I'm still wrestling with how to do a Meg Portal mobile app (or rather apps for each platform) Huge task. I must reopen discussions with an old friend in Scotland...
Really what would people would be looking for in an app - just delivering News RSS style or apeing what the site can do as a web site doesn't really cut it. I'd like to see something you could use to download portions of data and take them offline into the field with a GPS. I'm currently working on some output to help with an 'online' app.
Posted 02-09-2012 at 16:19
I use iPhone/iPad. What would be useful is a 'near me' feature that uses your geolocation to tell you which sites are around you and then gives the option to download the data. I know Andy doesn't like geocaching but their app does this for geocaches. If you are going to be out of a data source you can download and save info beforehand.
The type of data needed would be position, a brief description and any pertinent directions. There wouldn't be a need for photos or comments but they could be added as extras.
It could be made to be two-way so comments, photos etc could be added on site or when back in data range.
No idea how difficult this would be to accomplish but I think it would be useful.
Posted 02-09-2012 at 17:29
Hello Kelpie, for 'find nearest site to me' most of the code to do this already exists in the Portal - it can be done from the browser / web site - doesn't need an app. I will finish this off and make it known about - thanks for the reminder.
However wrapping up some browser functionality like this in a download and calling it an 'app' may be a quick fix to get us started in the world of apps.
Posted 02-09-2012 at 19:19
Browsers on mobile devices are a bit clunky and some screen real estate is used for the browser. A purpose-built app can do away with the extraneous bits and allow you to concentrate on the content easier. I prefer a purpose built app to a browsed site whenever I have the choice.
On 2012-09-02 17:29, Andy B wrote:
... wrapping up some browser functionality like this in a download and calling it an 'app' may be a quick fix to get us started in the world of apps.
Having an editable browser-app in the field would be a researchers dream, it's true, but if I'm out there East of West Osh-B-Gosh looking at some lump of rock, the only feature I'll reliably have would be the GPS.
Then the dream becomes a nightmare when my edits are not uploaded due to lack of wi-fi or cell-reception.
So a portion of on-board storage must be slaved to these edits for later upload.
I am not well-versed in much of this new stuff, and perhaps some of this is widely self-evident, but it seems to me that any app that targets field work would need to accommodate a potential software limitation.
Posted 02-09-2012 at 23:32
Fair point Kelpie, I'd not considered that. I wonder if such a 'bundle up a web page' quick app making tool exists as I'm damn as not an Apple developer nor wanting to become one.
Pete G it would be great to see some of the content from your two Avebury CD-ROMS see the light of day again, keep them coming.
Feanor, I'd see it as a 'read only' app - don't forget the strengths of pen and paper Our Site Visit log would be he obvious thing to 'mobilise' I suppose. I've always shied away from 'direct from the field' photo updates as the quality would suffer I think.
Posted 02-09-2012 at 23:33
I was talking about this with Neil Mortimor while we were stomping around Dartmoor looking for obscure stone rows this year.
We thought it would be good to have a geolocation feature but can see the real dangers on places like Dartmoor where the shortest route could lead you into real trouble.
Posted 03-09-2012 at 12:26
Have been thinking about this when wonder across Dartmoor or any where in Scotland. The Signal for phone's just isn't strong enough at the moment, it would be nice has l done have enough money for a GPS and l sure a few people don't ether. l do prefer to cross reference these sites with the portal, google earth and a map and compass before l go to any of these sites.
Being a Blackberry user and the best app l find to link all the sites around me if l have got a strong enough signal is called WIKITUDE, look under Categories and go to history once you click on this the Portal comes up with the nearest sites around you, very useful. Hope this helps
I don't remember giving Wikitude permission to slurp up all our data like that (but I will have to check) - that's certainly not an icon I recognise and I'm not the 'author' in a strict sense. What do they have stored?
That might explain the source of some other people who have been using our data... Anyway this isn't all bad as it could give us a way of getting us into mobile apps without me having to do very much as long as the data summary is properly displayed by them and not over used.
Myself and a collaborator are working on an API which provides XML information for mobile apps at the moment...
