Nerdsworth Academy


Mobile Site Development

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Hey all,

I first wanted to apologize for the few-ness of my posts in the last week. Don’t fret! I haven’t given up on this site. In fact, the truth is far from me giving up. Rather than spend my time on content for the site I have been spending some time working on a mobile version for the site as a professional development project.

Here’s a link to the Mobile TMZ site; it’s not much but a good start.

The mobile version takes the first few posts and makes a mini-site of them. To do this, I used a handy RSS parser called SimplePie, then grabbed a number of entries from the WordPress RSS feed. SimplePie makes it easy to grab specific parts of each post, like the author, date published, and the like. The PHP of the mobile landing page then uses SimplePie to generate a clickable list of the most recent posts. Clicking on a post goes to another page with all of that post’s content, with the exception of comments and the feature image. I really like that I don’t have to go about updating information in more than one place; all I have to do is write posts in WordPress and make sure the feed is accurate, and the rest is done automatically.

I used a PHP redirect script written by Anthony Hand to handle the detection and redirection of mobile devices to the mobile site. I liked Hand’s user agent approach to redirection because it is easily extensible as new devices come out and offers a high degree of granularity; I can choose what specific devices, device categories, or all mobile devices in general to redirect (or not). I can potentially redirect different mobile devices to mobile sites optimized for those devices… though the chances of me doing so are slim (at the moment).

The design of the mobile site is very minimalistic. There aren’t any fancy shadows, animation, or anything of that nature. Partially this is due to the fact that mobile devices suffer from more constraints in terms of processor power and memory, and also partially because I wanted to match the simplicity of the non-mobile version of the site. I originally constrained the dimensions of the pages to 320 pixels, but found that the page would not flow well if the device was wider than that (my Incredible turned on its side, for example), and because of this I recently shifted to a liquid layout… though I wasn’t thrilled with how the site looked on my co-worker’s iPhone, so I may have to figure something else out. The site is still very much in an early stage of development and I’m sure that it will undergo many changes in the coming months.

All of this being said, please, please, please let me know how good/terrible the site looks on your mobile device and let me know the specs of the device. I can test how the site looks on my HTC Incredible, and have access to iPhones & Blackberries, but that still isn’t a great number of testing devices, so if you see something, let me know. And again, thanks to all of the developers out there who made the technologies that this site is based off of. I love being able to set things up and then focus solely on creating good content, which I’d like to think that I do every now and again.

Cheers,
-S


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