Inspiration

We thought link sharing could be done more effectively than TinyURL or bitly. 90% of information absorbed by the human brain is visual, so we thought it was only natural to associate links to images rather than complex character strings. Furthermore, instead of having to type it out, the user could just quickly click through 3 sets of choices (namely, an animal, a color, and a background). Now instead of an unwieldy link, you can embed a cute picture of the animal-color-background combo that allows everyone to remember and easily go to the site of your choice.

What it does

Our fully functional website hosted on threepics.com allows you to cleanly do one of two things: (1) generate a unique animal-color-background combo for your link or (2) access a link by clicking the appropriate combination. After generating a link, the combination will be mapped to it for a default of three days until it is freed up to be used for other links.

How we built it

The backend is built with PHP and MySQL. PHP handles the http requests and updates the MySQL database with combo-link pairings. The frontend uses HTML, CSS, and JS (JQuery) to render the website and communicate with the server using AJAX requests.

Challenges we ran into

One challenge was designing the algorithm to efficiently return a unique combo that wasn't already in use by the database. Our solution was to sort the existing database, sort the set of possible combinations, and then step through both in a single loop to generate the symmetric difference of the sets, finally drawing a random element from this array of available combinations.

What we learned

Making a full-stack web application is hard work, but very rewarding in the end.

What's next for Three Picture Links?

We hope to automatically get the user's location and add it to the combination so that we can scale without users having to make more choices/remember more things.

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