Tyler Duckworth

AllerGPS

What is CodeTN?

CodeTN Is an organization that hosts various computer programming opportunities around the world. You may or may not remember that they were behind the push to break the world record for the most people programming at the same time last year. In addition to this, they work closely with KnoxDevs and organize meetups. For more information, see their website.

In addition to all this, CodeTN also sponsors a competition every year in which schools from around Knoxville create teams that create a “dynamic web application” that uses a database and helps the community.


The Idea

Early on in 2017, we decided that we would help the community that deals with food allergies. People with allergies faces lots of challenges daily, including meal choice. As we thought more and more about it, we decided that we could do that by allowing people with food allergies to see what restaurants they could/could not go to.


The Execution

This was my first excursion into somewhat-professional web development, so I didn’t know what exactly to do. Logan O’Neal and I looked over many libraries and decided on a couple.

We used Mapbox to create the interactive map that was the basis for our application. We chose it because it was an alternative to Google Maps that had a lot more customizability. I was very impressed with the level of customization Mapbox allows in their Mapbox Studio. They let you color different parts of the map whatever you want, and add whatever image you wish to the map.

In addition, we used fullPage.js for our front-end part of the website. The prospect of having customizable slides really seemed appealling and a good choice for a presentation of sorts. When we used it, it was mostly free, but as I look at the website now, it has become very priced.

For the “mobile responsiveness,” we used Materialize.css. Our usage of this was mostly the pullout menu for the phones.


The Reception

We went to the competition, and did not place. We were stationed in the Standard, a meeting place not far off from where the school is. Our presentation was shoddy, and as the night unfolded, we realized that we were not prepared nearly enough and that there was fundamental flaw in our idea.


Retrospective (i.e. the criticism)

What I will say in this is completely my fault, not the fault of the team. The biggest lesson I learned from this was the paradox of control. I wanted to be the end-all be-all for the team, and sacrificed any spark of creativity that I didn’t agree with.

We underused and overused libraries that year. Materialize would have made an excellent front-end design, but I only used it for one thing. FullPage.js was a good idea, but in practice we did not have a clear brand vision for the site. It instead became an amalgamation of colors and poorly-chosen fonts. I pushed away my Branding person in favor of my own design choices, and that helped cause the loss.

There was also a fundamental idea that we lost sight of: Precision. Our idea was not concise. It could barely be explained in a couple of sentences, and the picture it conveyed was often murkish and shallow. The attention we held waned after the first five sentences of explanation.

A Live Version of AllerGPS can be found here on my GitHub.


Hello! I was born in Knoxville, TN and currently attend the L&N STEM Academy. I have interests in things varying from digital design to programming. I work with the L&N STEMpunks Robotics team to model and program robots.