With the pandemic shutting down our lives, many Ontarians started becoming more politically active, learned more about local issues, and wanted to make a change. The Mongo team are no different, we wanted our voices to be heard, but we didn't know who to reach out to, how to reach out to them, or even what to say. And if we are being honest, we were too lazy to actually search up the answers to each of those questions. This issue came up again when we recently heard about the destruction of the West Credit trout streams, and decided to focus our MasseyHacks project on helping young Ontarians like us make a change.
What it does
Mongo essentially finds a user's political riding, drafts an email to the corresponding MPP, the politician in charge of provincial matters such as deforestation, with a pre-written template on what to say, with space for you to fill in the gaps. After you are done and hit send email, it opens the email on your default app, and it is ready to send! A process that might take much longer is simplified to just a few seconds.
How we built it
The main parts of the program are the Excel data, the JavaMail API, and Java Swing GUI. We processed the data in excel, programmed a function with using the JavaMail API to automatically open the Mail app with a draft email containing the recipient, subject, and body. Everything is tied together with an interface built using Java Swing.
Challenges we ran into
As beginner programmers, we weren't even sure where to start our project. We spent so long trying to figure out how to code this as a website and connect our finicky domain to it, that we were left with less time to actually build the project. So, we decided to keep it simple as a Java app. Another issue was finding and formatting the data. We could not find all the pieces we needed, as the government has not made it available for the public, but the data we did find was unformatted. So it was a challenge to make it usable.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud of actually getting this done! We have never done a hackathon before.
What we learned
How to plan and prioritize tasks for a project in a given timeline, and how to use GitHub.
What's next for Mongo
We wish to make this program accessible outside of a native environment by making it into a website and building a database. Hopefully we can add features that enhance the user's experience, such as using address or postal code to find the riding. We also plan for Mongo to have more functions in the future, such as displaying the MP's other contact information or to add the ability to email multiple people.