My entire family are members of the Asamai Hindu Association. My grandfather, who is a head of the organization, observed that is was very difficult to collect emails for the organizations eNewsletter and asked me to develop an app that could be used on an iPad to collect emails of the various members who attended the events. The app had to be very easy to use and allowed the administrators of the organization to easily manage the contact information.

What it does

The app is downloaded on an iPad, where the user verifies that a valid organization is using the app. If there are multiple locations of the organization, the user can also enter in their specific location to organize the database later on. After verification, the user is brought to an enter contact page, where people can easily enter in their contact information (name, email, address, phone number). The contact information is saved locally and and saved to a Google Firebase realtime database. The admins can also access the locally saved copy of the contact data to edit information and export it as a .csv file.

How I built it

I used Swift in Xcode to write the app. I used built in packages in Xcode to enable automated emails, network capabilities, and phone number and email verification. I also used Cocoa Pods to install the Google Firebase pod. Using this, I was able to implement function to connect and write to the realtime database where the contact information was saved.

Challenges I ran into

Integrating Google Firebase was challenging at first. It took me a while to correctly install the Firebase pod to the app and to figure out the exact path I should be writing the data to. Another challenge I ran in to was saving the contacts when network connection was offline. Because I also saved the contacts locally, however, I was able to alert the app when a contact was not loaded to the database due to network and load all of these contacts when network connection was back online.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Although the app is relatively simple, I am proud that I am able to help out the Asamai Hindu Association. The organization is very important to my community and family, and it meant a lot that I could help them by using my passion for app development.

What I learned

While I was fairly experienced in base app development, I learned how to integrate a Google Firebase database into an Xcode/Swift app. By learning how to easily read and write to the database, it will allow me to add backend capabilities to my future apps. This is my first app that I released on the app store, so I also learned how to find a good name, develop a simple and fitting icon, and finally publish the app so the world can use it!

What's next for Contact Bridge

I plan on visiting the Asamai temple in Virginia soon to help set up the station to start collecting members' contact information. Along with this, I also want to scale the app to other organizations. Churches, other Asamai temples, and even entertainment show directors have reached out to me to use the app and I would love to work with them to integrate the app in their organizations.

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