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Upgrading the forum for mobile devices

Discussion in 'About This Site' started by Forest, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, everyone...

    Over the next several days, I'll be upgrading our forum software so that it works better on mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. During this time, you might see some hiccups in the forum, but they should be only very brief. I'll be monitoring everything very carefully to make sure that things go smoothly.

    I'll notify everyone when the upgrade is done. Afterward, you might notice some new options that you didn't have before. Aside from how the forum will be much easier to use on small screens, the post editor will look a little different (unfortunately, a little less colorful, but it will be much more upgradeable over time). Other than that, most of the improvements will be on the back end, so you folks won't see it. These "back-end" improvements will help us to build a better and more customized forum over time, though.

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here.

    Forest
     
    Ellen likes this.
  2. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    I don't own any mobile devices. But your tips for those who do ought to make them happy.
     
  3. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I've decided that the best way to do this is to set up a test forum to test the upgrade process on. It will be located at test.tmswiki.org/forum, and should be up by tomorrow in case there are any tech geeks like me who are interested in snooping around. :)
     
  4. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, I spent about five hours researching the upgrade yesterday. We have 15 "modified templates," 12 "add-ons," and 14 "modified phrases" that complicate the upgrade process, so there are a lot of balls in the air. As mentioned in my last post, last night I decided that a test forum was the way to go, so this morning I rolled out of bed and got to work on it. Maybe it's my type-T personality, but I didn't take a single break, except to get a sandwich (twice) for the next 8 hours! I'm happy to say, though, that our test forum is up and running at test.tmswiki.org/forum . It's running the upgraded forum software, but all of those templates and add-ons I mentioned still need to be handled. That's the next step.

    Setting up the test forum pretty much required me to write a system for backing up and restoring the forum. That's great news, because now we have an automated process for creating encrypted and compressed backups of the entire forum that I can store on my home computer. (In geek-speak, they are encrypted using 256 bit AES encryption and a randomly generated 18 character alphanumeric password.) That way if we some malicious hacker ever wipes the site out, we'll be able to get back up and running within a couple of days. :) ... not that I expect it to happen, but it's always a good idea to protect your data.

    All of this and you might not even notice the difference unless you use a mobile device! But 38% of our visits came from mobile devices in the last month, and I only expect that percentage to increase.

    Just over half of that 38% is fully mobile and the rest are tablets. I have to wonder if 38% is a little higher than is typical across the internet. Perhaps we TMSers tend to think a little bit differently than the typical person and tend to adopt new technology quickly. :)

    Either way, it will be good when the site is fully mobile ready. It will handle images better, too. The new editor may take some time to get used to, but I've heard it's better.
     
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forest,
    I just accessed the forum on my mobile device for the first time, and it works like a charm!

    As always, thanks for all your hard work and attention to detail.
     
    Forest likes this.
  6. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks, Ellen! Being a typical TMS perfectionist, I already have a mental todo list of things that I want to do to improve it, so I'm glad to hear that you like it. I sometimes use it on my phone, and I'll have to say it works quite well! :)
    upload_2014-1-2_17-37-48.png
    Personally, I'll take a keyboard for making posts (my girlfriend has mastered "swype" for typing on her phone, but she always has hilarious typos). However, I love the mobile site for just checking out the new posts when I'm waiting around.
     
  7. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Happily checking in from my iPod while I peddle on my exercise bike!

    Yay! This is just super, Forest!
     
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  8. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Wow, I am impressed that you can read while biking, North Star! I find myself checking the site when I'm curious in bed. I even checked it yesterday waiting in the grocery line! :) I think @Eric "Herbie" Watson has recently started checking on his new Nook.
     
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  9. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love having my iPod when I cycle. (It's semi-recumbant bike so it's not like I'm hunched over handlebars.) I use the time to clean up email and read articles or play Words with Friends. It's perfect for me. I used to have the FB app on my iPod but I removed that because there's just too much noise there. Having this forum mobile makes it easy to browse around more. I'm a captive audience.
     
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.

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