homely - be homely, not lonely
Kathy Daniels, Bryan Wong, Caleb Terrill, Jay Park, Fred Chu
With concerns about COVID-19's exponential growth over the past few months and statewide quarantines taking place, we recognize how difficult it has been for communities to stay connected with each other, maintain health and wellness, and continue on with some semblance of normal life. From student responsibilities and work life to checking in with family and keeping up with friends, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with the drastic changes occurring everyday.
Social media platforms like Instagram have already seen a variety of trending challenges from those choosing to remain indoors during this difficult time. Push up challenges and embarrassing old photos show us that the young community continues trying to find unique ways to cope with social distancing and to spend their time. People on YouTube have started sharing videos about how they spend their days inside, things such as "quarantine recipes" or developing film at home or self-care practices at home.
With these ideas in mind, we decided to build homely. Homely is a productivity and social networking website designed to encourage wellness and social distancing, while still allowing for productivity and entertainment at home. A minimal to-do checklist allows users to keep track of goals they'd like to accomplish day to day, while a panel of shared photos helps users to see what others are doing during their quarantine experience. This panel is meant to inspire users with new ideas on how to spend their time or practice wellness at home, while also being able to share details about their personal accomplishments from their to-do list. And remember: Be homely, not lonely
We used Django as our backend web framework for the development of homely . This allowed us to develop a system using Python that would control our database and respond to http get and post requests. Additionally, the Django admin site easily allowed us to manual make changes to our database. During our development and testing, we hosted this backend locally on our laptops, but it could be easily deployed to a web server to be available on the internet.
Our backend API uses three main models: a user model, a personal todo model, and a public todo model. By deserializing Information from our local SQLite tables, we were able to receive information about our users/todo items in JSON format at the frontend. These JSON objects could then be easily parsed to display a user's personal todos or the public gallery of todos. Additionally, we used the React
knox package in order to authenticate user logins. Upon a successful validation, a token hash is returned that is used to fetch a user's todos. Upon logout, this token is invalidated.
axios HTTP request package and Python to fetch data and display them on the frontend.
Ultimately, developing homely proved to be a very rewarding experience, although we were perhaps a bit overambitious. We set out to build a fully functioning frontend and backend from the ground up, got pretty darn close, and learned a lot in the process!
This project was each of our first time using Django, which proved to have a huge learning curve. While we are glad we learned valuable backend skills, we also spent hours figuring out how to create models, views, serializers, and paths in order to store our data. Working on homely was also a great way of pushing the boundaries of what React and MaterialsUI could do for our frontend. We're proud that we managed to make a pretty responsive and aesthetically pleasing website!
Another challenge came in the form of LA Hacks being a virtual hackathon. Although we essentially worked for the entire 36 hours given to us, we still felt pretty strapped for time. It was difficult to have coherent discussions or work very effectively over Zoom. One big area of frustration was keeping track of all the packages to be installed. There were multiple times when our momentum came to a screeching halt because one of our team members had to wait 20 minutes for npm install to complete. Ultimately, we ended up with extreme sleep deprivation, a git repository with 163 commits and countless merge conflicts, and a social media network we can call our own!
The next step of this project would be a live deployment of the application using Heroku or AWS. It is currently just hosted on a local server, as shown in the demonstration video. We would also touch up the front end so that the post feed is more smooth and more closely resembles the Figma mockup.
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