As students ourselves, we know how difficult it can be to stay informed about what's going on in after-school groups or activities. Often times we're accidentally left out of mass group text messages, or we miss meetings and don't receive important information. We thought that there had to be an easier way to connect student group members with each other and decided to make it happen.
What It Does
On the Run is a convenient place for connecting group members with important information! It makes using phone numbers to connect with other members optional instead of mandatory with the use of registered accounts, keeps the group conversation in one easy location, and provides an easy way to send reminders about important dates and events.
How We Built It
We built On the Run using MIT App Inventor 2 components, as well as using several Google Fusion Tables which served as databases for sign-in information and logs of group conversation.
The user may create a new account by defining their username, password, and name. The information is stored in a private Google Fusion Table. After account creation, the user now has access to log in and enter into the group. We focus on keeping the interface aesthetically pleasing, fluid, and easy-to-use.
Challenges We Ran Into
We initially weren't sure how to configure the code to make the Google Fusion Table store entered names in our messaging feature, and the trial-and-error we experienced ate up a lot of our time, but researching correct index format helped speed this process along immensely.
Towards the end of coding, while we were testing for errors, we found that entering a username that did not exist in the database would bring up a Fusion Table querying error and shut down the entire app. We spent a lot of time contacting and asking questions to those who were more experienced with handling databases and successfully worked out the issue.
Accomplishments that We're Proud of
We're proud of how we pushed through our challenges and lack of prior experience by learning as we coded. We now have experience with Fusion Tables, App Inventor, and programming logic that we didn't possess before because of the difficulties we faced, and we now possess knowledge of methods that best work with log-in functionality when working in MIT App Inventor. We're proud of all the little wins, of creating an end-to-end functional product, and for successfully creating an app for the first time.
What We Learned
- How to index
- How to create successful registration and log-in functionality
- Configuring and storing information in Fusion Tables
- GUI layout
- Internal and external app design
- Presentation skills and soft skills
- Creating a product from start to finish
- Programming logic
- Managing/balancing time and keeping a development schedule
- Quicker brainstorming and implementation
- How to better research on developer forums when stuck and especially...
- Celebrating "small" successes
What's Next for On the Run
For the future of On the Run, we're going to focus on dividing groups into individual spaces with their specific information, creating in-depth group capabilities (silencing members, changing group information, assigning group roles such as admin/teacher/leader with specific privileges), and the opportunity for zip-code location for each individual group.
We plan to introduce several new features such as calendar integration (shared and private options), note-taking, agenda creation and display, and poll-voting to create an even greater use of the app. In future versions, we'll be fine-tuning the current features and adding more options. We'd also like to add features that expand the app to better serve and include after-school sport teams, so coaches can inform parents as well as student athletes of important events or occurrences.
We thank the Lenovo Scholar Network for providing us with the tools to create these apps, as well as all of our mentors and family, who gave us insight, feedback, and support whenever we needed it (sometimes really late) -- truly, you guys are awesome.