The Thesis Diaries

The Thesis Diaries | Abstract & Introduction

The Thesis Diaries | Programmatically Building an iOS Application from Scratch | Mimi Chenyao | Fake & Basic

Back in October, I announced that I would be blogging about my thesis, and talking about the day-to-day process along the way.

(Here’s the background and basic gist of my thesis. I’m building Catch, an iOS app that is a Tinder for femme clothes trading, and writing about the design and architecture decisions I made during development. More on Catch’s specs later.)

A few things have changed since then. Here are some updates:

I broke up with my Economics major 🙁

I decided to drop my Computer Science and Economics double major down to a Computer Science major and Economics minor, so that I could focus on other projects during my fourth year of college. I had taken all the required classes to graduate, but at my school, a thesis or project in the desired major is mandatory in order to get the degree. Early last semester, I was told that doing product research and iteratively coming up with a startup business model for my app wouldn’t be enough to satisfy requirements for an Econ thesis.

Economics was my first academic love, and while it sucked to have to give up my double major, doing so allowed me to intern in San Francisco and do a bunch of other cool things I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

My thesis is all about app-building now

Since my thesis is now a purely computer science one, I’ve decided to focus on the software engineering aspect of it and create a minimum viable product (MVP) of my app that will testable and demo-able by the time I defend my thesis in late April. An MVP contains only the essential features; it was quite the exercise to take a knife to my project and cut out the parts that weren’t necessary. I decided that I won’t be publishing my app in the App Store until the thesis is over — Catch has features such as real-time chat, the ability for users to upload pictures and item descriptions of their own, and trading, all of which involve some legal stuff that is outside the scope of what I’m trying to accomplish (how can one block users? What can’t be posted as an item? How does the app deal with those who break the rules?). By keeping my shit simple and not having grand illusions of what I can accomplish in two months’ time, I’m minimizing a lot of stress.


The Thesis Diaries | It’s a Catch!

The Thesis Diaries | Programmatically Building an iOS Application from Scratch | Mimi Chenyao | Fake & Basic

I wear a lot of dresses.

Most of them are the result of me spending an obscene amount of time on online secondhand-shopping apps such as Vinted, Poshmark, Ebay, and Mercari throughout my college career.

I first became hooked on Vinted because it advertised that users could trade clothing if they didn’t feel like spending money. Freshman-year me was strapped for cash but still a shopaholic, and during my first semester of college I both sent and received so many packages that the mail staff knew me by name by the end of the first week. #GoodTimes

There’s a special feeling that comes when you trade clothing with someone. Because there’s no actual money involved, it’s a more accessible form of acquiring a new wardrobe; the only factor is a mutual consensus from all parties involved. You also make instant connections with others through your mutual love of clothing — yeah, that dress is really pretty! I’ll give you this shirt for it.

It got me thinking. Although I’ve made many cool trades on these established platforms, selling for money is still the primary method of transaction. What if there were an app whose main focus was on trading, and trading only?