URBAN Teens eXploring Technology Blog
Teens inform and inspire community through Facebook app built on Shortstack during URBAN TxT coding academy

URBAN TxT, a 15 week computer programming academy program, is a challenging, fast paced program. The strong  and determined make it out until the end and learn throughout the whole way. My group and I created the Facebook app Plus Articles in less than 10 weeks using a platform called Shortstack. 

We built Plus Articles because we realized teens were not learning positive news about their community through social media. After working with the leadership team at URBAN TxT, we realized building an app for a social network was the way to go. After doing surveys and market research, we learned that most teens in South Los Angeles use Facebook, which is why Shortstack was the right fit for our project.

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“I was a little intimated when we started because I had never used Shortstack,” said Agusto, 16, lead developer for the group. “After playing around on it for a little bit I figured out what I needed to do, and along the way how I needed to do it.”

Our app not only shares positive news about our community, but it also allows teens to write up their own. “It was important for us that our target demographic, teens in South Los Angeles, could be part of the process,” said Maliik, 16, project manager for Plus Articles. 

We loved working on Shortstack because it’s mostly widget based and if you put the time and effort into it, any one can create an app. Agusto is a coder, he has been in URBAN TxT for three years, so his knowledge of coding worked really well with Shortstack’s easy to use platform. 

“Plus Articles also lets users share and comment on individual articles. Our next step is figuring out a way for users to be able to “Like” the individual posts,” explained Jonathan, 13, user experience designer for the group. “I love our app, you can use it on a computer, phone, and tablet,” added the young designer. 

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Along the way we overcome many challenges and grew stronger as brothers. Watching people use our app and write articles about their community makes us feel accomplished and like all the hard work that we put in was worth it. 

Ultimately, all our time and effort towards this site lead up to Demo Day. It was a competitive event held at USC that determined which three of the eight URBAN TxT  teams would travel to Google headquarters and get a better chance to grow and develop their product. 

The Plus Articles team had to present our product to a panel of judges from the tech and business worlds. There were also some very special guests, like City Councilman Curren Price and representatives from Microsoft and Yahoo. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but it was an amazing experience to show off our product and to let people know we are making something that will help build a better community. 

My team and I have discussed future plans for our Facebook App. Although Demo Day did not go in our favor we want to continue increasing the number of students that use our application and also start the 10 month process to become part of the Facebook App store. 

One great quote that sums up some of what we learned at URBAN TxT and by our experience working on Shortack is “a stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping stone to the optimist.” We are excited to continue working, learning, and growing as TxT’ers while making a difference in our community.

Blog written by Luis O., first-year TxT’er and project manager for his group. URBAN TxT is a nonprofit organization setting the tech world on fire by inspiring teens to become tech entrepreneurs.Through coding, teens in URBAN TxT learn business development, leadership, and public speaking. To learn more about URBAN TxT visit www.urbantxt.com. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanSVas and URBAN TxT at @URBANTxT.