I was inspired by watching people from all over the globe contribute what they could to help to combat the pandemic.  While I don't have a 3D printer or sewing machine, I know how to build dynamic websites very quickly; thus, I sprang into action on Sunday AM, and by lunchtime, it was live.

What it does

Daily Grocery Status allows people to search for commonly needed items (produce, meat, eggs and even toilet paper) across local stores.  It displays all of the results on a map, so you can choose the closest or best-stocked store.  Users can submit their own status updates, thus ensuring that the data is as fresh and accurate as possible.

How I built it

I used Oracle Application Express - or APEX - running on the Oracle Cloud Free Tier to build this site.  The bulk of it was done in about 4 hours.  For the map & address lookups, I used Google's services, which were very easy to integrate with APEX thanks to some pre-built plugins.

Challenges I ran into

The main challenge for this application is simple: adoption.  It’s only as good as the data, and if no one uses it, well, then it won’t be very good.  To overcome this, I quickly built and released a simple version of the application and have pivoted to spending my time soliciting media outlets and retail stores to help spread the word.  As I talk to more people about using it, I also continue to refine the UI so that it is as bullet-proof as possible.  The average user interaction will be less than 1 minute, so there is no room for a bad UI/UX at all.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

As one of the original members of the Oracle APEX development team, I am most proud of what that team has been able to achieve over the years with an enterprise-strength low-code platform.  There is no way that I could have built such a system in as little time by myself without Oracle APEX.  They deserve most of the credit here.

What I learned

I learned a good deal about building mobile-first applications with APEX.  Most of my time is spent building business systems that are run on desktop computers or worst case, an iPad.  With a mobile phone, you have to re-think every pixel of the UI, as obviously the entire application won’t necessarily be visible on the page at the same time.

What's next for Daily Grocery Status

I continue to improve the application.  New features such as store line wait times, comment and even perhaps some form of trend analysis and historical reports are all on the horizon.  In the meantime, I’m working hard to get friends, co-workers and even complete strangers to start using the application.

Try It out



apex, google-geocoding, oracle

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