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The Media Announcements Handhelds Hardware

Wikipedia Launches a New Mobile Interface, Seeks Help 70

Posted by timothy
from the discuss-in-the-talk-section dept.
hampton2600 writes "The Wikimedia Foundation is proud to present our new mobile site optimized for modern high-end phones. The interface is focused on being clean and easy to read on your mobile device. We currently officially support reading on the iPhone and Android phones. The new gateway is written entirely in Ruby (using the Merb framework) and the Git repository can be found here. We are looking for open source help with supporting other phone types and translations into new languages. Currently 8 languages are supported, but we'd like to support all languages Wikipedia supports. This is an active project and we are looking for new features, etc. from the community."
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Wikipedia Launches a New Mobile Interface, Seeks Help

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  • FINALLY! (Score:3, Informative)

    by kaizendojo (956951) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @03:14PM (#28113637)
    I have been waiting for this for a long time and will gladly test the hell out of it. If you've ever tried accessing WIKIpedia with Mobile IE you'd know it was an exercise in futility.
    • Re:FINALLY! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @03:18PM (#28113707)
      Mobile IE...was an exercise in futility. Yes, but did you notice how much easier it is with Mobile IE to toss the hardware running your browser into the toilet when you get frustrated with it? That's a real improvement in user satisfaction!
    • The most frustrating thing about the old mobile site [wikipedia.org] was that it straight-up doesn't display tables. Which makes it tough when you want to, say, look up the songs that appear in Guitar Hero, or want to browse the episode information of a TV show.

      Thank fuck they made this version! Much better!

    • by Swizec (978239)
      Not to sound dense or anything, but accessing wikipedia on my default blackberry browser was rather ... well it worked very well. The thing I've found especially nice is that for whatever reason the content always came first and the menus and crap last so you didn't even have to scroll past all the cruft like on most websites out there to get to the content.

      What's the point of these mobile sites again? Why are they different? Isn't this what's supposed to be solved by different stylesheets for different vi
      • A Blackberry is meant for browsing the web, and newer ones especially the Bold are really good at that. But lets say you have an older smartphone for whatever reason or on the built in Java browser on non-smartphones and you will really really appreciate having a mobile site. Add that with a lack of 3G and without a mobile site you will be gouging out your eyes before you actually end up being able to use the content on there.
        • Opera Mini runs on pretty old phones and works extremely well with Wikipedia. The new mobile version uses less bandwidth, but apart from that the full version is fine. The mobile version also loads REALLY quickly -- much faster than full Wikipedia -- on my desktop browser, that's what's really amazing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Mr. Slippery (47854)

        What's the point of these mobile sites again? Why are they different?

        Low bandwidth, for one. This weekend I was at a campground, right on the edge of having no signal at all (had to walk a half mile from our campsite to get out of totally dead space), and wanted to check the weather report to see if a storm would hit us. m.wund.com [wund.com] is much more useful than www.wunderground.com [wunderground.com] in such a circumstance.

        Isn't this what's supposed to be solved by different stylesheets for different viewing devices anyway?

        Of

    • by Quantos (1327889)
      And here I thought that they were beyond help.....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PGillingwater (72739)

      I don't see the point of this when we already have WikiTap [vtap.com] for the G1 and the iPhone.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Biased towards mobile devices.

  • vs m.google (Score:3, Informative)

    by just_another_sean (919159) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @03:31PM (#28113863) Homepage Journal

    It will be interesting to see how it compares to going to m.google.com and linking to a site through a search result. My experience so far is that m.google does a pretty good job of reformatting sites for mobile devices on the fly.

    I'll probably be able to submit some feedback based on testing on the PSP.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @03:35PM (#28113919)
    Shake phone to shuffle "citation needed" tags around page.
  • Native App (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShadyG (197269) <bgraymusic&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @03:38PM (#28113951) Homepage

    Sorry, but wherever possible I avoid booting up the iPhone browser, and prefer to use native apps. There are such apps for Wikipedia available, and free, so I don't see myself using the mobile site. Am I alone in this? I don't go to Netflix, or Facebook, or any other sites anymore where there is an application I can boot up more quickly.

