UC Davis alumnus develops DavisWiki app

In an effort to make it easier to find locations and geographical references in the Davis area, Keyan Kousha, a 2012 graduate of UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, developed a DavisWiki iPhone app. As a nonprofit, location-based wiki, the app depends on its users to share, add and edit locations.
“The app is absolutely incredible, the amount of information that it gives is fantastic. The specific details … [make] navigating the campus as a freshman who’s really not that familiar with it yet much, much easier,” said Alex Parella, a first-year computer science major.
Kousha was getting sick of having to use DavisWiki at home and was having trouble finding information about local businesses and buildings’ open hours and days, their history and other details.
DavisWiki is a community wiki for the city of Davis. Users can edit and add information about the local area.
“It made a lot of sense, so then it clicked. Someone else wasn’t going to develop it, so I did,” Kousha said.
Kousha started developing the app in Winter 2011 with the help of the classes that he took as a computer science major, as well as with assistance from UC Davis professionals.
One of the professors Kousha approached was Prem Devanbu, a software engineering professor in the UC Davis department of computer science.

“They [students] come bounce ideas off of me … [and] draw in my experience,” Devanbu said.

Devanbu believed that it is important for undergraduate students to make their own applications and to be able to understand programming. He does not single out just computer science majors, but believes that all majors should know how to program.
“I am very passionate about this; I think every graduated UC Davis student should be able to do this [programming] — you should know something about English, writing, math and programming,” Devanbu said. “These days a lot of analysis uses computers. We are trying to make a freshmen seminar about programming, a course which is required for everybody, so that everyone will have an idea of programming.”
Additionally, Kousha believed his undergraduate training taught him the fundamentals and theory of how to develop such an app but he still needed to teach himself a lot of the technology, such as temporal databases, REST web services and iOS development.

Temporal databases contain a built-in time aspect, while REST web services are one of the leading design models for the World Wide Web. iOS development refers to developing apps for Apple’s operating system.

Kousha said he values his computer science major experience and believes that it will be important for his future dreams.

“Without computer science I would probably be unable to do something like this or at least at the pace I ended up doing it. I think I did some of it well. I don’t think I would have built such a robust application without my past experience,” Kousha said.
Since the app is a location-based wiki and depends solely on the users to update and add locations, Kousha is depending heavily on the amount of users to expand the app.

By only advertising on the UC Davis Computer Science Club’s Facebook page, the app has had reached about 700 downloads. Kousha is hoping that the number of downloads will increase to make the app more pertainable and effective for the entire student and Davis population.

“There are very few cities like Davis; it is very unique. Kind of like truffles, it is rare to find … [there are] a lot of things to do, a disproportional amount of young and progressive [people] which allows DavisWiki to work,” Kousha said.

KAMILA KUDELSKA can be reached at city@theaggie.org.