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Agoda YCS app – when two non-mobile developers had to build a mobile app

By ByungChul Kim and Jaruyot Trithipakij - Published on Mar 25. 2020

Many people may know the Agoda app as a platform for travelers to book accommodation and flights. But that is not the only app in our tech team’s portfolio. On the partner side, we have developed the YCS app for our accommodation partners to manage their inventories on Agoda as well. Despite being lesser known, the YCS app plays an important role in Agoda’s business as we aspire to equip our partners with the best tools. With relevant data and effective tools, our partners can understand and optimize their performance. The app has become our partners’ companion in helping them to achieve their goals, whether it’s through price comparison or suitable promotion suggestions.

Here, our Software Engineers, Byung Chul and Jaruyot, take you through the journey of building Agoda’s YCS mobile app.

The Tech

We started developing the app in the third quarter of 2017, when people started to spend less time on their computers and more time on their mobile devices. Having YCS as an app would allow our partners to manage their accommodations on the go. Just like other projects at Agoda, we applied the think big, start small philosophy. Though we have the resources of a big company, we have the mentality of a startup and started off the project with only us two developers.

At that stage, we decided to go for efficiency, and the choice of technology fell on React Native, mainly because we’d be able to get started with minimal time and effort. What attracted us the most was that we could basically write only one code base for both Android and iOS. Once the first prototype was up and running, it was amazing to see the same code running perfectly on both platforms.

Aside from the cross-platform benefits of React Native, it also has a vast open source community with many open source components and libraries, including some libraries commonly used in web development projects. There was a time when we were building the calendar UI and React Native didn’t have a component we needed. So we downloaded a source code and added our own features. In turn, this was also the opportunity for us to contribute back to the community with some of the features that we built.

No doubt React Native helped us to move fast with little investment, which was the core philosophy of this project. It saved us about 40% of development time compared to developing native apps on both Android and iOS. Considering neither of us had any prior experience of mobile development and very little experience of javascript, we definitely made the right technology decision. In the end, it took us just two months to launch a minimum viable product (MVP) to release in both the App Store and Google Play.

The People

Our success did not come from the technology alone, but even more from the culture and work environment at Agoda. We move fast and take ownership of our initiatives. By implementing experiments in the real environment, we know which features are most impactful, and this helps us to make the right decisions quickly. As a scrum team, we try to automate everything, including testing, packaging and deployment.

We also work closely with the UX designers and product owner. Throughout the process, we constantly give and get feedback, and make improvement as early as possible. Everyone is free to share ideas about how to both improve the product and how to work more effectively together. This project reflects in many ways how we work at Agoda.

The experience from this project has taught us that we can build a product outside of our comfort zones even though our technical backgrounds did not exactly match the job. What is more important is the willingness to take ownership, your passion for technology, your eagerness to learn and having an open mind. If you are excited about learning new technology and working with amazing people from all around the world, Agoda is the perfect place for you.

Byung Chul Kim and Jaruyot Trithipakij are Software Engineers at Agoda. Join them in the Tech team at Agoda.

Read more about the YCS app in other episode of the Product Triangle Series
Design: YCS: Designing the Performance and Insights Feed


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