xcode / smartphone app

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ites's picture
ites
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Oct 24 2012 13:09
xcode / smartphone app

I've been looking at xcode and was thinking it would be cool to try to work on developing a libcom smartphone app. I don't have a clue about how to use it as yet but it seems like as good an opportunity to learn, and I've managed to rope in one or two comrades already who work on them already and have said they'd be willing to help.

I guess the main thing to start with is to find out if there's anyone else who would be interested in working on a project like this and thoughts as to how to proceed. I thought one of the main benefits straight off the bat would be to get the news feed accessible for when you're on the move, but it would also obviously make sense to try to make the library more accessible as well.

Anyway, let a torrent of enthusiasm, ideas and willingness to contribute time and energy for this project stream forth.

jolasmo
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Oct 24 2012 14:06

I would love there to be a libcom.org iPhone app (but have none of the requisite skills or knowledge to help build one sad ).

~J.

snipfool
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Oct 24 2012 14:31

ites, sorry I didn't reply to your PM. I assume if you're talking about xcode you're planning to make an iOS app. I've not done any Apple development before. Although an app would be great, I'm wondering what advantages it'd have over a mobile themed version of the website? The latter would be available on all platforms and possibly be an easier starting point.. Also I imagine an app would just be scraping the website anyway?

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Steven.
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Oct 24 2012 14:39

Firstly thanks to anyone who offers to help with this, it would be cool to have a libcom smartphone app.

However, in terms of just plain browsing the site rather than an app as suggested it would be better for us to have a mobile theme for the site. This is something we would like to develop but we haven't had time yet. If anyone would be able to help us with this please let me know!

So in terms of a smartphone app, does anyone have any suggestions on what one could do?

One thing I thought possibly would be that an app could show you an article on working class history based on your location (using our Google map location module).

Or it could have an "on this day in history" article.

Any other suggestions?

ites's picture
ites
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Oct 25 2012 07:28
snipfool wrote:
ites, sorry I didn't reply to your PM. I assume if you're talking about xcode you're planning to make an iOS app. I've not done any Apple development before. Although an app would be great, I'm wondering what advantages it'd have over a mobile themed version of the website? The latter would be available on all platforms and possibly be an easier starting point.. Also I imagine an app would just be scraping the website anyway?

I'm not too sure what the pros and cons of each are to be honest so I'm not sure I know enough to comment. What's scraping? I don't know as I say but if there was a way to avoid the admins having to go over all the pages and make them mobile themed would that be a better option? Or is it possible just to create mobile versions of all the pages using a different scripts and the pages are built automatically? *tries to remember back to webpage making days*

If that's the case then maybe a mobile themed version would be better, at least where things like the library are concerned?

Steven. wrote:
Firstly thanks to anyone who offers to help with this, it would be cool to have a libcom smartphone app.

However, in terms of just plain browsing the site rather than an app as suggested it would be better for us to have a mobile theme for the site. This is something we would like to develop but we haven't had time yet. If anyone would be able to help us with this please let me know!

So in terms of a smartphone app, does anyone have any suggestions on what one could do?

One thing I thought possibly would be that an app could show you an article on working class history based on your location (using our Google map location module).

Or it could have an "on this day in history" article.

Any other suggestions?

Sounds like the consensus is moving in the direction of a mobile theme. The app that directs you to articles based on your location sounds great - great tool if you go travelling!

On this day in history sounds awesome as well, have been thinking of doing something like that myself for a while now, would be more than happy to collaborate in putting that together.

Will send a link to this thread around to one or two people and see if I can't rope in some more helpers anyway.

ites's picture
ites
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Oct 25 2012 07:34

Looks like as good a place to start as any...

snipfool
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Oct 25 2012 10:05

ites, knowing fuck all about drupal and how libcom has been styled/themed, i'd hazard a guess that they wouldn't have to go through each page, more like each page type. e.g. it's not like each time you create a topic it needs its own style - there's a style for topics.

you'll have to think about how you expect this app to work, e.g. how will you get a libcom article to your app? does drupal have web service APIs we can use to get the content? or will we have to visit the website behind the scenes and lift the content based on an assumed markup of the page (scraping)? if the former then i'd imagine you'd have to work with libcom technical admins for details of their server etc.

that video looks like a good intro but you don't become a developer overnight grin

Harrison
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Oct 25 2012 10:29

I'd stay away from screen scraping... its quite inefficient and generally only used when site admins are hostile, unlike our friendly libcom collective !

plus every site update could potentially break the app.

snipfool
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Oct 25 2012 10:54

http://drupal.org/node/663706

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Oct 25 2012 22:58

Yeah, for a mobile theme we wouldn't need to do every page separately: just do a theme for the whole site.

Will post more in the next few days about the app/on this day possibilities etc

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Oct 25 2012 23:09

Your want a mobile 'skin' but want to keep it seperate from your cms internals, then this is an option, you can run it on a different port, easy to set up, one rules file and knowledge of CSS and HTML is all that is required. I use it in the past for theming Plone sites.

http://docs.diazo.org/en/latest/index.html

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Oct 25 2012 23:21

Objective C is an option but its not the most forgiving language, esp if your not a programmer. One of the javascript/HTML5/css frameworks are much easier to develop http://www.phonegap.com being the most popular, and you can deploy for most popular smartphone OS's, so can put it on the app store etc. If you wanted an proper app then this would be the route I would go down. And you can develop it from straight inside xcode4.

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Oct 25 2012 23:27

^^^ For the above one would assume you would have to have an api that could interrogate the drupal database and pull out queries/content through json request or some such thing. Dunno how good drupal is at such things I always had it in my mind that Drupal was a bit of a PHP hack of shit.

angusmcbagpipes
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Oct 26 2012 13:21

hi.

i write apps for iOS.

i have time to write an app for libcom. i would be glad to take this on as a project.

so far it sounds like the thought is to have an app that presents the following content:

1. Today in history. For each day present significant historical events from a database (could be built into the app or pulled from the libcom site).

2. Events near me.
a. From the past. similar to item 1 but by geography.
b. Happening now or in the near future.

3. Search events. self explanatory.

does anyone have any thoughts on this and how we might proceed?

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ites
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Oct 28 2012 04:54
angusmcbagpipes wrote:
i have time to write an app for libcom. i would be glad to take this on as a project.

Great! Is it possible from a technical point of view to do the work on the app collectively? I wouldn't mind using it as an opportunity to learn more about the general process of writing Objective-C and whatnot.

angusmcbagpipes wrote:
so far it sounds like the thought is to have an app that presents the following content:

1. Today in history. For each day present significant historical events from a database (could be built into the app or pulled from the libcom site).

2. Events near me.
a. From the past. similar to item 1 but by geography.
b. Happening now or in the near future.

3. Search events. self explanatory.

does anyone have any thoughts on this and how we might proceed?

Would seem to me to make sense to build in the Today in History part from the site since on the one hand the general consenus seems to be for a mobile themed version, and on the other people who access the site from their desktop can view it as well.

Having articles and history items linked to your geographical location sounds like an awesome idea I think. We could call that it the "revolutionary tour guide."

How hard would it be to work the ability to access the forums into the app?

angusmcbagpipes
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Oct 29 2012 22:32

yes, we can develop collectively. but, there are some basic requirements.

- everyone should be using the same version of Xcode.
- if there are multiple people working on the code, then one person should act as a code librarian who unifies the code and tests for compatibility between the various parts of the app.

if the app is going to be something like a today in history or a revolutionary tour guide type thing, then there is a natural division point between the code running on iOS and the code running on the server. i've done a lot of work on unix, so i can do stuff on both parts if that is necessary.

-

accessing forums... that would depend on how it was done. if we want something really nice rather than just a mobile skin, then it is a bit of work. but there is nothing there that is too hard to do. it only takes time.

-

one general comment. Facebook did an iOS app a while ago. it was terrible. it was slow and unreliable. that was because they relied too heavily on rendering a mobile skin type app. recently they redid the app from the ground up as a much more "native" iOS app. the new app is much faster and it just works.

yes, iPhones are fast, but servers are much faster, it is usually better to have a fully native app that queries the server for data that is very easy to process and render.

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Oct 30 2012 09:57

Yeah, ites for stuff like accessing forums etc we would prefer to have a mobile theme for the site. As I don't think we would have the capacity to keep updating the app if it was like the Facebook app, say, for browsing the site.

In terms of on this day in history, for that there would be a piece of work for us to do on the site itself. In that basically we would have to set up a date field and go and categorise enough of our content to have something on every day.

We have not done this yet.

But we do have our content geo-tagged via Google maps.

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Felix Frost
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Oct 31 2012 11:05

Why don't you just make your current theme adaptive, so it will work on tabs and smart-phones also? From what I can tell, you are already based on the Omega theme, so this shouldn't be too much work to implement.

angusmcbagpipes
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Nov 1 2012 18:46

it sound like there may not be much interest in developing a native iOS app.

if there is interest, i would be glad to write the app, make the source code freely available, and help others to learn about writing iOS apps.

blackout
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Nov 7 2012 10:52

Thought this was the best place to post this, but I've recently started using 'Pockets' (used to be called Read It Later), don't know much about it but I find it really really good for reading Libcom articles on my (Android) phone and it's available for lots of different platforms.

I am in no way affiliated with it, just been looking around for something to read articles with whilst on the train and found this one really good. You get a plugin for your web browser and it gives you a button to press whenever you want to send something to your phone to read it later, then you can sync the data and it formats it really nicely so you can read it on other devices.

