One of the major benefits of participating in the iXp program is the social aspect, especially getting to meet and interact with other interns. Usually, they would be able to meet others in the office whether it was during lunch time or during in-person intern events. Unfortunately, since everyone is working from home, this element of social interaction is limited. Steven from our team is an iXp intern and he’s finding it difficult to interact with colleagues. The rest of us go to school at BCIT and we're feeling the same way about losing the social aspect of school and so we recognize that this is an important issue that should be addressed.
What it does
This web app allows employees, not only interns, to connect with other employees that they would normally not be able to interact with. Once you sign-up, you can easily swipe right to connect with SAP employees and interns. If the person you swiped right on also swiped right for you, they will appear in your My Friends list and you can start to initiate a conversation with them via chat.
How I built it
We built SAP Connect using React, Node.js/Express, and Firebase. We used Firestore as our database, because it is easy to setup and use without designing schemas as well as being a part of Firebase ecosystem. We did user authentication with Firebase as well based on JWTs. Our react frontend was styled using the Material UI library.
Challenges I ran into
The time constraint was the biggest challenge. We had roughly 1.5 days to execute our vision of this application, and because we ran into bugs and other issues like merge conflicts, we did not quite get to implement all the features we had hoped to. Also, we decided to take the risk of playing around with some new technologies for this project, including Material UI and this was challenging because a portion of our time was spent watching videos about Material UI, reading the documentation and trial and error until we got it right.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
It was a team effort and the accomplishments we are most proud of is to be able to build something from beginning to end in as little as 2 days. We also challenged ourselves to explore technologies that we might not be comfortable with at first and ultimately overcame those challenges and produced a product that we can continue to work on after this hackathon ends.
What I learned
We learned that NoSQL might not be the best choice to use, as it proved more complex for getting filtered queries. It was also likely our inexperience using it so we spent a lot of time to get basic CRUD working, which can be a problem in time constraint events like a hackathon. We also learned in the future we will have to do more advanced filtering on our requests, as it is not scalable to large amounts of users.
What's next for SAP Connect
We'd like to add additional features to our project, as well as some bug fixes. For example, given that this is a social app, we think it would be helpful to allow users to connect their LinkedIn or other social networks with their account on SAP Connect. In addition, perhaps we could integrate it with SAP's own single sign-on service. Also, we'd like to customize the experience for users as much as possible. The first step in this direction could be to allow users to apply filters to more easily find others with similar interests. The cards that users swipe through currently only show a name and a photo - we also want to improve on this so that the person swiping gets a better sense of the other user's personality and interests. Finally, SAP connect wants to apply its technology to other companies to help others outside of SAP who are feeling more isolated and lacking social connection due to remote work.