    • Indeed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brion (1316)
      By amazing coincidence, the mobile reformatter serves as the backend for our upcoming native app (and probably other peoples' unofficial native apps once they realize they don't have to run their own reformatter proxy).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Is there an app you can use to edit wikipedia or just read it? The mobile site doesn't allow editing or logging in.

  • CSS? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roemcke (612429) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @03:53PM (#28114083)

    Instead of using a different url for handhelds, why not use a customized CSS together with the "handheld" media type?

    See http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS2/media.html [w3.org]

    Having two different urls for the same content, but for different target devices breaks the concept of linking. Google and other webpages linking to Wikipedia can not know (and should not know) what kind of device the users have.

    • Re:CSS? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Carnildo (712617) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:13PM (#28114263) Homepage Journal

      There are changes that can't be done with CSS. For example, you can hide Wikipedia's navigation framework, but you can't keep the 25k of HTML from being transmitted in the first place. You can resize images with CSS, but you can't keep the larger size from being transmitted, and you can't make the client-side scaling look good.

      • You can resize images with CSS, but you can't keep the larger size from being transmitted, and you can't make the client-side scaling look good.

        I thought you could totally do that in webkit w/ whatever this: http://webkit.org/blog/55/high-dpi-web-sites/ [webkit.org] turned into. Did that feature ever happen?

        • by tepples (727027)

          I thought you could totally do that in webkit w/ whatever this: http://webkit.org/blog/55/high-dpi-web-sites/ [webkit.org] turned into.

          That page recommends SVG, higher-resolution images scaled down in the <img> element, and use of a new, IE-incompatible CSS attribute to scale background images and list bullets. It doesn't help the bandwidth problem that you will want to send less-detailed vectors or less-detailed bitmaps to a device with fewer dots per inch or bits per second.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by master5o1 (1068594)
        There is also the server side checking of whether it is a mobile device or not which can aide in determining what page structure should be used. Using the user agent string they can redirect a regular wikipedia url to a mobile url, or simply sub the difference in page structure and have no url redirection.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NNKK (218503)

        25KB of navigational HTML implies a rather more fundamental flaw.

      • URLs sent from mobile users to desktop users will send desktop users to the mobile site.
      • Deep links from one platform sent to users on the other platform will redirect to the front page

      These are avoidable, but I run into them constantly.

    • It's not really the same content. The normal page simply has too much stuff for a good interface on something as small as a mobile device. Much of the UI is missing, such as the left nav bars and the tabs for article history and discussion. Sure, you could hide the extra stuff with CSS, but on a mobile device, where CPU and bandwidth are bigger issues, that's not a good solution. It's just a case of the right tool for the right job. Some sites are better off making use of CSS for mobile devices and sending

  • Put it on another page. Mobile isn't just about displaying on a small screen; it's about not wasting your user's bandwidth. The page at 'm.wikipedia.org' should have a search box. Done. Put a link to a 'featured article' or some such if you must.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hampton2600 (654273)
      We are targeting users who most likely have unlimited bandwidth. That's who mostly would be using a site like this anyway. if you want a really small and efficient version, try the old WAP gateway at mobile.wikipedia.org
      • by aliens (90441)
        It's not about having unlimited bandwith. It's about getting the data downloaded and rendered as quickly as possible. Why add in extra markup when 3G speeds aren't exactly speedy and mobile devices aren't rendering pages THAT fast yet?
      • There is never 'unlimited bandwidth.' Any more than there is unlimited memory, unlimited storage space, unlimited processor speed. At least two of those are just as important on a mobile device as the bandwidth part.

        Let alone the difference between 'unlimited bandwidth' and 'unlimited throughput speed.'

        Quite honestly, saying 'we're targeting unlimited bandwidth' is just asinine, in my most humble (well, not so humble) opinion. Ranks right up there with '640 k' and all that.

