UWAlk – Your University in Your Pocket

Chris McDonald, Gareth Davies, and Ahmed Khalaf, University of Western Australia

Audience: Beginner/Intermediate iOS Developer


This presentation discusses and reflects on the design and development of UWAlk, our native iPhone application to assist new students and on-campus visitors to locate buildings, people, and events at The University of Western Australia.  Our project emerged from a coursework assignment at UWA, grew through an Honours and a Masters student projects, and has become a university supported tool.

The goal of our application is to deliver most required information on-the-run, within 30 seconds, which often precludes the acquisition of a WiFi connection.  As our Objective-C development proceeded, our small team focused on two important aspects – the development of a framework to consistently support an “unlimited” number of modules, and the correct representation and location of both the application’s static and dynamic data.

To overcome some limitations of iOS, we have developed our own tiled mapping interface, providing zooming and panning, configurable pins and callouts.  Integral to our mapping is our route-planner, which determines and displays routes between a user’s current location and their next lecture, meeting, or any point on campus, door-to-door, honouring requests for the route to be maximally undercover, well-lit, or wheelchair accessible. Our mapping and route-planner are accessible from any module, such as timetabling and the staff directory.

This presentation will reflect on which iOS features worked well for our project, and which introduced challenges that we had to work around.

Speaker Bio:

Chris currently holds the appointments of associate professor in the School of Computer Science & Software Engineering at The University of Western Australia and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.

He has recently taught in the areas of computer networking; security & privacy; mobile & wireless computing (which includes projects in iPhone development); software design & implementation; and operating systems at The University of Western Australia and Dartmouth College. Together with these areas, his research interests include wireless, ad-hoc, & mobile networking; network simulation; and programming language implementation.

His technical expertise includes developing with and teaching Unix for 25+ years, 15+ years with Linux, 8 years with OS-X, and 3 years with iOS, with continued (almost daily) application of C, Objective-C, and scripting languages, specific to networking, security, and language implementation (i.e. not your average academic).

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