Building an App for the Furry Family Member

Clean Your Pet with Dignity

Have you ever considered how truly humiliating the typical grooming experience is for your pet? Your beloved furry friend is jammed into the back of your car and shivers the whole ride there because she knows what’s about to happen. When you arrive, she’ll be taken to a “back room” with clear glass windows and shackled to a cold metal table in full view of other pet owners who stare and point while someone with rubber gloves scours every inch of her defenseless body.

The Product Roadmap

As with any attempt to disrupt the status quo, the main challenge we face is to convince enough customers (in this case pet owners and groomers) that they deserve better than the options currently available to them.

  • Locate groomers in their area using an open sourced mapping platform
  • Schedule, cancel and confirm appointments through an interactive calendar API
  • Rate groomers based on how satisfied the owner and pet were with the in-home grooming experience.
  • Pay for services through an integrated payment processing API
  • Set appointment availability through an interactive calendar API
  • Accept payments through an integrated payment processing API
  • Rate their customers

Assigning tasks

Our team’s mission is to ensure that users can perform each of the functions described in the Product Roadmap above with the click of a few buttons. This means that we, as developers, will need to click many more buttons to take the stress off of the users.

Trello Cards

Our first step was to create a Trello card for every user story in our product roadmap. The title of these cards simply describes the feature we will provide to our users. Trello lists these features for us so we can break them down one by one. Here’s a sample of what that looks like:

Stages

To ensure a consistent process for the implementation of every feature, our team created a series of stages that each card will need to complete before the feature can be deployed. The general idea is that the initial code generated serves as a first draft that needs multiple levels of review before being merged into the main version of the application.

  • A stage for peer review
  • A stage for stakeholder review
  • A “completed” stage

The Fateful Connection

Early in the development process of every dynamic application comes the point where the front end must first connect to the backend so that the application can provide user-specific information from the database. Despite extensive planning before any code is written, there are almost always glitches that the team needs to work through before this fateful connection is seamless. Sometimes those glitches can be as simple as typos in the endpoints, or synchronizing the data keys. Other times, however, the issues are more complicated and require collaboration with the team to resolve.

The Okta Problem

Those of us with a rudimentary knowledge in NodeJS or other backend frameworks can generally implement a simple system for authentication and authorizations involving either Bearer Tokens or Authentication Cookies. The problem is that, unless we have an extensive background in cryptography and/or other data security fields, these simple systems are not secure enough for widespread dissemination of a scalable app.

Local Servers, Postgres and a Hard-Learned Lesson

The next blocker is a little embarrassing, not because I was stumped on a piece of code or because I had to ask for help to get the answer, but rather because I failed to do something that I learned in grade school — follow instructions.

Where We Stand and Where We’re Going

We are at the turning point in our app when we wrap up the features we’re working on and turn it over to another team. Like many developers leaving a project, I wish we had accomplished more, but I’m also proud of the work that we did.

  • Scheduling functionality so customers can schedule with groomers directly on the application
  • A payment processing method so customers can make payments and groomers can receive payments through the app.
  • Additional data points for both customers and groomers

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