This brings us on to a wider issue of what data we can reasonably offer to apps for offline download and use. This was not envisaged when we started with people uploading their information here and I can't retrospectively go back and ask permission from all the contributors to do this. So it comes down to what it is 'reasonable' to offer as brief summary information - it's a trade off between respecting individual contributor's copyright and the positive benefits of having apps that could work offline.
I have usually taken this to be a low quality image thumbnail and a short extract of the page text (ie what we send out to Google Earth as KML which is already used offline)
Posted 03-09-2012 at 20:49
On said website its called Megalithic World same colour with slightly different back drop and has your name on it. That's what made me think it was the portal's, you may want to take a look.
Posted 04-09-2012 at 13:12
Thanks Caradoc, I'll have more of a look.
I've been trying some ideas with Richard P to provide data out to a mobile app, he's got a working prototype he's kindly given a peek at below. This is for Windows mobile but the same concepts could be applied to other platforms.
Feedback very welcome on this, we'll keep you posted.
As I've been discussing with Richard, another problem with offline apps is you'd need access to suitable offline maps and it all gets rather complicated. I have tried some offline maps on my Android smartphone but I kept running out of memory, it's pretty heavy going stuff for your average phone. All ideas welcome...
[ This message was edited by: Andy B on 2012-09-04 13:14 ]
Posted 05-09-2012 at 16:53
I've added support for locally saving and loading site information that has been downloaded from the main server. Means theres lo need to keep logging into the server when out in the field, but still dependent on the map control having cached images of the area being viewed.
Posted 05-09-2012 at 18:57
Andy, I have tried using my mobile while out & about - main drawback I have found is the amount of material the Portal tries to transmit, making things too slow to be worth it.
By way of example, on my mobile I can normally get some sort of signal at some time during a walk & can therefore get on line for a short time - so it would be great to be able to download a page/list of nearby sites which I could then read even if the signal goes.
Problem I often have when using the geolocation feature to see which Portal site is the nearest is having to wait for the phone to download all the maps etc for the nearest location - until this has been received I can't scroll down to the list of nearby sites. I have tried turning these off on the mobile, but they don't stay turned off next time I log on.
Is there any way yet of the mobile log-on creating a default setting of maps etc being off unless turned on? That, combined with the ability to have a page cached for reading even if signal goes, might make it worth trying to log on to Portal when up on hills.
Posted 07-09-2012 at 16:08
PAB, yes my thoughts too - we need to further simplify the mobile version and add a link to the full page, I'll get onto that. Also the updates needed for Richard's app - I've been tied up getting an email newsletter out due to this weekend's events along with Scottish Archaeology month.
Posted 22-09-2012 at 22:19
Andy, I have used my Android as much as possible while in Anglesey over the last couple of weeks - signal often bit temperamental so needed not to be on too long to be on Portal etc.
Biggest problem was waiting for 'peripheral' stuff to load before losing connection, and not getting to what I wanted during this time.
As to what I wanted (and this may be different for others) - a quick look at what was nearby & how far away & in which direction.
For this, the most useful feature is the list/text & Grid Ref of the nearest location featured on Portal, together with the list & similar details of other locations. Unfortunately, to get to this list, I have to scroll down below the maps - this can take ages while in poor reception areas.
So - main suggestion: have the default status for the mobile (& extralite) mode being for the maps etc not being displayed, but easily viewable if need & signal strength make this what I want. The 'switch' for showing/hiding the distractions certainly needs to appear before the maps - bit irritating to have to wait for them to load before I can say I don't want them!
This was all true whether I had searched for a particular site & wanted to 'look around', and also when I used the geo-location feature to see what was nearby. In the latter case, I was often in poor signal locations, so simply gave up using the feature after trying a few times & losing data connection before getting the information I wanted.
Particularly annoying incidentally to be spending time waiting for lots of images (including the Geograph ones which are not necessarily of the site anyway), when it is the list I am after.
Sorry to go to such length - but hopefully the level of detail will help you getting this bit even more useful..
For mobile & extralite, perhaps the main image could be shown, with just the list & links for the others available if needed - great to have them on the normal mode, but not needed up on the hills.