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JavaRanch goes mobile

Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
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Today is exactly one year since the launch of our Java based software. Last year, Ernest Friedman Hill created the name "Jumpin' JForum Day" as a holiday and this year we wished each other one amongst the moderators. So Jumpin' JForum Day to y'all!

Now that the software is a whole year old, we can say it was a big success. It has been easy to add new features and we are commemorating our one year anniversary with a big one. We now have a mobile version of (most of) the forum pages.

How do I access the mobile site?
You have a two choices:
1) Go to URL http://www.coderanch.com/mobile
2) Click the "mobile" link in an e-mail about a thread being updated or private message. (See below caveat if you use gmail)

Why aren't all the pages mobile?
Making mobile versions of a page takes time and some pages are less likely to be used on a mobile device. We migrated the common ones. If there is a page you frequently use that you want on the mobile site, post here. No promises, but there's a good chance those pages will have mobile versions in the near future.

Why don't you auto-detect that I'm on an iPhone/BlackBerry/Droid and direct me to the mobile site?
This is coming. It's not in release 1 because we want to make sure the mobile site works for everyone first. After all, we wouldn't someone to see the site for the first time and have a horrible experience!

Why isn't the site using http://mobile.coderanch.com or http://m.coderanch.com as the URL?
It was easier to architect the way we did it. The URLs are hit or miss as to whether they mention mobile. We were building this on the existing JForum and I wanted to leave the spirit of the controller intact. I also wanted to allow viewing a mix of mobile and non-mobile pages; especially at the beginning when a number of less frequently used pages do not have mobile versions. This may change in the future; it may not; who knows what the future will bring.

Why does the page say "formatted for mobile viewing by google"?
If you come via a gmail mobile link, Google doesn't recognize it as a mobile site and tries to translate. The workaround is to scroll to the bottom and click the link to go to our real site. Which looks MUCH better. If anyone knows what the real solution is, let me know. I also asked here

Other comments/questions/bugs?
Speak up in this thread!

And finally, thank you to everyone who worked on this feature. Ernest and I did the coding, but a lot of moderators helped test. Special thanks to Gregg Bolinger who tested the viewport fix (width display) at 11pm one night (my time zone - it was earlier for him) on both the iPhone and the Droid.


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Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31079
    
163

If you are curious about some "behind the scenes" work on this big feature, I blogged about "javaranch forums go mobile"
Devaka Cooray
ExamLab Creator
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Joined: Jul 29, 2008
Posts: 3274
    
  52

Wow, excellent
Happy birth day to the new forum software

BTW Seems there is a little problem with the date and time on the mobile version - the time that is shown in the mobile version doesn't match the client's local time zone. Can't we use that userLocalTime.js on the mobile version as well?

Looking forward to have a mobile version of the FAQ wiki as well


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Devaka Cooray
ExamLab Creator
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Joined: Jul 29, 2008
Posts: 3274
    
  52

Oops I missed that, it is mentioned in the mobile page
All times above are in ranch (not your local) time.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31079
    
163

Devaka,
A lot of JavaScript slows mobile devices down. We tested with and without the feature. The time to render the page is noticeable. I'd certainly rather not be sitting there waiting for that JavaScript to run!
Mike Simmons
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 3018
    
  10
Devaka Cooray wrote:Oops I missed that, it is mentioned in the mobile page
All times above are in ranch (not your local) time.

Perhaps this message could include the time zone name and/or GMT offset for "ranch time", currently MST or GMT-7. In summer though it's MDT or GMT-6. "US Mountain Time" would be a simple, consistent way of expressing that, though people in other countries might benefit more from GMT offset.

Anyway, congrats to Jeanne, EFH and the gang on a job well done!

Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31079
    
163

Mike Simmons wrote:
Devaka Cooray wrote:Oops I missed that, it is mentioned in the mobile page
All times above are in ranch (not your local) time.

Perhaps this message could include the time zone name and/or GMT offset for "ranch time", currently MST or GMT-7.

Mike,
The actual message includes current ranch time. Do you think GMT is clearer than the example? Or were your comments based on the partial quote that doesn't show the example?
All times above are in ranch (not your local) time.
The current ranch time is Jan 03, 2010 19:54:17.

