Hacking for Resilience with MongoDB Stitch at PennApps XVIII

Michael Lynn


Please note: This article discusses MongoDB Mobile and Sync. Those products are currently being deprecated as we work towards a public beta of MongoDB Realm. To learn more about this, see the MongoDB Realm site.

Hosted and run by students at The University of Pennslyvania, PennApps is billed as “The original hackathon.” The eighteenth iteration of the nation's first college hackathon kicked off on Friday, September 7th at 7:30 pm and with participants hacking away until Sunday, September 9th at 8:00 am.

MongoDB was a technology choice for many of the hackathon teams, and as the weekend progressed, participants leveraging MongoDB stopped by to share details of their projects.

One application that stood out immediately was pitched by its team as a “100% offline communication app” called Babble. The trio from Carnegie Mellon University spoke enthusiastically about the app they were developing.

“Babble will be the world’s first chat platform that is able to be installed, setup, and used 100% offline,” said Manny Eppinger, a Junior studying CS at CMU.

The Babble development team
From left to right: Manny Eppinger, Michael Lynn (MongoDB), Conlon Novak, and Aneek Mukerjee

In keeping with the PennApps XVIII theme of “HACK-FOR-RESILIENCE”, a critical design goal of Babble is to be able to support 100% offline utilization including application installation via near-field communication (NFC).

Imagine you’re in the midst of a disaster scenario and the internet infrastructure is damaged, or severely degraded. Communication into, and out of these areas is absolutely critical. Babble asks the questions:

  • What if you didn’t have to rely on that infrastructure to communicate?
  • What if you could rely on what you do have -- people, cell phones, and physical proximity?

Working in a peer-to-peer model, each Babble user’s device keeps a localized ledger of all messages that it has sent and received, as well as all of the ledgers of each device that this instance of Babble has been connected directly to via Android Nearby Connections.

The team leveraged MongoDB Stitch and MongoDB Mobile, now in beta to ensure that the app will capture and store chats and communication from its users and when a connection becomes available, automatically sync with the online version of the database.

Babble Stitch Diagram

As hackathon mentors and judges for the event, my team and I were so impressed with the team's vision, and with their innovation that we chose them as recipients of the Best Use of MongoDB Stitch award which includes a prize package valued at $500.

Whether you’re a student hacker, or an engineer simply looking to get your brilliant app idea off the ground, I’d strongly encourage you to take a look at MongoDB Atlas and MongoDB Stitch to help you accelerate your innovation cycle and reduce the amount of time you need to spend building and managing servers and replicating boilerplate code.

Check out project Babble on Devpost.
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