Status Updater App

My father-in-law has very limited vision due to Macular Degeneration. As the disease progressed he became unable to use email to contact us from his assisted living facility. We needed to provide a way for him to contact us to let us know he is OK in the morning and afternoon or to call him if needed. For serious issues he has a button on his wrist to alert the local staff.

App Design

To help him to be able to stay in contact with status updates and call requests I designed an application that could run on Windows and provide two very big buttons that he would be able to see. When he would click on a button it would send an email to us with the contents depending on which button he clicked.

The initial design looked like this:

Initial Design

When testing that design with my father-in-law, he was able to see the button with the yellow background but unable to see the button with the green background. So one design change was to make both of the buttons with a yellow background to provide the most contrast.

The final design looks like this:

Final Design

And when the “I’m OK” button is clicked it becomes temporarily disabled to prevent sending multiple emails, and once the email has been successfully sent it will show a status message:

After Successful Update

The status message is shown with large text in order to be readable to the user.

Technology Used for the App

The app was built with the Wails framework. It allows the building of cross-platform UI applications using native UI elements for the front-end and the use of Go language in the backend. It is similar in concept to the Electron framework, but provides interoperability with native Go in the backend rather than Node.js.

Wails was very useful for this use case in that it allows for a familiar environment for the front end using Typescript and CSS to build the UI. For developers that are familiar with front-end Javascript and HTML frameworks it makes it easy to iterate on the size and color of the buttons using CSS. The interoperability with Go and its built-in libraries allowed for easy implementation of the SMTP protocol for sending the messages when the button is clicked.

Additionally Wails is multi-platform with current support for Windows, Linux, and MacOS desktops. In my use-case it was built as a Windows application since my father-in-law has a Windows machine. In the future Wails will also support Android and iOS which would allow for a tablet version of the app. A smart phone app would also be possible although the buttons may not be big enough for users with such issues with sight.

Code Repository

The code for this app is available on Github at status-updater.

The installable executable for Windows can be found at status-updater Releases.