Music lovers attending the Kalamazoo Blues Fest, July 10-12 at the Arcadia Festival Site, have a new way to plan their festival experience thanks to an app created by two Western Michigan University
Adam Nolan of Kalamazoo and John Cook of St. Joseph worked for about two months developing the app at the request of the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association
The app was created for the festival and though it is specifically designed with information for the 2014 festival it can be modified to be used in years to come.
The app features full band bios, photos, lineup information such as date and time playing, as well as information on the artist workshops that will be available throughout the festival. Nolan says one of his favorite parts of the app is the Google maps. "It zooms into the festival site and has markers for each of the stages, the beer tent, main entrance, restrooms, and the exit. It even shows where you are in relation to the festival site," Nolan says.
Ticket information, including a link to the fest's Vendini page and a sponsors page with logos that are clickable and that will take users to the web page for each sponsor are all featured. Nolan is happy they were able to have the web browser embedded within the app making it easier for people to use than apps that call for a default browser.
As they began work on the app, they looked at apps from other festivals for inspiration. Nolan says once he found the attributes that made the best apps he had to figure out how to include them. He quickly learned there are many ways to complete a task and many opioninos about the best way to get it done.
The duo used Eclipse, a free programming environment, to develop the app for the Android operating system. Because Android is open source development for it can be done free of charge.
Nolan, a computer information systems major, and Cook, an ebiz marketing major who graduated in December were students of Dr. Alan Rea, WMU professor of business information systems, and took Rea's classes in business mobile programming and mobile commerce. There were many lessons learned along the way to finishing the app, which has been in the Google Play store
Coding and programming can be tedious and Nolan found when problems arose it always helped to take a step back. Solutions "tend to come a the most random times, like when you are laying in bed after just waking up, or just doing something that has absolutely nothing to do with programming and coding," he says.
Now that Cook and Nolan have created the framework for an app that can be adapted for other festivals they hope to add some features and market the app to firms that put on festivals each year.
"It's something we see an a need and an opportunity," Nolan says. "It would be nice to see this be more than just a one-time thing."
"This is exactly what I want them to do, once they have the skills, is to either start their own business or build apps like this for others," says Rea.
The true test will come this weekend at the festival, but already the reviews of the app are positive. As one user put it: "Cool. Didn't expect such a high quality app for such a local event."
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Sources: Adam Nolan, Mark Schwerin, Western Michigan University