I figure about half my readers are of the age group that will immediately recognize the obscure 60’s TV show reference I just made in the title of the post. I can be fairly sure of that because Google Analytics tells me that’s the percentage of my readers who are roughly within my generation, age-wise. Google tells me all sorts of vaguely interesting things and sometimes some very specifically interesting things such as the fact that towards the end of April, they’ll be modifying their search algorithms to quite heavily reward those websites that are specifically designed for mobile browsers with greater rankings in searches conducted on smartphones and tablets.
Admittedly, I tend to resist sweeping change in technology, (which is what the switch in main consumption of the web from Desktop browsers to Mobile browsers really is), but the straw has been placed and the writing is on the wall: little-bitty screens of indeterminate resolution that require navigation be in the form of big-fat, thumb-pressable buttons is the FUTURE and the NOW. This cat better hop on the train ‘afore it clears the platform, baby, and this cat ain’t anything if he ain’t agile – despite his love of obsolete tech.
Thus TWDB Mobile 0.1 got pooped out in a day, but it had problems stemming from certain “feature” of the jQuery Mobile framework. Namely, jQM intercepts HREFs in your markup and ajaxifies them *and* for some reason url_decodes the URI before sending it to the webserver. This “feature” renders url_encoded search terms in your URI *useless* because the whole point of url_encoding the URI is to keep the webserver from choking on special characters like “#”, “/” and “?” that are programmatically meaningful to the webserver’s URI parser. Gah, this meant that every model that had any of those characters in the “model name” field were just broken. There doesn’t seem to be any way around it except to do something ugly like base64_encode the search term so at least I’m sure there can’t be any URI-illegal characters in it and it can still be parsed back to the original term with base64_decode on the server side, but dayum – that results in URIs that aren’t even remotely human-readable or meaningful for SEO. ):
But I did it (and for anyone desperately searching for the cause and solution for this particular issue with jQuery Mobile, see above), so the 0.2 edition of TWDB Mobile is now relatively bug-free. I also added some color to the layout. And then I implemented some server-side browser sniffing to automagically re-route mobile browsers to the mobile site.
I realize that this means users on mobile browsers can’t log in anymore to use the “Typewriter Hunter” features, but those are coming soon to the Mobile site, so have patience and use a desktop browser to do Hunter stuff for the time being. (:
Tonight there’s an eyefull of Underwoods on the TWDB, but do not adjust your set – everything is fine. This phenomenon is the result of a massive re-organization of the Underwood category and my first attempt to really get in and clean up an entire category by normalizing and condensing Model Names. I’ve done this to specific Models before, on a much smaller scale, but this time I really exercised some editorial liberties in an attempt to make the model navigation and categorization simpler and more sensible to the average viewer. If you take a look at the Underwood and Olivetti-Underwood categories on TWDB Mobile, you’ll note that they are much shorter and perhaps more sensible: You will note that I also completely made up some Model Names – for instance there aren’t really any “Portable 3 Bank” or “Portable 4 Bank” models are there? No there aren’t. Underwood called both these models the “Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter”, and each is clearly labelled so. Why did I do this? Primarily, to condense all of the dozen or so ways these machines were filed into two easily understood categories. Not “technically correct” categories, but probably the best choice for clarity and grouping these popular machines together in a way that you can see a clear evolution in design when you look at the list.
Compare that to the current Remington List: A lengthy and confusing hodge-podge of model names, most of which have but a single gallery entry. *Sigh*. Well, that fix is coming…
In any case, I expect that not everyone will agree with this move, and for various certainly valid reasons may argue for allowing more diversity in model naming, and may object to the removal from the Model Name field of “modifying descriptors” such as the typeface name or special features, but it really is a necessary step in the evolution of the TWDB as the number of galleries increases. It is also pretty vital in the process of breaking the serial number lists into specific model categories, so that they are much easier to digest on mobile devices and so that more information can be displayed for specific model lists. And, and, and… geez, so many things I have planned for TWDB Mobile and how serial number pages will be edited and who will edit them.. can’t even articulate it all now, it’s like a mad rush of chromium flashbulb bumblebees zinging around the skull… gah!!
Anyway, don’t be mad at me about the model name normalization, please. (:
Well, half the town was on lockdown yesterday thanks to some loony neo-nazi running around shooting at people, so I had some time to look at the jQuery Mobile documentation and ponder ideas about implementing a mobile-friendly version of the Typewriter Database. Well, you know how it goes – I zoned out and whipped this thing up in a day:
So, This is basically the first draft of a new mobile & tablet friendly version of the TWDB, and there are issues. Primarily, some of the very large serial number pages (such as Remington) can choke an older smartphone like mine, and the internal navigation on large pages like Remington just doesn’t work at all (something to do with how jQuery Mobile intercepts anchor hrefs).
In order for the serial number pages to really work well on mobile screens, they’ll need to be split up, probably by Models. This would, interestingly, allow linking the serial number sections directly to model name key indexes – but would require the current Model name data to be completely normalized and standardized. That’s a goal to be attained in the future, but is certainly a goal that can be attained. For now, this rough sketch will do for browsing the Typewriter Galleries and looking up serial numbers on your phone or iPad thingy. Give it a try! (: