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Iphone Forum Browsing App Compatibility

LudiousLudious The PoopsmithA butt, where the poop isRegistered User regular
I was just wondering if there are currently any Iphone forum browsing apps that are compatible with the PA Forums. In my research it doesn't seem that there is; however, there are apps that can be made to work if the Admins are willing to install a plugin on the server side.

It would be a boon to those of us that are stuck in situations where we'd like to browse the forums but only have our handheld to do so. Pinching and zooming in Safari is no fun at all. On top of that, the font size seems to change randomly from post to post in Safari on the Iphone. Overall, an app that pulled the posts into a more handheld friendly environment would be awesome.

I fully realize that the PA Forums are a fairly customized beast and that this may not work or may simply not even be wanted, but there are a handful of us that would like to be able to (easily) navigate the forums on our Iphones.

There are two apps I know of that support this:
TouchBB Forum Browser
and
Tapatalk Online Community

Just wondering if you guys could give me some insight into this.
Thoughts, feelings?

Ludious on

Google Talk: ludious83
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Posts

  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal Flo-ridaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    This is something that has crossed my mind, and I think it would be really nice.

    From the iPhone end, it's relatively simple to do for basic thread reading and posting, etc, through the wonders of DOM scraping, however any such app would be susceptible to potential markup changes.

    It's on my list of things to try and do whenever I get the time.

    A plugin would be 50 times more awesomer though.

  • SquallSquall hap cloud Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Really the only thing that bugs me about it is the randomly changing font size

  • AbracadanielAbracadaniel Certified BrimperRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I've played around with the above-linked apps too, and a compatible version of the forums would be pretty cool, though I have no clue as to how difficult it would be to pull off.

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  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited October 2009
    How well does this URL work on the iPhone? http://forums.penny-arcade.com/printthread.php?t=102588

    If it works sufficiently well, you might be able to create something for yourself that just rewrites all showthread.php with printthread.php?

  • ASimPersonASimPerson And protect them from the evils of the world like trigonometry and prime numbers.Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Pretty well, actually.

    Is there a similar thing for the indexes?

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  • AbracadanielAbracadaniel Certified BrimperRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    that is pretty cool.

    whoever develops a PA Forum app, I will pay you cash monies


    that Tapatalk thing is pretty cool, though, too.

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  • SpoitSpoit *twitch twitch* Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The text size is the main problem. Something like this or CAG's mobile version would be amazing

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  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited October 2009
    ASimPerson wrote: »
    Pretty well, actually.

    Is there a similar thing for the indexes?

    'Fraid not, sorry.

  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal Flo-ridaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Ramius wrote: »
    How well does this URL work on the iPhone? http://forums.penny-arcade.com/printthread.php?t=102588

    If it works sufficiently well, you might be able to create something for yourself that just rewrites all showthread.php with printthread.php?

    I am fairly certain you could actually build this into the forum code to read the browser agent and change all thread links to that page.

    Dunno how much wiggle room you have in terms of source manipulation.


    I mean, the alternative to that is to pay the 100 dollar license fee and actually get the app approved.

  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited October 2009
    Does Greasekit work on the iPhone version of Safari?

  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal Flo-ridaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Unlikely without teh haxxors. Greasekit itself interfaces through the OSX shell (so far as I am aware), and there isn't much shell to work with in the iPhone.

  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited October 2009
    Does vbulletin not have a default lo-fi setting? I know IPB does, and they are basically carbon copies of each other. I was always curious as to why we didn't have it turned on here, so maybe it doesn't exist.

  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited October 2009
    It does exist. It is referred to as the "search engine friendly mode" - it is from a different era when search engines got easily confused by all the self-referencing in forum software. Search engines actually now work as well or better on the actual forum content that everybody uses, and thus I turned off the "search engine friendly mode". Because I want to make sure our content isn't indexed and listed twice in the search engines. And have you ever done a search in Google and arrived at the lo-fi version of a forum? It is annoying.

  • LunkerLunker Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    There's also an iPhone/smartphone specific version of the NeoGAF forums available here: http://www.secondapps.com/neogaf/

    I don't know who made it, but I use it all of the time. Would totally love a PA equivalent, as in particular trying to write longer replies gets hairy very quickly.

    EDIT: Nevermind, this was already posted. Sorry!

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  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2009
    Ramius wrote: »
    How well does this URL work on the iPhone? http://forums.penny-arcade.com/printthread.php?t=102588

    If it works sufficiently well, you might be able to create something for yourself that just rewrites all showthread.php with printthread.php?

    The only obvious problem with that is there's no functionality (post reply, quote, etc.).

    I hate iPhone 'optimised' websites that remove all the desired functionality. eg Amazon, I prefer to just use their 'PC Site' because their iPhone site doesn't let me do any of the things I want to do.

    OK, I don't really hate them, I just don't use them.

  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I'd just like to gloat for a minute that my "obsolete" smartphone running an "obsolete OS" (Palm OS5) views the PA forums better than Apple's shiny new juggernaut. The forums view fine in both Blazer and Opera Mini (with or withought mobile view).

    I don't know a lot about the iPhone, but the company I work for may be supporting it soon, so I kind of need to bone up a little. Does iPhone's Safari browser not have any sort of "mobile view" option or was that not included because the iPhone is supposed to have a "real" web browser? On a side note, I read about the whole Apple and Opera fiasco.

    I think the last time I heard about a mobile browser specific version of the forums it was shot down because it would be detrimental to performance for the standard forums. Hopefully with the recent prevalence of powerful mobile phones with web capability that is something we can look into again, not just plugins for iPhones but a solution for small screen browsing in general.

  • AbracadanielAbracadaniel Certified BrimperRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    well that was a cringe-worthy post

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  • fightinfilipinofightinfilipino legally competent Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    if i didn't know any better, i'd think SmokeStacks just failed the spambot poster test.

    like, all five prongs of the test.

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  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I am not even sure what that post was about.

  • ZackSchillingZackSchilling Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I think it was about how mobile Safari sucks because the changes it makes to rendering are less extensive than those made by mobile Opera. Well, that and some kind of strange inferiority complex.

    In the end, though, I think the point was to seek a solution that makes the forums mobile-friendly, not iPhone friendly. Because not everyone browsing by phone has an iPhone.

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  • AbracadanielAbracadaniel Certified BrimperRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    That's a fair concern.

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  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Mainly I was just making fun of the iPhone while asking that any changes to make the forums more accessible to mobile phones be across the board and not just iPhone specific.

    Maybe a poll would be in order someday to determine how many users hit the forums from their Palm, Blackberry, Windows Mobile device, or iPhone. I'm sure the iPhone probably has more users, but it would still be good info to have.

  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Ramius wrote: »
    How well does this URL work on the iPhone? http://forums.penny-arcade.com/printthread.php?t=102588

    If it works sufficiently well, you might be able to create something for yourself that just rewrites all showthread.php with printthread.php?

    The only obvious problem with that is there's no functionality (post reply, quote, etc.).

    I hate iPhone 'optimised' websites that remove all the desired functionality. eg Amazon, I prefer to just use their 'PC Site' because their iPhone site doesn't let me do any of the things I want to do.

    OK, I don't really hate them, I just don't use them.

    This is one of my pet hates - especially when they can't transfer links from one to the other. I can't count how many times I've Googled something on my phone, hit a link to Gamespot, and shouted in anger because it took me to the mobile homepage rather than the article I wanted.

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  • AbracadanielAbracadaniel Certified BrimperRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Mainly I was just making fun of the iPhone while asking that any changes to make the forums more accessible to mobile phones be across the board and not just iPhone specific.

    Maybe a poll would be in order someday to determine how many users hit the forums from their Palm, Blackberry, Windows Mobile device, or iPhone. I'm sure the iPhone probably has more users, but it would still be good info to have.

    So. . .you're making fun of a device that you already admit you know next to nothing about. . .

    The forum browsing apps linked in the OP, while iPhone specific, are also fairly well-featured, and have much of the same functionality of the forum (PMs, replies, etc) but without all of the panning and zooming that you have to currently do using Safari. Many companies offer mobile versions of their sites specifically tailored for the iPhone's screen (ie the PAX map and schedule some forumers threw together this past year), and while that would be great, the tools provided with the forum-browsing apps would make it an overall smoother and more useful experience.

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  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited October 2009
    I know that Mike and Jerry typically disavow all ownership of these forums, at least in their posts... but If there was an official PA app for 2 dollars or so that made browsing, searching, and posting on these boards seamless, along with viewing the comics full screen / newposts / archive I would pay for it, no question.

    It's not like browsing PA on the iPhone is horrible; it is so far beyond what IE mobile does that it's laughable (and I honestly like it better than Opera Mini, to boot), but something that felt native would be amazing.

  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited October 2009
    Maybe a poll would be in order someday to determine how many users hit the forums from their Palm, Blackberry, Windows Mobile device, or iPhone. I'm sure the iPhone probably has more users, but it would still be good info to have.

    Keep in mind that we currently do not have a mobile-friendly forums, so measuring how many people access the forums via mobile TODAY doesn't tell you much about the potential users if a mobile-friendly version existed.

    That being said, I can tell you that the percentage of our traffic which is mobile is small enough that even a ten-fold increase would not cover the cost of development through sales of a $2 app. 77% of the traffic that is mobile is Safari on iPhone, which leads me to believe it is a usable platform, compared to the others.

    THAT being said, there are probably some things I could do to improve the mobile-friendliness of the forums. Sort of a meet-halfway solution. I'll have to have a think on how I can do it in a low-impact way. The problem with customizing what we have is, each customization adds overhead to future upgrades. We already have too much overhead in upgrades. (If you are familiar with team development, think - merging a branch with 500 changes spread across 60 files into a trunk which has received 2000 changes spread across 200 files. That is basically what we face with each upgrade, though I am probably underestimating the number of changes).

  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited October 2009
    What makes this difficult for me is, I don't have ready access to a mobile platform for testing :?

    Does Mobile Safari support bookmarklets?

  • AbracadanielAbracadaniel Certified BrimperRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    yes, it a hacky kind of way

    I know at the very least there's an Instapaper bookmarklet that works in mobile Safari.

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  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited October 2009
    Ramius wrote: »
    What makes this difficult for me is, I don't have ready access to a mobile platform for testing :?

    Does Mobile Safari support bookmarklets?

    Well, if you have a mac, you can do development on an iPhone emulator for free.

    And I really think something that interprets the pre-existing forum code and parses as opposed to changing the forum itself would be far easier.

    edit:linky for the iphone dev kit

  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Honestly if the only improvement was to add a prompt to double-check whenever you hit the 'Unsubscribe' link in the user panel, I'd be set. I've unsubscribed from so many threads because of small text and inaccurate fingering.

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  • ForarForar #432 Already prepping for Toronto Fan Expo!Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Willeth wrote: »
    inaccurate fingering.

    ... too easy.

    But seriously, as an iphone owner, I'd love to be able to browse/post easily from it, but reocgnize that we're already running heavy on modifications to the forum software, so any easily implemented/updated compromises would be awesome.

    Also, someone hook Ramius up with an appropriately equipped phone, stat!

    sigone.png
  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal Flo-ridaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Ramius wrote: »
    Maybe a poll would be in order someday to determine how many users hit the forums from their Palm, Blackberry, Windows Mobile device, or iPhone. I'm sure the iPhone probably has more users, but it would still be good info to have.

    Keep in mind that we currently do not have a mobile-friendly forums, so measuring how many people access the forums via mobile TODAY doesn't tell you much about the potential users if a mobile-friendly version existed.

    That being said, I can tell you that the percentage of our traffic which is mobile is small enough that even a ten-fold increase would not cover the cost of development through sales of a $2 app. 77% of the traffic that is mobile is Safari on iPhone, which leads me to believe it is a usable platform, compared to the others.

    THAT being said, there are probably some things I could do to improve the mobile-friendliness of the forums. Sort of a meet-halfway solution. I'll have to have a think on how I can do it in a low-impact way. The problem with customizing what we have is, each customization adds overhead to future upgrades. We already have too much overhead in upgrades. (If you are familiar with team development, think - merging a branch with 500 changes spread across 60 files into a trunk which has received 2000 changes spread across 200 files. That is basically what we face with each upgrade, though I am probably underestimating the number of changes).

    Is *is* possible to create an iPhone specific stylesheet, or even a mobile specific stylesheet, that can layer on top of the existing one, so that future forum changes would still show up in some capacity or another without necessitating that you immediately migrate them to the mobile stylesheet.

    But that assumes the forum is even CSS friendly to begin with. I don't know if it is.

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Ramius wrote: »
    What makes this difficult for me is, I don't have ready access to a mobile platform for testing :?

    Does Mobile Safari support bookmarklets?
    I think what Ramius is trying to say here is that he'll make the forum mobile-compatible if someone buys him an iPhone.

  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I browse the pa forums by windows mobile and it works great! Granted I'm using opera... but it works great. I don't think you need an app, but if people really want one, that's cool, and I'd try it out.

  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2009
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Ramius wrote: »
    What makes this difficult for me is, I don't have ready access to a mobile platform for testing :?

    Does Mobile Safari support bookmarklets?
    I think what Ramius is trying to say here is that he'll make the forum mobile-compatible if someone buys him an iPhone.

    Can't Gabe or Tycho give him a hand-me-down? I'm sure they must be or already have upgraded to the 3GS. It's the least they could do...:D

    The thing with the forum at the moment is, it works in mobile Safari. All the functionality and content is there in a familiar form and I read and post on the forum quite a bit from my iPhone. It would be fantastic to have a big, iPhone friendly interface to make button presses and such a bit easier but it's not a desperate requirement from where I'm sitting.

    Unless Ramius will get a free handset out of it, in which case it is a huge priority and totally worth the time and money invested.

  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited October 2009
    I'll note that I'm seeing the same random font size changes that the OP mentions when browsing with SkyFire. I see them on the printthread.php page as well, but less consistently. I'm unclear why that happens.

  • ZackSchillingZackSchilling Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    A stylesheet alone probably wouldn't be sufficient. The theme uses tables for structure in places and some spacing values are hard-coded.

    But I could always be wrong. Someone should try.

    Edit: Automatic font size changes are one of Mobile Safari's tweaks. If the font size of any bit of text can be increased without changing the page rendering in a few specific ways, then it's done. Typically, text is expanded (up to a certain size) until the minimum page width changes or an element with a hard-coded dimension has its text overflow.

    ghost-robot.jpg
  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Ramius wrote: »
    I'll note that I'm seeing the same random font size changes that the OP mentions when browsing with SkyFire. I see them on the printthread.php page as well, but less consistently. I'm unclear why that happens.

    In all seriousness I would just be happy with a consistent text size (although the larger size would be preferable)

  • ZackSchillingZackSchilling Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    A few iPhone only CSS properties would clear this all up.

    From here: http://website-engineering.blogspot.com/2009/07/stop-adjusting-text-size-in-iphone-when.html
    To turn automatic text adjustment off, set -webkit-text-size-adjust to none as follows:

    html {-webkit-text-size-adjust:none}

    To change the text adjustment, set -webkit-text-size-adjust to a percentage value as follows, replacing 200% with your percentage:

    html {-webkit-text-size-adjust:200%}

    Setting the text size adjustment property:

    <body style="-webkit-text-size-adjust:none">

    <table style="-webkit-text-size-adjust:auto">

    <div style="-webkit-text-size-adjust:200%">

    ghost-robot.jpg
  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal Flo-ridaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I don't think those are iPhone only, those are Webkit only, which affects Chrome and Safari on any platform, however that with a combination of the proper <link media=""> attribute could do it.

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