(Not) Obsessing over the iPhone

PPK of Quirksmode-fame it at it again, this time badmouthing iPhone-centric web development. A lot of people seem to take issue with his point of view, but aside from the (typically Dutch?) in-your-face bluntness, I do think he makes some very valid points. The web is about broad accessibility, about allowing as many people as possible to access your information/ application and the same should indeed be the case for mobile web development.
Sexy as a iPhone-UI mimicking webapp (based on e.g. iUI or JQTouch) might seem, it does have a number of important shortcomings:

  • it is sub-optimal for the web, even on iPhones, as the context is very different (e.g. in terms of responsiveness)
  • the iPhone-UI-approach does not make a lot of sense on non-iPhone high-end touch devices
  • it will probably not work on mid- and lower-end phones at all

So yes, web-developers should try to build mobile sites that render on as many devices/ browsers possible, as we do on the non-mobile web. Unless you’re willing to invest in several sites for different handsets, building for one specific device is a bad choice, however good the browser might be (and Safari Mobile indeed is great).
That’s why I decided to switch from the iPhone-centric WPTouch (which I installed only 3 months ago) to “WordPress Mobile Pack” for this blog. WMP offers great mobile functionality out of the box;

It includes a mobile switcher to select themes based on the type of user that is visiting the site, a selection of mobile themes, extra widgets, device adaptation and a mobile administration panel to allow users to edit the site or write new posts when out and about.

When running the MobiReady test to assess how “mobile-ready” my blog is, I get a great score of 4.35/5 (page size being the main remaining issue). So thanks for ranting PPK!

blog.futtta.be going mobile with WPtouch

blog.futtta.be goes mobileAfter reading how wordpress.com implemented not one but two mobile versions for all of their 4.5 million hosted blogs, I decided to install the same WPtouch-plugin on this very blog as well.
Installation and activation of a new plugin is very straightforward from within the wordpress admin-screens. In the case of WPtouch (and every other plugin that produces alternatives views of the same content on the same URL) however, there is a conflict with the WP super cache plugin which needs to be resolved by basically telling the cache-plugin to not handle request from browsers with “mobile” useragent-strings.
After that WP super cache config hack, your blog has a mobile section which you can tailor to your needs in the WPtouch config screen. These are some of the settings I changed:
  • removed categories and tags from the header (didn’t seem to work anyhow)
  • added most of my pages to the dropdown menu in the header
  • excluded my lifestream-digest posts from being displayed
  • removed author from and added excerpt to individual posts

If anyone visits this site with their mobile browser and stuff doesn’t work, your feedback is welcome!