Mike Simmons
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 3018
    
  10
I had seen the full message - my comments were based on that. Yes, having "current ranch time" printed on the screen does give a poster enough info to work out what's going on, but I think it would be clearer if the time zone were described as something more recognizable than "ranch time". MST/MDT would be recognizable to some, while GMT would be recognizable to many more.

Perhaps a bigger issue is that this message is down at the bottom. Many people won't see it at first, if at all. We're used to the way times are normally displayed at the ranch, and that's what we expect. I wonder if there's a better way to address this. Perhaps putting MST or MDT next to each time? Or putting all times in GMT, and labeling them as such. The latter would be much more recognizable worldwide.

I think it may well be possible to speed up the toLocaleTime() stuff by factoring out repeated work (we don't need to calculate user GMT offset for each and every date - once is enough), and maybe putting the date in an easier-to-parse format, like milliseconds since Jan 1, 1970. The printWithTodayYesterdayFormatting() stuff could be dropped as well - it's nice, but it's less important than a clear and accurate time. So if it slows things down, we don't need it. I don't know if such changes would make toLocaleTime() fast enough, but I suspect it could be substantially faster than it is now. Then again, I'm just a dabbler in the JavaScript world - others would know much better.

Of course this is probably low on the feature list if you're still converting pages to mobile format. Just offering thoughts as they occur to me.

Again, great job overall, Jeanne.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31079
    
163

Forgot to post the screenshot:


[Thumbnail for jr.PNG]

Vikrant Pandit
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 27, 2006
Posts: 245
Wow !! Amazing work Jeanne and everybody else involved.

ready.mobi gives the mobile version a fair score and also some useful tips.

BTW, once I visit the mobile version its not easy to switch back to normal view. It would be great to have some direct way to make it possible.


Vikrant Pandit
Vikas Kapoor
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 16, 2007
Posts: 1374
Vikrant Pandit wrote:BTW, once I visit the mobile version its not easy to switch back to normal view. It would be great to have some direct way to make it possible.


Not really. There is a link (Or visit our non-mobile (full) site) at the bottom of the page.

My question is , after switching to Mobile version, what makes the browser to continue rendering the Mobile version until you switch back to normal version. Cookies?

The URL for both are same. for example, SCJP forum.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31079
    
163

Vikrant,
I looked at the link you provided. A few of them are trivial to do (and not conscious decisions to not do) so I added them and they will be in the next release. Some are things to consider over time. We do have a link to get back to regular view.

Vikas,
Yes. The links are weird. It's a design compromise. I'm hoping in practice there isn't a ton of switching back and forth.
Vikas Kapoor
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 16, 2007
Posts: 1374
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Vikas,
Yes. The links are weird. It's a design compromise. I'm hoping in practice there isn't a ton of switching back and forth.

How do you identify the platform (computer or mobile) eventhough you're keeping the same URL?
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31079
    
163

Vikas Kapoor wrote:How do you identify the platform (computer or mobile) eventhough you're keeping the same URL?

If the user requests a mobile URL, we keep sending them to mobile pages within the same session unless they request otherwise.
Vikas Kapoor
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 16, 2007
Posts: 1374
Thanks Jeanne!
Arvind Mahendra
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 14, 2007
Posts: 1162
I can't click on the reply or new topic button from mobile


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Deepak Bala
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Joined: Feb 24, 2006
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    5

Congrats


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Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31079
    
163

Arvind Mahendra wrote:I can't click on the reply or new topic button from mobile

Works for me. What mobile device are you using?
Arvind Mahendra
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 14, 2007
Posts: 1162
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
Arvind Mahendra wrote:I can't click on the reply or new topic button from mobile

Works for me. What mobile device are you using?

I tried it now and it works. Using IPhone with javascript on.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31079
    
163

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Why does the page say "formatted for mobile viewing by google"?
If you come via a gmail mobile link, Google doesn't recognize it as a mobile site and tries to translate. The workaround is to scroll to the bottom and click the link to go to our real site. Which looks MUCH better. If anyone knows what the real solution is, let me know. I also asked here

Resolved. Thank you Ernest for pointing out that pointing to a mobile page on a mobile page is needed to make Google happy!
Vijitha Kumara
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Great, Congrats


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Arjun Srivastava
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naice


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David O'Meara
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Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

I love it.
 
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