London Indymedia

iMobile - indymedia on the move

iMobile | 20.02.2007 12:47 | Indymedia | Technology | London

This is an invite to anyone who might be interested in helping to shape and develop initiatives to make indymedia more mobile. (see for a general rant on what this might mean).

7PM @ the hacklab - 15-17 rampart street E1 2LA (off commercial road)

Specifically this meeting will focus on making indymedia more friendly to users of handheld devices like mobile phones, pdas and other wireless devices. There are two main areas of concern;

a) alternative publishing models (ie. ways to get content off the streets and onto the newswire via a mobile device.)
This might consist of reporting via spoken phone calls, text messaging, email or MMS of photos/video, client side phoneblogging applications etc.)

b) mobile accessible to indymedia content (ie. ways to ensure indymedia content can be accessed from the street)
This might be web pages constructed with the limitations of handheld devices in mind or more exotic ideas like localised fm transmission of internet audio streams, SMS/MMS subscription services, or even bluetooth snarfing.

There has been actively development taking place on both of these issues in the last week and things are moving quite quickly, hence the short notice for the meeting. It would be great to get more peoples input and help.

Everyone, even (or especially) non-techies, will have valuable insight into how this might best work!

However, in terms of specific tech skills, people who can modify PERL and PHP scripts would be particularly valuable. Also useful, people with knowledge of MIME types or CSS and FREEMARKER templates as used by the indymedia MIR CMS.

Progress so far -

A perl script written by Kenneth in Barcelona is available to provide an email to newswire gateway. Ivor who is on the freedomlab list has offered to host it and can hopefully make the coding changes required to add some additional features. It's uploaded to his repository and I've done what I can to add documentation so we can understand what it currently does. I've also asked about getting a address to point at the gateway and Chrisc in sheffield is going to sort out the mail server.

I've also been exploring different approaches to making indymedia web pages available to mobiles and ended up focusing on two. One is a server side proxy which strips out unwanted stuff when people request a page from a mobile device. That's an on-the-fly approach so adds to cpu load on the server and also adds some lag to delivery of pages. The other way is to create a whole new version of the site produced from cut down templates designed specifically for mobile users. I've been developing both of these concepts in parallel as I am not yet sure which is best or most practical and one of them is bound to hits barriers at some point.

So far, I've located two php scripts which can do the transcoding function of the server side proxy and I've ask if they can be installed on an indy server. That's hit a slight barrier as somebody has to check that the scripts at secure. I've found a coder called joe on irc.indy who offered to do that. It would still require a php coder to modify the scripts to our specific needs (ie. strip out section of pages based on regular expressions or style sheets).

Meanwhile, I've spoken to zapata, the main developer of the MIR CMS used by indy UK, about the other approach and he seems to be happy to write the producers that would take templates provided by us and generate mobile specific pages for every article. He is very busy and it might be difficult to pin him down. Nether-the-less, I have started to look at the existing templates and think about the required changes. The templates are in something known as free marker which is quite simple (at least I think I have got my head around it).

Either of the two approaches in generating mobile specific pages will require the same considerations in terms of final design/layout delivered to the mobile device. A meeting now would help to ensure plenty of different people views are taken into account and as things are moving quite quickly it would be useful to do this sooner rather than later.

Bring your mobile phones, smartphones, PDAs, tablets etc.



Mock up of mobile site

21.02.2007 05:27

A mock up of one possible design has been placed here...

Single column, header logos or images banners, no background image or colours, navigation menu on each page.

- Homepage:


Display the following comment

  1. Further work to mock up — imob


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