People with Crohn's, Celiac, and other diseases that impose heavy dietary restrictions face a great challenge when faced with the challenge of going out to eat. The prospect can be a source of great anxiety, especially when many food ingredients can make you ill or potentially even cause fatal complications if you're not careful. CJ, a member of the team, was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease early this past summer, and suffered near-fatal complications from a Cdiff infection affecting her diet. As a result, she only cooked all of her meals at home, in fear of another trip to the emergency room. During this time, she felt disconnected from her friends, who would invite her out to eat, knowing she more than likely could not participate. So! We sought out to make an app to remedy this situation for herself, and many others with dietary restrictions, severe, elective, or otherwise!

What it does

LookBook, is responsive, universal web app for Android, iOS, and desktop that uses the current location and dietary restrictions of the user, and gives them a detailed map with eating establishments that have things on their menu that the user can eat with their restrictions! The app uses public data from restaurants and chains to compile it list of restaurants, but also utilizes crowd sourcing to allow other users with the same dietary restrictions to be a part of a community that is constantly working towards making their community more open for those just wanting to grab a bite to eat and not run the risk of being ill. The UI, among other great things for its users, is responsive, intuitive, and easy to use, with the option to filter through different restriction on the fly -- be it Crohn's, Celiac Disease, Vegan, and beyond! Users can compile a favorites list of their favorite "Looks" (diet-friendly restaurant finds), and easily come back to them later. Additionally, do the open, crowd sourcing nature of the app, users aren't just restricted to diet-safe menu items as they appear. If modifications can be made to already-existing menu items to make them fit one's dietary restrictions, a user can add it to a list of Looks, with comments as to what modifications need to be done to the menu item to make it safe.

How we built it

In order to make the app as universal as possible, we needed to make it a universal web app that could be placed inside a wrapper to be usable on other deices and operating systems. To do so, the app was made using HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript as the backbone of project. From there, we used ruby to add an scss and sass gem that would allow animations, transitions, and dependencies to be displayed the same across all platforms, regardless of screen size, resolution, or the operating system being used to drive the app. The map component that uses the user's current location is powered by the Google Maps API, and was the true test to see if our app was truly universal. When placed in our project wrapper, the map, like the rest of the app, scales with the size of the screen it is being displayed on, being perfectly visible no matter what. As for the back-end, the database containing a list of restaurants and their menus is hosted using Amazon Web Services to store this information collected from open sources, as well as store all the forms submitted by users to add to restaurant profiles.

Challenges we ran into

Perhaps the biggest challenge we ran into was trying to make the app truly universal, meaning it had to work right no matter what we put it on. Making the app and using the Google API which we'd never used before was hard enough, as finding an appropriate, credible source to find restaurant information. But prototyping the experience to work for everyone was perhaps the most arduous part of the process. This app is something that's supposed to make people's lives easier, and henceforth, we vowed that everyone should be able to use it.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We made a working app that can help ease the lives of people with severe dietary restrictions. It's something we'll use and tell our community about, because we genuinely believe in the work we did to make help people in need.In addition, the app is truly open, using any data available to the user, and beyond.

What we learned

A great deal about user-centric and universal/responsive design when making web apps as well as how to make an effort for civic betterment in our community.

What's next for LookBook

We'll continue to work on it, when we have time, and release the app to the public. It will be free when we do, we want as many people to benefit from it as possible.

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