We were inspired by our own lives, as well as what some of our friends have said. We came up with an idea to help people, specifically students, connect with each other. By connecting, we can allow for students to grow academically. They can learn more about the topics they love and gain new insights. This also promotes collaboration in a safe environment. Students can collaborate to receive feedback, especially on projects / essays that they are struggling on. It can also be used as an inspiration source to help start a big assignment.
What it does
Our project allows for students to connect with each other, learn from each other, and grow as a result of it. The student, after creating an account, may use the site to look at a specific topic and gain inspiration, gain feedback, or also get help. This is a site where students can obtain new insights - perspectives which they hadn't thought about nor heard about before. This is a way, we believe, where students can grow academically. Some of this idea was structured after talking to a friend, who mentioned that getting people to give feedback on essays helped him, (and will in the future) significantly. Along with this, the project idea we had in mind at the start of the hackathon was a website that could also help students communicate with each other and offer different services like tutoring etc.
You can learn more at: Our Work
You can look at scenarios we came up with at: Scenarios
How we built it
We built this primarily using repl.it. Shivani & Evan put all the HTML / CSS code directly into repl.it and was coding in repl.it the entire time. Shivani eventually split the code into 2 different repl.it, one for the hackathon website and one for the project website. The project website can be accessed directly from the hackathon website on the “project for action” page.
Mark however, for easier access / running speed, started by coding the database (backend) for our project directly on his laptop, using a text editor. He used PHP to do this. He then, after completion, (attempted) to upload his code to repl.it and integrate, although this posed some issues. Because of this, an unfortunate situation where we were unable to link the HTML and PHP occurred.
Challenges we ran into
We ran into multiple challenges. First, we had to get the project site nested into the hackathon site, and Shivani had to move some files over (which caused some issues, but was later resolved). We also ran into some issues integrating the backend (the database) with the frontend. Mark originally coded all of his work using PHP on his own device, only later we found our collaboration site wasn’t allowing us to integrate the PHP. We regret deeply that we could not get this final part to work nicely.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud of many accomplishments. In the past, when we have worked together at school and else-wise for other projects, we couldn’t even get the backend into the project site nor create the project site, leaving us having to use a video to show it as a replacement. This time however, we did find a way to get the project page up, and to get the page to be set up. We also finished creating the database. However, we weren’t able to get past the last step. This is due to repl.it having some issues with running PHP and we weren’t able to integrate it fully.
What we learned
We learned a variety of things, each of us a little different. Shivani: I learned how to create forms using CSS and HTML and I also learned a little PHP to look at Mark’s code. I also found a way to create two websites and to link them together nicely in order to keep them separate but linked in a way. As a person who primarily works with Java and hasn’t worked with front-end for a while, there was a bit of a challenge, however some of those issues were quickly resolved.
Mark: I learned how to create a database using PHP. Before this, I really only focused on creating databases and working with backend using python. It was hard, as my primary languages are python and C/C++. Although I had a general idea of what I was doing, there was still some learning involved. Integrating the PHP database and getting it to link with the project website proved to have some issues, however, and allowed for some learning there as well.
Evan: I learned some CSS and how to style. As a person who codes primarily in python, it was a bit hard to learn a new language. However, after doing some learning and looking at Shivani’s code, I took it upon myself to do some styling on the project site. I also helped my teammates out with gathering ideas and laying it out.
What's next for Connexions
Our project, while rough around the edges, is something that each of us hope to continue working on. The biggest challenge that we faced was being able to integrate the two main parts of our project, the frontend and the backend. We want to be able to finish integrating the database with our project site. After doing this, we want to share this project with people and start using it! We want to start by sharing it with our friends, then gradually having this idea and our work spread.