Student app eases the frustration of online item exchange


Courtesy of Sean Baxley

Agora Exchange has attracted 250 users since it’s launch in the Apple Store on Sept. 17. The app developers hope to have a version ready for Androids soon.

Anastazia Vanisko, Director of Print

Third-year student Sean Baxley’s girlfriend was struggling to sell clothes on the Facebook page Free & For Sale, which inspired him to design an app free of the flaws he found in the Facebook page.

Baxley, a biochemistry major, went to his friend Justin Wang, a third-year computer science major, for help creating and coding his new app Agora Exchange, the app formerly known as AgoraX. With Wang’s friend and information systems major Travis Chambers, a student at Carnegie Mellon University, Baxley and Wang began development on Agora Exchange last November.

The main issue Baxley saw with Free & For Sale was the page’s organization. The items are listed in chronological order and students have to post multiple photos in one post. If students search for an item they must use general terms and may find items from months ago that the poster never took down.

The first version of Agora Exchange, though, wasn’t as user-friendly as Baxley and Wang had hoped.

“We actually had to redo the whole thing. We finished it in May and we realized the whole user interface was not intuitive enough,” said Wang.

They restarted their work that summer. With internships on opposite sides of the country, Baxley, Wang and Chambers used BitBucket—the equivalent of Google Docs for coding—to share their code privately among themselves. Their goal was to have the app up and running by the beginning of the school year.

After an estimated 600 hours of work, Agora Exchange was ready to go. Case Western Reserve University affiliates sign in with their CWRU email and are connected to other CWRU affiliated users, heightening the app’s security and sense of community.

“It was trippy…. It’s crazy, seeing all your hard work actually culminate into something like that, seeing Agora Technology Development, LLC, on there,” said Wang of the finished product.

The final product has a user-friendly, intuitive interface and is far more efficient than Free & For Sale. Each user has a profile, complete with his or her preferred meeting spot and an in-app messaging system similar to the iOS system. It allows users to see whether or not other users have read their messages. It also shows text bubble as people type their response. Baxley and Wang were particularly proud of this localized messaging feature.

Those who download the app can search for specific items, such as a specific edition of a textbook, and filter their search based on popularity or price range. Each post expires after 10 days.

With 250 users since it’s launch on Sept. 17 and at least one person posting an item for sale every other day, Baxley and Wang are already planning for the future of Agora Exchange. The app is currently only available for iPhones, but they hope to have a version ready for Androids soon.