The File Compile: Merging Document/File Management

When you are talking about supporting an individual’s healthcare needs, there is a clear need to see some documentation. Whether this is about verifying the information that has been provided or receiving a detailed note about an individual’s health condition, there is a clear need to see and share documents. Most healthcare organizations that provide grants or issue free health services have tech stacks that are capable of managing and securing files shared with them. AFFORDABLE is no different.

AFFORDABLE is an aggregation of programs from a collection of organizations that serve that community/population. They have the option to host their grants directly in AFFORDABLE, or simply link their database to AFFORDABLE webhooks so that their system listens for new applicants. If they want to consider AFFORDABLE applicants equally, they would also need access to the documents requested of other applicants that applied through other systems. Therefore, the ability to securely store and share files with other parties is imperative to the mission and success of AFFORDABLE.

Previous students at Gettysburg college built out a simple demonstration by compiling different libraries and expanding their functionality to build a simple graphical user interface allowing people to see the files that are associated with their account. They built and refined a user interface that is build of React.JS libraries. These libraries are popular for creating graphical interfaces that allow the user to see the storage of files they are uploading into AFFORDABLE. For the storage of these files, they chose to use Amazon’s S3 data storage options. This allows AFFORDABLE to take advantage of the infrastructure provided in Amazon’s Web Services. By the end of the semester, they were successfully able to have users upload, download, and delete documents.

While this old model worked well as a standalone system, it lacked a lot of the necessary features to allow a seamless integration into the full Affordable application. This was the key priority for the Gettysburg team this semester. However, there were some significant issues getting started. Many of the old changes made by the previous team were not sustainable, and instantly broke the software when they tried to implement new features or start migrating components over. This resulted in a steep learning curve that challenged the students to rebuild many of these parts from the ground up. As a result, they learned a lot about how these file managers function behind the scenes.

 Software companies that focus on cloud file storage, such as Dropbox, attract users with bells and whistles that streamline the user experience and have been adopted by most large companies. The Team wanted to translate those conveniences as much as possible with their new management system. The first is the ability to organize your file directory by renaming documents and creating folders and subfolders. This is made possible with a simple click and drag features for intuitive use. The next major feature they decided to incorporate is “dropzone.” This allows users to find documents on their computer, and to initiate the upload of a file requires only drag and drop of the file over their AFFORDABLE screen. This is a favorite feature of many that have become expected with the movement of files. Lastly, they incorporated a file viewer. With many documents listed, one might forget the contents of that document. With the click of a viewer button, AFFORDABLE can open the document for inspection. Their viewer can handle a broad range of files, from pdf, word, and excel, and image formats (jpeg, png).

While COVID posed some serious challenges, they did a good job getting the fundamentals working again such that future teams can build upon their strides implementing the file manager service. We thank them for all their hard work and wish them luck with their careers moving forward. This tool would be such a valuable service for our platform that would expand its utility significantly. However, it’s not an easy challenge, and we hope that Gettysburg will continue making great progress on this project in 2021.

Jeb Ely

I am a senior Computer Science & Economics Double Major at Gettysburg College. Outside of class, I am involved in ACM club and am the Executive At Large of my fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha. My hobbies include playing electric guitar, lifting weights & exercising, and meditating.

Brandon Hall

I am a Gettysburg College student studying computer science and music. I have lived in many places including Germany, and Australia. I am very passionate about video games and their development, and would like to further explore making games and developing software.

Connor Berson

Connor Berson worked on AFFORDABLE’s File Manager Project as his Computer Science capstone project at Gettysburg College.  He is a senior who is double majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. After graduating, Connor plans to either find a job or graduate degree that combines his passion for Computer Science and Math. In his free time, he enjoys long-distance running and video games

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