Everyone has problems: health, money, relationships or the meaning of life itself. Some of them are very hard. And they never stop repeating themselves. Problem is - we are often not very good at identifying and resolving them and it gets infinitely harder when we are ill, depressed or under a lot of stress.
Good news are that problems can be expressed visually: entities and connections between them. Our eyes are very good at seeing and matching the patterns solving the problems of others sometimes feel much easier.
I am working on an application named "Solve" that will help you expressing and solving your problems using the visualisation tools and if you can't - let the other users help propose the solutions for you.
I've been working with crowdsourcing and cartography for many years and know that people can accomplish incredible things together, if you give them the right tools and and motivation. Why not apply it to cognitive challenges and the art of problem-solving itself?
- People help each other and share problems all the time, but speech and text are prone to misinterpretation and we forget everything and constantly lack a feeling of a "big picture" and continuity
- Graphs are concise, visual, universally and intuitively understood. They can express any situation or idea
- There are mind-mapping and diagramming applications, but people don't know how to use them for their everyday tasks, and lack motivation to do it.
- Schema therapy:wiki
What it does
It allows you to express your thoughts and problems using graphs. You can use very simple tools to show situations as a diagram of entities and links between them.
Then you can isolate parts of the picture to work on it separately on ask other people for suggestions.
They can edit, suggest and propose solutions to you, that you can adapt and merge back into your problem maps. It works like Github for real-life problems with visualisations.
How we built it
The core concept of the app is simplicity and availability. We chose to go for a cross-platform mobile-first application so that people could work on the visualisations in a collaborative manner. We used React Native with Expo and Node.js with visualisations made with Three.js.
Challenges we ran into
Cross-platform interactive graphics are a big challenge. We had to develop our own solution for graph visualisation using WebGL and enable it for touch devices and desktop with the same code base. Designing these interactions in a simple way was a huge challenge.
Another challenge was a storage solution, allowing full versioning and diffing so that the visualisations can be merged. We have developed a know-how for that. Also, building an interface for interactive visualisation diffing and conflict resolution was hard both technically and design-wise.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Figuring out the cross-platform interactive graph visualisation from scratch, with several unfamiliar technologies in a limited time. Designing an intuitive, simple and fun interface for something completely abstract and thus hard to approach.
What we learned
We've learned a lot about the UI and cutting off everything unnecessary on the way to implement the core functionality. While working on visualisations, we have learned a lot about ourselves, because we were using our own approach and analysing our own problems. Doing that also taught us a lot about the visual language of graphs and tooling.
What's next for Solve app
- Gamification of the app (we have a detailed plan)
- Ranking system and Monetisation
- Community driven problem-solving frameworks and templates
- Data analysis