SDN on a mobile device…
During the BOF session “Co-Innovation using SDN/BPX or ES Community. What is currently possible, what should be added …” which Mark gave in Melbourne Matt Harding showed us how SDN looked on his Motorola. While you could browse the site it was hardly usable. The biggest problem was the frame which is wrapped around every blog post and just takes up too much space.
We all discussed what you could do by using RSS feeds and other things and I offered to build a prototype. In the next few paragraphs I want to show you what is currently possible with the services SDN offers. I also want to share some things which annoyed me during the development. At last I have a look at how SDN could become more attractive for third party developers.
The mobile version
The iPhone shows us how nice normal websites can look on a smartphone however it is still much nicer to use an optimised version. Therefore my goals for the mobile version were:
- Maximum width 320px (that is the standard iPhone size)
- Only display content which matters
- Dead simple to use
- No large graphics to speed up download times
- As few links as possible to improve navigation
As mentioned before this is only a prototype. It clearly lacks some features. The biggest problem at the moment is that you can only see the last ten posts.
What annoyed me…
There were a few things which annoyed me during the development. First of all why does the feed contain additional links in the description?
In my opinion a xml feed should be design and feature neutral. Not everybody wants those links. It seems that at the moment the feed is only targeted for feed readers but not for developers who want to build mashups. Fortunately you can easily remove those links with some CSS magic.
When I finished working on the main feed I had the idea to make the site compatible with the feeds for all sub categories. This would have been a walk in the park if all feeds on SDN use the same format…
It turned out that the main feed is an RSS feed and the feeds for the sub categories are ATOM feeds. So I decided to drop that feature for now. I would suggest to use one standard for all feeds. Maybe feedburner is already able to do that or offer both a RSS and a ATOM version.
At the moment SDN cannot be called a platform. Craig already wrote a SCN a platform? about this topic and based on the responses I am not sure if it’s worth the effort to convert SDN into one. However a fully service enabled SDN would allow the community to offer features for which the offical development team might not have the time. Its quite impressive how fast developers wrote new versions of popular websites like Flickr specifically for the iPhone (Flickr is fully service enabled). There is just no better way to leverage the community.
The right services
What I would like to have is a fully REST enabled weblog area. This means it should be possible not only to receive the latest blogs as an RSS feed but also to get a blog itself as an XML document. It should also be possible to identify authors and categories via their unique identifiers instead of strings. But the most important feature is a service enabled search. So you could easily search for weblogs while you are on a train for example (The REST api for Yahoo Search could be a workaround…).
While a fully service enabled SDN would be a nice thing to have it will not happen overnight. However it should be possible to extend the current feeds with more useful data like the id of the blog author and similar identifiers. In the end the community has to decide what is important or not.
If you want to have a look at my mobile version of SDN click here. Please be advised that for bandwidth reasons I cache every blog post and currently do not check for updates. So do not be surprised if comments are missing. As mentioned before it is only a prototype and I do not know how long I will host it. But if it is available feel free to use it 😉