Florian Vallen

Full Stack Software engineer & Founder of the Hitchlog

The new face of the Hitchlog

Greetings everybody from the La Gomera in the Canaries ā˜€ļø. I spent the last three months rewriting the entire hitchlog app and today, I can finally ship it šŸŽ‰ šŸ˜„. The first commit of the hitchlog was on October 14th, which is now 12 years ago šŸ¤Æ, mind blown. After it went online, it amazed me how other travellers used it to document their hitchhiking experiences.

For example there is maddythewanderer or platschi who have notoriously logged their hitchhiking trips meticulously good and earned a place in the (old) hitchlog hall of fame statistics section with over 80000 hitchhiked kilometers.

Then there are other travellers like wallpaper who have written hundreds of stories for their rides and also uploaded beautiful pictures šŸ–¼ .

Furthermore there are others who have even posted videos. For example Ankun who showed us how to hitchhike a plane in Canada. Or just recently, Globaldane who made a video about a red pirate in Turkey.

It has been really heart warming and rewarding to see other travellers put so much great content and heart into this platform. This was exactly what I wanted it to be like when I started it. So guys, thank you so much ā¤ļø !

Looking at the old platform in 2022, I didn't really like looking at it anymore. I thought, "man! It's 2022! This is not what a website looks like in 2022!" The web has evolved since then. Back then web 2.0 was a new concept, now it's a standard. That is why I have decided to scratch the entire old webapp which was purely running on Ruby on Rails 4 and build it from scratch with a progressive javascript (Next.js) frontend and a Ruby on Rails 7 API backend. The entire code is open sourced on github and can be collaborated upon.

There are some things that are still missing from the old application like the statistics section or google and facebook authentication, but I'm working on it and it should be there quite soon.

One of the main things I didn't like about the old platform was that it wasn't very easy to view the stories, pictures or videos of the users. We have gathered over 3000 stories, but they are all hidden somewhere in the database. The old platform didn't do justice to the users who have written so many stories and posted photos. By redesigning the hitchlog I wanted to visualize the data better. That is why I have looked at the user experience of Airbnb and Riparide and cloned their search interface to view the trips. You can now search trips and view them on google maps as well. When you open the map inside the trips search you can sort the trips based on the current view bound and apply other filters as well. The UX is not perfect yet, but it will be in the future šŸ˜„. All of this was done so with mobile users in mind first. Also it will soon be possible to like trips and group them by likes.

New features

  • new look and feel thanks to the tailwind component library flowbite
  • new search interface
  • dark/light mode
  • better responsiveness
  • home made blog

Yet to come:

  • An even better search interface
  • Like a trip and grouping trips search results by likes
  • Followability: Follow a hitchhiker and get notified when he logged a trip
  • Find a travel partner: if you wish to travel the world by hitchhiking but you are yet missing a partner in crime to share it with.
  • New statistics section

Thanks to the help of three users we translated the old app to English, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch and Polish. Internationalisation would be quite a time consuming task for this app which is why we will stick to English for now.

In case you find a bug or have issues using the platform, please use Github issues to provide feedback and I will try to look into it. If you wish to send me a private message, please reach out to me. In case you are a frontend web developer, this could be a great project for you to collaborate on with me.

Nowadays I personally don't hitchhike a lot anymore. I am now in my mid 30s and I have grown way more comfortable than I was when I was 19. I now own a Campervan and I rather pick others up than hitching a ride. But having had this passion for hitchhiking for so long, I still would like to support this community and provide a platform for it.

Hitchhiking opens the room to encounters that would otherwise never happen.

Gratitude goes to all the users which made me warnt to work on this platform again after so many years.

ā¤ļøā¤ļøā¤ļø

Flo

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