Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mobile Madness

In a slight continuation of the previous post, I wanted to bring up an issue that has been brought to my attention recently. Since Flash support is steadily dwindling in the web world, and was never truly there when it comes to the mobile web world; I ... We made the choice to implement JSAni based loops for all mobile devices. Since JSAni is based in Javascript, it's highly unlikely that virtually any web browser (mobile or desktop) could not load a loop, and load it properly.

It turns out that second assumption was a bit too much.

Apparently Android OS version 2.3.x (aka Gingerbread) will not properly load overlay files from JSAni. What this means is that our satellite loops will not display ANY overlays... including the all so critical "Map" overlay. This problem is not a simple one. It's something fundamental about how all browsers on Android 2.3.x interpret the javascript loader in JSAni. Since these devices still allow the flash plugin that is required to run FLANIS on Android web browsers, in the coming days I am going to implement a way for mobile users to switch back to the desktop/flanis version of the satellite products. It may be a bit more frustrating to use on mobile, but it will work.

It's upsetting because JSAni is much more stable when it comes to loading a set of images and is less likely to crash. It's also easily customizable so that the interface is easier to use on mobile. And to top it all off, it works just fine on newer versions of the Android OS and iOS.

It may all be a mute point in the end, because eventually Bill and Tom at U of Wis.-Madison will be working on HANIS, an HTML5 based replacement for FLANIS that will hopefully combine both the functionality and customization of both JSAni and FLANIS. On that note, I want to say that these tools make running a met site unimaginably easier. A common saying in the NEXLAB world is "It is nothing without the loop!". Having these versatile animation tools is critical.

Well that's all I had to say on that matter. Other things going on; my work on the site is quickly moving from 'one big project at a time' to 'many small projects all over the place'. I'm attempting to implement a few site-wide design changes (subtle changes), but also have to divert some attention to some class related web work. These students need a new satellite lab.

I should say that the one big project on the horizon (which was hinted at in the previous post) is major re-structuring and re-development of our Surface and Upper Air Analysis page. We have a lot of new products to offer, as well as vastly improved existing products. Some of the changes to existing products should go into place this week. But my part of the job, improving the web pages for these products, is perhaps a few days to a week or two off. We have a lot of the new images worked out; right now we are still in the brainstorming stage of "What can we change to make this data easier and more fun to access?". With that, I end this post an open the discussion to you...

... I say that, but I know I have virtually NO readers at this point. But that's okay. ;)

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