In terms of a dedicated Libcom App, I think i'm more inclined toward the mobile site idea, apps are exclusive whereas a lot more people can access the internet on their phone. Also once there is a mobile site, that should mean it's easier for app developers to import thing into an app should they wish to?

Also is a libcom app going to get through the App-Store filter?

blackout
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Nov 7 2012 10:53

There's also this:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.cu...

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Nov 15 2012 08:40

Sorry for the delay in replying, have been flat out.

angusmcbagpipes wrote:
yes, we can develop collectively. but, there are some basic requirements.

- everyone should be using the same version of Xcode.
- if there are multiple people working on the code, then one person should act as a code librarian who unifies the code and tests for compatibility between the various parts of the app.

if the app is going to be something like a today in history or a revolutionary tour guide type thing, then there is a natural division point between the code running on iOS and the code running on the server. i've done a lot of work on unix, so i can do stuff on both parts if that is necessary.

Great. How would you feel about taking on the role of code librarian Angus? You seem to have far more of an idea about the specifics than the rest of us. Most of my computer skills reside in graphi design and layout so that's probably where I'd be able to contribute the most.

So as far as xcode goes I have version 4.5.

Was Steven saying something about having a 'today in history' section on the site? What would that mean in terms of incorporating it into an app?

angusmcbagpipes wrote:
accessing forums... that would depend on how it was done. if we want something really nice rather than just a mobile skin, then it is a bit of work. but there is nothing there that is too hard to do. it only takes time.

Better to take a bit more time and do the job properly I reckon. A stitch in time and all that.

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Nov 15 2012 08:48
angusmcbagpipes wrote:
it sound like there may not be much interest in developing a native iOS app.

if there is interest, i would be glad to write the app, make the source code freely available, and help others to learn about writing iOS apps.

I guess from the point of view of not needing to update the app too much (and getting it through the store filter for that matter) it would probably make sense to make as much of it web-based as possible. Might even cut down on the amount of work that needs to be done as well and maybe even potentially cut out some double-handling.

I'm definitely interested to learn more about writing iOS apps.

blackout wrote:
Thought this was the best place to post this, but I've recently started using 'Pockets' (used to be called Read It Later), don't know much about it but I find it really really good for reading Libcom articles on my (Android) phone and it's available for lots of different platforms.

I use Pockets and think it's a good app, but I think half the reason it is useful is because Libcom doesn't have its own. Also Pockets wouldn't allow you to use other features of the app that we're thinking of putting together, such as the 'tour guide' one which would allow you to access articles relevant to where you were geographically.

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Nov 15 2012 08:49
Steven. wrote:
Yeah, ites for stuff like accessing forums etc we would prefer to have a mobile theme for the site. As I don't think we would have the capacity to keep updating the app if it was like the Facebook app, say, for browsing the site.

In terms of on this day in history, for that there would be a piece of work for us to do on the site itself. In that basically we would have to set up a date field and go and categorise enough of our content to have something on every day.

Any progress on this front Steven?

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ites
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Nov 15 2012 08:54

Just for the sake of reference I made this a couple of weeks ago with a web-based site, partly to see how it turned out and partly to try to familiarise myself with app-building. As it turns out I didn't have the hundred bucks or so I needed to submit it to the app store so I couldn't put it up, but if nothing else I got the dimensions for backgrounds, splash screens etc.

http://ibuildapp.com/projects.php?action=info&projectid=369888

snipfool
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Jan 15 2014 01:46

http://tapatalk.com/activate_tapatalk.php?plugin=dp

Is the development of this tapatalk plugin for drupal of any relevance to libcom?

Would be great if libcom supported tapatalk.

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jef costello
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Jan 15 2014 07:13
snipfool wrote:
http://tapatalk.com/activate_tapatalk.php?plugin=dp

Is the development of this tapatalk plugin for drupal of any relevance to libcom?

Would be great if libcom supported tapatalk.

A little more information would be helpful snipfool.

snipfool
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Jan 16 2014 00:11
jef costello wrote:
snipfool wrote:
http://tapatalk.com/activate_tapatalk.php?plugin=dp

Is the development of this tapatalk plugin for drupal of any relevance to libcom?

Would be great if libcom supported tapatalk.

A little more information would be helpful snipfool.

Sorry, Tapatalk is a smartphone app you can use to access many internet forums in a way that's easier and more mobile-friendly than through desktop versions of the sites. It supports a lot of forum systems but I think they've only recently started (beta) support for drupal, which libcom runs on. It's just an alternative to a dedicated libcom app or a mobile theme for the site I wanted to flag up for the techy admins, in case a mobile libcom ever became a serious consideration. I've not idea how hard it would be to plugin and set up, which is why I didn't say much else than just flag it up.

Jim, that's a shame, cheers for having a look though smile