’s when current juniors Kevin Yu and Yu-Ting Chang reached out to Yen about making another app to substitute UGWA. 

“The first time I talked to [Yen] was about creating the successor of UGWA,” Yu said. “Over the early COVID pandemic, we talked a lot on the Gunn Discord server. We got to know Sean and all the features that existed.”

The new Gunn app, built through a joint effort by Yu, Chang and eventually also sophomore Roger Fan, was kept under wraps for months before finally being released to students in the spring of 2021. While preserving UGWA’s features, WATT also introduced several new tools, including learning management system integration and a way for school clubs to log attendance.

Schoology integration had always been a long-term goal, according to Yu and Chang. Since the beginning of the project, they hoped to improve the learning management system by incorporating it with WATT and adding new functions — such as a way to search up course materials. Although Schoology integration proved to be more challenging than anticipated, the initiative was successful. 

Now, complete with LMS integration, a barcode generator, finals grade calculator and much more, WATT serves as an indispensable tool for the Gunn community. 

“The best part about [WATT] is it’s so convenient,” junior Brigitte Peterson said. “It’s just easy … I use the barcode scanner for the lunch line, I’ve used the map to show people where places are … and I’ve used it to keep track of what [events are] happening.” 

“[I use the app] to look at my schedule and see what periods I have, what periods I have next and how long they are,” freshman Matti Venkatraman said. “Also it has my student ID barcode on it, so I use [WATT] in the lunch line.”

For its creators, WATT provides not only a space for collaborative coding, but also an opportunity to dive deeper into computer science and explore areas outside the range of typical computer science classes offered at Gunn. 

“The CS classes at Gunn are good for teaching general concepts,” Yu said. “But beyond that, you want to go deeper and start learning on your own.”

“For me, the best way to learn CS is just by doing projects,” Fan said.  

In addition to providing services for the student community, Yu, Chang and Fan hope that WATT will aid students as computer science interest grows and more Gunn students embark on their own computer science projects. 

“I hope [WATT] makes people’s lives easier, for one,” Yu said. “I also hope it inspires people to either learn coding or at least look into making their own projects like this. I hope it can be a tool to help people — whether that is teaching them, or just helping them.”

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