I’ve been working on Micropub Checkins over the last week. It’s been a bit of a rush trying to get it into a usable state for an upcoming trip. And by “usable”, I mean a form that I can tolerate, and when it comes to projects like this, I can tolerate quite a lot. It can have a really dodgy UI (which this does) and miss some really important features that are annoying to work around; but if it works, and doesn’t loose data, I’ll be fine with it.

The main screen showing three check-ins
The main screen showing the recent check-ins. Note the lock next to some of them. These won't be published until the locks are removed.

The last week was dedicated to making the act of checking in distinct from publishing it. Until now, check-ins were published the minute they were entered, meaning that you cannot check-in somewhere unless you’re comfortable with people knowing where you are the minute you do. Yes, some people like it that way, but not me. And I’m aware that this’ll only be the case if people are following my check-in blog, which I’m doubtful of.

So pressing the floating action button and choosing a check-in type now starts the flow of a new check-in that will get saved in an SQLite database. You can edit the check-in whenever you like, so long as it’s not published. Currently there’s no real way of deleting a check-in unless it’s been published. This is a bit dodgy, but it’s a good example of how tolerant I am with working around these feature gaps for the moment.

The new styled edit screen with a title, description, rating, and a ready for check-in switch
The newly styled edit screen. Notice the rating field, which will appear for eateries.

Check-ins can be published by tapping the upward facing button on the main screen. Any check-in with a lock is private and will not be published until you toggle the “Ready to publish” switch in the properties. Doing so will not change the date of the check-in: it will still have the date and time that check-in was created.

The target list screen, showing two targets: one test target, and one for my real check-in blog
The targets are currently hard-coded but they can be turned on or off. I had a bit of trouble publishing a check-in to two targets, so I'm not sure if I'll keep multi-target publishing.

On the subject of publishing, I had some issues with Dart’s date and time methods. The method on the DateTime class used to produce an ISO-8501 date-stamp don’t include the time-zone if the date and time is not in UTC. This is important as I want the post date and time to be as close to the check-in time as possible, and in the time-zone of the phone. DateTime knows all this, including what the time-zone we’re in. So why didn’t the developers include it in the ISO-8501 date-time string?

This is really strange. Fortunately, ChatGPT stepped in to help out, writing a function which will add the time-zone offset to the ISO-8501 date-time string:

String formatTimeZoneOffset(Duration offset) {
  String sign = offset.isNegative ? '-' : '+';
  int hours = offset.inHours.abs();
  int minutes = (offset.inMinutes.abs() % 60);

  return '$sign${_padZero(hours)}:${_padZero(minutes)}';

Honestly, ChatGPT has been so helpful over the past week with this project, I probably should give it a credit if I get this polished enough to release.