Bar-Tab was conceived, designed, and prototyped during the spring 2016 HackPSU hackathon by a team of 5 students from Penn State Harrisburg. We decided to accept the challenge presented by Vantiv, and started looking for improvement potentials that would be enhanced by the application of their payment processing API. The inspiration behind the manifestation of Bar-Tab mostly lies in revolutionizing the experience patrons receive while spending time in their favorite venues, primarily with respect to convenience and simplicity. The operation of this application consolidates the entire experience into one simple overview accessible by the customers at any point in time.
What it does
Bar-Tab would be a service offered to establishments with the objective of streamlining the entire encounter between a patron and their favorite bars or clubs. All users start by establishing their personal accounts on the application itself, and are from then on able to visit any of our partner locations with unprecedented ease. Tabs are opened by the newly arrived customer at the click of a button, and will remain open for the entirety of their stay. While customers still interact with the barkeeper for their drinks, the entire payment process will be completed electronically by this application while requiring interaction from the user only twice, once at the beginning and once at the very end of their presence.
How we built it
Our team built the application with both a front and a back end. Our front end consists of an iOs application and a web application. The mobile application initially communicates with our back-end servers and checks to see if the user has an ID within our database. If the user has never used the application before, a customer ID will be created for them in our database and they are then able to use the application at bars. Within our web application, the bartender can see all the open tabs at the moment and the user is then able to continue building their tab. Lastly, when the user decides close the tab, they can close it through the mobile application.
Challenges we ran into
At first we did not know how to set up correct correspondence between the API and our back-end, which led to a few hours being lost to wild goose chases of potential errors for a few team members. We also spent several hours establishing contact between our back-end server and our iOS application.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
As a team assembled of both fresh and intermediate level hackathon hackers, we had an unexpected level of correspondence and communication between all members. This lead to an efficient and uninterrupted workflow. We also ensured that all team members received assistance and mentoring from each other when needed to minimize the time spent on self-teaching (and hence, not on developing the application). We are also happy that we managed to implement many different parts of a full stack and establish a functional data-flow between all working parts.
What we learned
Our team members gained much experience in working with API's as well as an assortment of programming languages, as well as integrating different types of software with each other. Many of our members started out with little or no knowledge in some of these development areas and saw significant increases in productivity and general understanding throughout these 24 hours. We also gained insight into the atmosphere and setting encountered while working as one part of a team, which put a huge focus on observing how we, as individuals, could behave and act to the advantage and progression of everyone.
What's next for Bar-Tab
-Automated tipping preferences and user-set charge limits. -Instant user notifications when drinks are added to their tab. -Geolocation-based tab closure if customers travel too far away from the location. -Consolidated rating system of bars/clubs/etc. -Rename application to Bar-Tender