        By the way, the current version

        • Alright, so there is no "unlimited" data plan. You are right. What I meant to say is that we are assuming a reasonable data plan for users of high end devices. Personally, I'd say your comments have much more in common with the '640k' arguement, because mobile technology and bandwidth are moving fast... and we are attempting to build something to last more than a few years. At least with our personal mobile use, we don't worry too much about bandwidth, just load speed. And yes, we have no support for IE
          • Define 'reasonable' data plan. Or is the Encyclopedia for Everyone(tm) only for people who can afford the crazy carrier fees? Or for people who happen to be lucky enough to get a good plan?

            It's still no excuse for not optimizing. And how is moving what is, to what I'd think is the majority of users, unnecessary data off of the main page and to a sub-page, where it's still available, being somehow future-unproof?

            At least with our personal mobile use, we don't worry too much about bandwidth, just load spee

          • by tepples (727027)

            mobile technology and bandwidth are moving fast

            This might be true in Japan, Korea, the UK, Ireland, and mainland Europe. But North America, home to three-fourths of people who live in an industrialized anglophone country and therefore a huge part of the readership of English Wikipedia, tends to lag in the 3G department.

        • Don't let the haters and trolls get ya down. ...What I like is the comment from the one guy who's like, "Man, I don't want to use m.wikipedia; I've already got an app for that!" *Sad trombone*

  • by einTier (33752) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:21PM (#28116289)
    If this automatically redirects the iPhone to the wikipedia mobile site, I hope that there will be an easy link to click back to the "real" fully enabled site.

    I am extremely tired of websites suddenly realizing that the iPhone is a cell phone and immediately redirecting me to the "useful" mobile site, which is usually optimized for WAP devices. Even worse, the majority of them do not allow you to access the fully enabled site in any way, shape, or form. Look, I can understand that some iPhone users would prefer to see the WAP site. However, one of the selling points of the iPhone for me is that it has a web browser that allows me to navigate and read any site. Please allow me to keep using the full functionality of the iPhone and your website and quit trying to dumb it down for me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kelson (129150) *

      So far, I haven't seen them do any automatic redirecting. But they do detect iPhone and Android browsers on the regular site and add a link at the top of the page saying "View this page on Wikipedia's mobile site."

    • by cmelbye (1313675)
      I'm curious, what about the regular interface do you like that isn't present on the obile interface for Wikipedia?
  • If they focussed on stripping down the size of the Javascript and CSS, and ran it through the YUI compressor [yahoo.com], they could make a big difference to site responsiveness for everyone, not just mobile users. It probably wouldn't hurt their bandwidth bill, either. As it is, there are two CSS/JS files that, uncompressed, are larger than 25kb (and two others that come perilously close). Guess what? This means they don't go into the iPhone cache [yuiblog.com], and have to be reloaded every time.
  • Great! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sootman (158191) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @10:26PM (#28118449) Homepage Journal

    And a good mobile version of Slashdot is coming... when?

    • Actually of all news sites I find Slashdot loads the best. I'm using a Nokia with a fairly small screen, not an iPhone sized one, and it manages to get the column of stories the right width so I don't have to scroll around (well, other than down), and the same with comments. It could be a lot smaller bandwidth wise of course, and I'd love an m.slashdot.org. But compared to mainstream news sites it is magnificent.

      And what the FUCK is with mainstream news sites' mobile version being so pathetic? m.theage.co

    • by Zebedeu (739988)

      Opera Mini formats Slashdot perfectly on my mobile phone.

      I don't know if the magic is being done by Slashdot using some sort of browser indentification, or by Opera (Opera Mini accesses the web through a proxy run by Opera), but the resulting page looks nothing like the normal Slashdot page, and is much smaller too.

      In fact, you can configure Opera Mini to get the full page (deselect "Mobile View") and you can see the difference both in layout and in size.

    • by Mr_Silver (213637)

      And a good mobile version of Slashdot is coming... when?

      Avantslash [fourteenminutes.com] is what you need. It'll produce a mobile version which is perfect for Windows Mobile, Smartphones, Blackberries and iPhone. I use it every day to read Slashdot on the train. Disclaimer: I wrote it.

      I did read the site linked in your signature and commend you for a making a good effort. To be honest, although mine is more convoluted, I think it produces a better result. However if you've got some ideas on how to improve it then do let me know

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