Social distancing and quarantine measures that are currently in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in widespread social isolation and pose a significant detriment to people's mental health. During this time, many individuals without a social media account don't have the means to make new friends! Keeping those individuals in mind, we wanted to create a site that allows people to meet and talk to new people over video call on Zoom. We hope to improve connectivity through the internet with this website!

What it does

CovPals is a web application that allows users to meet a new friend online by allowing them to schedule meetings during the current week at a certain time slot. If 2 individuals book a call during the same time slot, they will be matched and notified via email and receive a zoom link 1 hour before the booked time.

How we built it

To develop the frontend, we used React to render our views and handle inputting our form data. On the backend, Express and Nodejs were used for the web-server and a MongoDB Atlas Database is being used to store user information needed to find matches and schedule meetings. We utilized the Mailgun API to give our server the ability to automatically send emails to participants, and notify them of their matches. Additionally, we leveraged the Zoom API to generate weekly meeting links for each matched pair of users.

Challenges we ran into

We ran into some issues while developing the backend as most of us had no experience with backend frameworks, so a lot of time was spent figuring them out. Additionally, we experienced some unexpected behaviour involving javascript promises and the asynchronous paradigm in javascript as a result of us needing to make API calls. This was also the first time we worked with the libraries and APIs used in this project, so getting accustomed to them in a timely manner was challenging.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're proud to have learned so much in 2 days and create a user-friendly web application that is easily accessible to the public.

What we learned

This was the first time most of our group members worked with Express and MongoDB as well as the APIs offered by Mailgun and Zoom. Most of us have also never worked with databases so learning how to make queries and mutating data was also a new learning experience. On the frontend, this was the first time any of us had used Material-UI.

What's next for CovPals

We want to create more input forms asking the user some personal questions and use that information to match them with others within the same age group with similar interests. This is so that they start the conversation easily by talking about what they have in common! We also want to add an interactive chatbot that will prompt the user with questions rather than just filling out a form. This is so that the user feels more welcomed. Lastly, we wanted to add some uplifting quotes and happy GIFs to the site to help make people happier!

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