people.46elks.com/martin/

Frontends are not my thing

I'm a typical backend programmer. When I deliver my JSON struct or data stream from the server I think that everything is great. But for some reason a lot of users are not happy with that. I would like everyone to change and accept a JSON struct instead of using a GUI. This does not seems to be happening anytime soon.

Since it seems to take a long time, before I have turned the general public to my way of thinking I will have to make some kind of frontend for people to use. I wanted to make a APP to check the balance of my public transportation card ( SL ACCESS ). I did not have the energy nor the real skills to create a GUI for that. At Travelhack 2013 I got to know about 46elks , it was my salvation for this use case.

Instead of creating a complete UI I just connected the backend to incoming and outgoing SMS. The backend loads the account data from the SL webpage to get the balance of each card and sends it to the user. It may look like this:

image

To make it possible for the backend to access the SL data, the user credentials for SL are needed. This is why the user need to set the credentials as the first SMS to the service. All SMS are sent over the air unencrypted so it is not the best solution. However it is better to send it once instead of sending it every time you need to know the balance.

The next time the user sends anything to the service it responds with the balances of each card. This is very simple and works on any phone anywhere. And hey I did not have to do any GUI work!

However it would be great if SL would add support for OAuth 2.0 for example. To make it possible to avoid sending credentials over SMS. However it would then be required to have access to a web browser on the phone or access to a web browser on a computer.

Written 2016-02-29 by Martin Harari Thuresson