Small-Business Focus

Have you been lonely during these last several months of social distancing? Do you miss the social interaction and organic spirit of your local farmer’s market? Have you seen family and friends who own small businesses struggling to stay afloat? We know we have and that’s what inspired us to create That’s so Local.

That’s so Local is a virtual farmer’s market. Our interface allows buyers and sellers to connect for face to face transactions in a virtual environment. We designed our interface in Figma and then deployed a lo-fi prototype in React JS.

What we Learned

We had a high learning curve using Figma considering none of us had prior experience. We also ran into CORS issues; the front end browser is unable to call NCR’s api gateway since they were not on the same domain. As a result, a server side sitting between That’s so Local’s client and NCR’s server had to be developed. Additionally, node and react take up more memory than IBM Cloud Foundry allows for free Docker instances. As a result, the build needed to be optimized by starting from an alpine container and copying over only the necessary static files generated by React. Nginx was used to route traffic and serve them appropriately. Lastly, due to a lack of experienced developers, the team focused on deployment and api integrations over front-end functionality. The resulting lightweight front end made keeping track of client state more rocky.

Technical Skills Gained

Our team was proud to have created a mid-fi rendering in Figma because we learned the program from scratch. We all learned new skills like creating designs in Figma, and also using React and connecting with the NCR payment software. Our fluency in both design terms and technical terms increased as well because we were able to collaborate on both sides of the process. We learned about deploying web applications to the IBM cloud, as well as the huge suite of computing power that’s offered there.

Conclusion

Our team’s ultimate wish is to help solve the problems That's so Local seeks to address. We’ve all loved attending our home community’s local farmer’s markets and have been devastated to see them go. Our hearts especially go out to the vendors and the people whose income depended on the market. As lockdowns in America are hopefully lifted in the coming several months, we think the space is prime for some digital assistance to help cities warm up to farmer’s markets again, and we hope to evaluate whether That's so Local could be a crucial part of that.

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