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 Post subject: PocketPC Browser Support
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 12:50 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2000 2:32 am
Location: San Francisco, CA
I find that I do most of my casual home browsing (i.e. sites like TwistyPuzzles) on my PocketPC these days. In general, the sites I visit work acceptably or even have special views for mobile devices. Alas, TwistyPuzzles.COM is not one of them.

- The browser does support DHTML and JScript (at least the Windows Mobile 2003 version does), but does *not* support the popups used for the menus, so you can't get from the home page to the forms.
- The table structure and content of the templates forces both the index page and the topic page to be too wide for the PPC screen (240px). Generally, the browser is smart enough to "squish" things horizontally, but when you have table cells which are forced to a particular width by wide content (e.g. images) you end up having to scroll side to side to read messages.

The solution is to have the templates do a little bit of browser sniffing, or provide a special /mobile version of the site which has lighter chrome.

The UserAgent strings are:

PPC2002: Mozilla/2.0 (compatible; MSIE 3.02; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320)
PPC2003: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320)

For an example of a site using mobile-friendly templates, see pocketmatrix.com - tweak your browser's user agent setting and visit http://www.pocketmatrix.com/forums/.

The best features of a mobile-friendly template are:
- Navigation w/o DHTML (since different mobile browsers have different features)

- No tables - a table implies that the whole page must load & be recursively analyzed to layout the page. On a desktop computer (usually high bandwidth, big screen, lots of processing power) this is pretty fast and so we take tables for granted. On a mobile device even with high bandwidth (I have a 10Mbps WiFi link) the screen is tiny and the CPU is slow so tables are a pain. Use DIVs instead. Also, the browsers respect the page layout enough that tables used to position things side-by-side will always appear side-by-side - even if this page the page unusably wide.

- Images are fine - the browser will squish images wider than 240px (e.g. the Mefferts.com ad) down to 240px. But if you put it in a table next to another image (e.g. twistypuzzles.com) then the page is suddenly 480px wide and everything in the same set of tables is too wide to read.

- Be more creative with the layout of list items, both for the topic list and individual topic pages - for example, instead of relying on columns for name, date, subject, use multiple rows. Or just tables with minimal content, e.g. name/date on one row, subject on the next. Stack information where possible, e.g. in the topic view, show the poster info above each message vs. beside.

Since I'm an old web hack I'll be happy to help out, gated by time.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2004 4:43 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2003 9:26 pm
Location: New York, USA
It would seem silly to go to all that trouble for one person. Do you or Sandy know of anyone else who accesses this site with a Pocket PC? Does the user agent identification indicate this?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2004 12:37 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2002 1:10 am
Location: Toronto, Canada
Ouch. And here I was thinking my move to an 800x600 requirement was successful.

I too have a PocketPC, but I wouldn't dare think of using it to browse the internet unless absolutely neccessary. After reading what you had to say, I gave it a try and am not surprised one bit to find the site near impossible to browse since I hadn't considered the PocketPC when designing it.

The menu isn't loading because the software doesn't support the stunted PocketPC browser. (It's apparently in the works, but I'm not holding my breath.) If you haven't discovered it already, please bookmark and use the site map page for half-assed navigation:

http://twistypuzzles.com/sitemap.shtml

There is very little chance of me doubling my design time to support 1% (or fewer) of the visitors, but you have made a few suggestions that I can still take into consideration without "doubling" my efforts. A simple browser sniffer for the header file may solve some of these problems. It could easily be used to resize the header images, and provide a working menu (since the header only exists in three files). Also, an optional template for the forum is definitely workable. There's probably already a few out there somewhere that I could just download. Anything I did download, however, would still require some reworking due to all of the mods (some published, some custom) that I've added onto the basic forum software.

It may not be immediately apparent, but other pages on the site try to use the max 800 pixels in width as well, regardless of your browser size. Search result pages come to mind. All of those would have to be changed for the new header size to have any effect. Yikes. This design weakness essentially reflects my exhaustion with providing support for 640x480 for the past 10 years. I gave up on those guys this year, and until this message, I haven't looked back.

Since we're on the topic, does anyone browse the site on their cellphone or anything else similar?

Sandy


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2004 1:36 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2000 2:32 am
Location: San Francisco, CA
Obviously, I'm a minority. And over time, I'm sure that the capabilities of the devices will increase so it's unlikely that most sites will become mobile friendly; rather, the mobile capabilities will render that unnnecessary.

It's a bit of a bummer, because Wayne's site, while not optimized for mobile browsing, was much lighter weight and navigable on that form factor. It's pretty darn nice to sit on the couch and casually check web sites vs. being behind the wall of a laptop. Not being mobile friendly just means I'm not visiting nearly as often as I used to.

(But it doesn't keep me away entirely, obviously. Entering this much text with a stylus would be crazy. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:46 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2002 1:10 am
Location: Toronto, Canada
Are you still using this, or wishing you could, I mean? Is there anyone else interested in a drastically stripped-down skin for the forum (and forum only)?

Sandy


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 Post subject: ppc
PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2004 7:43 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 7:40 am
Location: Minnesota, USA
I, too, have a pocket PC. I get 20mb of transfer each month. It would be awesome to see TP.com on my ppc.

But I see TP.com as more a -- colorful, wide screen viewing site.

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G1(craze): '80 - '85
G2(dark ages): '86 - '98
G3(spark): '99 - '03
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G5(degradation): mid '07 - present (aka: youtube generation)


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 Post subject: A Tip
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 3:31 pm 
Think before you write. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: A Tip
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 3:49 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 6:14 am
Location: Orange County, CA, USA
glove51568 wrote:
....


Just wanted to comment that this user has been flagged as an undesirable spambot and is already flagged for deletion including the other accounts that were created the same day.

Thanks a bunch, casino spam. Now get out.

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