"One of the rarest things that a man ever does, is to do the best he can."
- Josh Billings

Hokie Textbooks

Home page of the Hokie Textbooks site Focus on the header of the site Focus on the content area of the home page Sample outbook of a book

The Problem

For those of you that are Hokies, you may not fully understand the problem. The problem is that there was no easy way to find out what books were required for your next semester. To find the books, you had to go to the university's bookstore website, select the term you want, the department, the course, and then the section. You had to do this process for each course you take. However, many professors don't get their book orders in until the week before classes start. Many times, a student wouldn't know if the order had been placed, or simply updated.

The Solution

I built a website that aggregates all the data, and allows you to just simply enter the CRNs (Course Request Numbers). The site brings back all of the books that you need. If the order hasn't been placed yet, you have the ability to register on the site, and get updates whenever they come. For example, if you signed up for a Calculus class, and no books appeared, you could "follow" the course, and when your book is added, you get an email!

What else?

The site also gathers prices for various bookstores, including three local bookstores - the University Bookstore, VT Bookstore, and Bookholders. I also have Amazon on there, which tends to be the lowest price. So, students can also save money using the site!

What web design features are there?

The site uses AJAX to handle all requests on the site, including log-in, registration, and book requests. The site also has a backend to it, that runs on a cronjob, that handles all of the updating of the databases. Typically, any new books are found within 10 hours of being posted, allowing for emails to be sent quickly. Also, prices are updated about once a day, all done using a PHP script.