Show Me the Universe! An App to Increase Feelings of Awe and Happiness!

This post is an entry into the No-Code Challenge: 0% Code, 100% App (and hoodies!) (Link)

Description

I’ve always enjoyed the NASA API (https://api.nasa.gov/) for projects. Especially the APOD (The Astronomy Picture of the Day.) This API provides a new picture of our awesome universe every single day. The archive goes back to mid-1995 so there are over a decade’s worth of amazing images. That’s well over nine thousand images.

The app I created with AppGyver is called Show Me the Universe! and is available here https://showmetheuniverse.appgyverapp.com/

Using the app, you punch in a date in the YYYY-MM-DD format, push the button and the app will return the photo and a description from the NASA APOD API Feed. It’s like a window into the universe from your PC or mobile device!

app%20sample%20screen

app sample screen

The Reasoning Behind the Idea

I wanted to make an app that could help bring users happiness. One of the emotions closely linked with happiness is “awe.” Here’s a USA Today story about the connection. (Link)

So the goal was, why not have a way to have users activate a feeling of awe in a simple way? And what else creates awe more than looking up at the night sky, or observing other phenomena of our natural world?

And so, Show Me the Universe! was conceived! An easy way to give yourself a dose of awe – and hopefully happiness – right from your device!

I love #nocode and have used a fair amount of tools. I found AppGyver to be excellent, but not perfect. There were some points of difficulty for me in building this app.

DISCLAIMER: I may not know what I am talking about with some of these things. I will simply relay my experience and currently knowledge. Any feedback on something I’m missing would be appreciated! .

  1. Setting up the API – getting it on demand.
    • Setting up the API and the data variables was easy, but getting it to retrieve a record on demand then properly update the items it was bound to, took me a lot of trial and error. The API continually refreshes every 5 seconds or so. I tried to eliminate that by altering the logic of the data variable but I couldn’t get that to work as well. I think because API calls are asynchronous and can be subject to delay, it would be nice if we could have the API bindings alter after one call and only one. If there was an event that would trigger when a NEW API call was completed – as in the #nocode tool Construct.net – that would be ideal.
  2. Can’t play videos
    • Some of the images from the NASA APOD API are YouTube Videos. As far as I know, AppGyver can’t play them. Would be cool if it could. But in case, I had to have some error trapping…which leads to the next point.
  3. Error trapping in case the image is a video.
    • So because the API refreshes itself periodically, if I have a pop-up alert warning the user there will be no image, the pop-up will keep surfacing. Again, the #nocode tool Construct.net allows a procedure to be designated “Run Only Once.” But I found no such solution. Also wanted the image to convert to a default “This is a video – can’t play it” graphic if the returned API was type video, but I couldn’t get the IF to work, so I made a crude disclaimer on the screen that says “if it’s blank, it’s a video” essentially.
  4. Date selection
    • Obviously a “date-picker” widget would be cleaner for the interface, but of the ones in the marketplace, they were either web OR mobile – not both. So I used the very crude text box entry.

AppGyver is sharp – I can definitely see using it more. I think I’ve gotten the hang of the API usage – but with improvements to that and the market place, it’s going to be my favorite going forward. Construct.net is great #nocode tool but focused on games. AppGyver focuses on any kind of app and that is a tool I’ll be adding to my kit.

Thank you! #nocode4eva and stay awesome, my friends!

Larry Nocella

Show Me the Universe! is available here https://showmetheuniverse.appgyverapp.com/