The type of things that I do: Edly 1.0

Proudly releasing Edly Beta

I’ve always been wondering why the district is still using Edline.

Let’s look back into it’s history:

According to Wikipedia, Edline was launched independently in May 15, 1997. That was almost 20 years ago, which perfectly explained why their code looks like spaghetti. But interestingly, back then Edline used to be such a popular product that, according to their website, was used in all 50 states.

Then what happened?

Edline was acquired by Blackboard in 2011, then got rebranded into Blackboard Engage. That’s the end of the story for Edline.

But wait… Popular products will never be forgotten by people. Think about Windows XP, how it was still astonishingly active even after the release of Windows 10. Edline was not abandoned, and thousands of school districts that purchased the product refused to switch to other products.

We all know the disadvantages of outdated software — the lack of security, efficiency and data safety will never get fixed. Hope I don’t need to explain all that again.

Aside from the product itself, students and teachers also seemed to be dissatisfied with the product.

Aah edline made me wanna cry so bad.We finally switched to schoology this year which is a little better… I mean it was a step up from edline

– Dalton Craven, Hack Club member

OK, that’s from a student’s perspective. But personally I’ve heard one of my teachers say “Edline is a bad tool.” It was pretty clear that it is something that everyone didn’t like.

So what’s the problem?

1. 2000s design style

Although the product was acquired in 2012, which meant that it was supposed to be receiving updates before that, the design of the website still remained in the early 2000s. No widescreen support, high contrast color schemes, unnecessary gradients and all those fluff, were definitely on the wrong side of the Pacific comparing to the modern minimalistic designing trend.

2. Slow, laggy, inefficient

We were definitly expecting things to run a little bit smoother. But even scrolling on Edline will result in a high memory use, thus caused the lag. By inspecting the source code, we can see that the entire canvas was getting redrawn on every single mouse movement. No wonder why it lags…

3. Poor mobile support

How Edline displays student scores in frames was almost a joke to everyone. People knew how funky it looked on mobile devices… and there were no officially supported mobile apps. Though third-party mobile apps like Edline Helper had gained some success, the fact that it runs terribly on mobile devices (or even computers, because of that frame) could never be changed.

Whoa. Way off topic.

Edly started with a thought: what if I can make Edline look better? I can’t guarantee absolutely no pain while using it, but why can’t I reduce that pain?

So here we go. While developing Edly, I mainly focused on three goals: cleaner design, efficiency, and universal. The first two I already explained. By universal, I want the extension app to be available for all victims of Edline, regardless of school — some schools may alter the designs a little bit, so it was harder for me to do.

Edly gave the 20-year-old Edline a brand new Material Design look. Unfortunately, since my access level to your browser is limited, I cannot fully materialize the page, but I tried my best to implement most of it. Shadows, effects, borders, I tried to apply the design to every single visible element on the screen. Everything will work the same way, it’s just better.

Edly made Edline up to 3x faster. I recorded the loading speed with Google Developer Tools for Chrome and turns out that the loading speed of Edline increased by 300% after enabling Edly. Smoothness wise, on my computer, it used to run at a max fps of 20 and an average fps of 12.3, but now it can go as high as 49fps with an average of 25.4fps. That was a huge step forward.

Edline seems to run a little bit faster with this on. It also looks nice.

– Daniel Zhu, High School Student

That’s… basically everything about Edly.


1. What data do I collect from users?

None. Let me say this again, none. I’ll be collecting absolutely no data for my development use. All data collected were ran by Google — I tried to disable every single tracking script on every single page.

Scores? Nah. Why would I want to see your scores anyway? To show how good I am? Jkjk.

2. Will I be running ads?

No. Seems like there are a lot of ways that I can earn money from this project, but as a great developer I don’t really care about revenue. Also, since this is supposed to be an education targeted software, I’ll never be running ads on the extension.

3. Can I contribute?

Absolutely. By clicking the icon on your Chrome toolbar, you’ll be able to directly submit feedback to me. Any idea would be helpful. Better if you can offer an algorithm.

4. Is it… open source?

No. I’ll not be publishing the source code, at least for now.

Special thanks to Eshaan Moorjani and Shrikar Vasisht for helping out during prototyping.

Oh, the title… You may think I’m always doing random and useless and whatever things.


And that’s the type of things that I do.


4/5/2017 Midnight