- Shopify Development, Quality Assurance
HVAC ESTIMATING APP DEVELOPMENT FOR HOME ENERGY COMPANY
Our client is an environmental services company that focuses on the issue of home energy and is dedicated to facilitating a more comfortable, health-conscious, and resilient living environment for all. Their mission revolves around the modernization of home heating and cooling systems, the improvement of indoor air quality, and the provision of expert guidance to homeowners in navigating the most optimal technological solutions tailored to meet their needs.
The company founder was referred to Spiral Scout by another one of our clients and approached us with an idea to develop an innovative mobile application that would transform the process of generating air conditioning (AC) installation proposals and estimates for homeowners.
The estimation app which would be used by HVAC professionals needed to have the following key features:
- The ability to select AC parameters based on homeowner requirements.
- Capture photos of the designated AC installation area, and then use an intuitive editing interface (drag-and-drop functionality) to place the selected AC unit onto the image.
- Draw multiple lines in a photo to show necessary utilities such as wiring and plumbing connections, ensuring comprehensive visualization for homeowners.
- Generate comprehensive proposals for homeowners, comprising essential details regarding the selected AC unit, installation costs, and illustrative images depicting the post-installation appearance.
Initially, the client faced difficulties with the time-consuming manual process of creating proposals using Google Sheets. This new concept turned this challenge into an opportunity by presenting not just an HVAC estimating app for homeowners but also a potential B2B application that could make HVAC installers' business operations more efficient. The goal of this HVAC proposal software was to provide homeowners with confidence in their AC installation decisions, offering a clear understanding of how it would appear and function in their homes and the costs.
As the project progressed, its original scope changed significantly, aligning with an agile development approach. This adaptability introduced an additional layer of complexity around planning out longer-term but daily standups and planning helped with that.
The project was developed from scratch based on the client's vision and their professional's feedback. Throughout the development process, we processed a lot of feedback and implemented a number of change requests from the client's side.
At the project's start, the client had some uncertainty about which tech stack to use. After some initial discussion, we settled on React Native for the app and Node.js for the backend. For the initial Proof of Concept (POC) of the mobile app, we decided to use React Native to speed up the development. The initial plan was to launch the app on both IOS and Android but the client reconsidered this decision due to Android's lack of a crucial LIDAR feature required for future app versions.
Within the project, the Spiral Scout team adeptly managed various roles, including Business Analysis, Design, Project Management, Front-end and Back-end Development, and Quality Assurance while working with the major stakeholders at the client's company.
The engineering team built the application on AWS to establish a robust and dependable backend infrastructure. We chose AWS Cognito as our go-to solution to not only facilitate user storage but also operate as an authentication provider for the JWT authentication system. This service includes essential user and authentication features, such as sign-in and sign-out capabilities. On the mobile side, our solution seamlessly integrates with SDKs that come equipped with user management functionality right out of the box.
For our backend architecture, we built it in Node.js, using the Nest.js framework for its simplicity and speed. Nest.js provides a well-structured project framework out of the box, known for its high performance and rapid development capabilities.
We created Swagger documentation and a Postman collection for the client. These resources serve as valuable tools for understanding the backend operations and promoting transparency among all stakeholders, including our frontend team and any future teams, who may be onboarded.
Our data management strategy revolves around TypeORM, allowing us to efficiently map database (PostgreSQL) information onto object models and simplify the creation of SQL requests. Initially, the MVP included an admin panel for catalog and content management, which would have required extensive custom development. As a team, we decided to use Retool which enabled us to create a functional admin panel with a direct database connection while minimizing coding and design efforts.
For the storage and sharing of graphical information in the database, we adopted a metadata-centric approach. This approach converts elements within an image, such as stickers or lines, into textual data detailing element coordinates, colors, sizes, and more. This data can be easily stored in a database, shared among team members, and accurately reproduced on various devices.
To streamline the development and deployment process, we utilized AppCenter for Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD). This strategic choice ensured that builds and updates were delivered to clients promptly, resulting in a swift and responsive development and feedback cycle.
This project involved developing a mobile application tailored to unique requirements, as there were no pre-existing solutions that met these needs. Every feature of the mobile app was built from scratch, which presented significant technical challenges, yet proved profoundly engaging and got good client reviews. Additionally, there was no integration with the client's existing systems, ensuring that the app operates independently.
The main goal of this HVAC estimating app was achieved where we were able to simplify the proposal creation process for HVAC companies operating in the residential electrical sector. Users were able to capture an image of a room and then proceed to drag and resize the equipment they planned to install. They have the flexibility to sketch and color communication lines, as well as add annotations and notes. These compositions are effortlessly saved as PNG images in the device's photo gallery.
A noteworthy aspect of this application is its robust offline mode, designed to accommodate houses without electricity or poor internet connectivity. In essence, it functions as a photo editing app.
The app is brand new and we are excited to see the client’s growth and success over the coming years.
At Spiral Scout, we believe that when it comes to software development and delivery, it’s time for a change.
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