The second generation of OSNews’ mobile web site is now up and running. The new version has an even simpler design than before which makes it much easier to render on under-featured HTML browsers, usually found on phones, PDAs or other embedded devices. The new design does not display any ads or a sidebar, but goes directly to the “meat” of the information. Read more for info & screenshots. What’s great about the new mobile version is that the whole OSNews data is offered, we don’t cut-out data selectively or only provide a simple special page for mobile devices, but the whole range of functionality and web pages are available (except Phorum and the OS Resources page), fully supported on any device that sports resolution… 120×100 or above! “Fully supported” means that –normally– no horizontal scrollbars will show on your device making the experience smooth. Other requirements are the ability of the browser to render up to 32KB of webpage size.
Readers with a mobile/textmode device don’t have to target a special URL to get the mobile pages. OSNews will autodetect their browser (provided you haven’t change your browser’s ‘user agent’) and will serve the “right” pages. This service does not have any ads and it is completely free (although we might add a text-ad per page in the future, usually small text ads are not bigger than 400 bytes).
The new version correctly detects a large number of browsers, like the following:
PDAs: WebPro, NetFront, WebBrowser, Pocket IE, Blazer, BlackBerry, Xiino, ftxPBrowser, AvantGo (create custom OSNews channel on your my.avantgo.com), iSilo, Plucker, Sunrise, JPluck (special OSNews .jxl file for use with JPluck), Elaine, EudoraWeb, EPOC, Opera for Zaurus and more.
Phones: OpenWave UP.Browser, AU, Nokia, Danger HipTop/SideKick, SonyEricsson, J-PHONE, DoCoMo, portalmmm i-Mode, Opera for Symbian, ReqwirelessWeb etc
Text Mode: Lynx, Links, ELinks, w3m, ALynx.
Embeded: Windows CE, Embeddix, WebTV, Dreamcast & SONY PS2 browser, QNX Voyager.
Other: Amiga AWeb & Voyager, a handful of Atari ST browsers, Cyberdog, OmniWeb & WorldWideWeb for NeXTSTEP, Contiki for C64, some RISC OS & GeOS ones, NCSA Mosaic, HotJava (pre-3.0) etc. and any browser reporting common resolutions below 640×480.
Sadly, all the pre-G3 J-PHONE phones (mostly in Japan and some in Europe) have a quota of 12KBs per page and they completely refuse to load a page that’s more than 12KB, this is why all J-PHONE users will be redirected automatically to an even lighter version of OSNews — a list of 15 headlines will be available and you will have to click through to each of them in order to read the actual news item. We will lift this limitation off J-PHONEs around 2005 or 2006, when all J-PHONE phones will be true G3s and won’t have this (silly) 12KB quota.
Also, (non-Opera) SonyEricsson browsers will be automatically redirected to the same special J-PHONE page as above, because the stock SonyEricsson browser is truly incapable and it errors out when it hits the normal mobile pages.
Additionally, all phone users that use OpenWave’s browser –found in more than 50% of phones out there– UP.Browser versions 4 and 5 will be automatically redirected to our WAP page (only versions 6 and 7 of the Openwave browser are HTML-capable and can render our normal mobile pages).
Surely, some users will rush to change their browser’s user agent to match one of the above ones in order to get ad-free mobile version of OSNews, but please note that while this design looks functional and lovely on a small screen device, it just looks crappy on a desktop browser with resolution 640×480 or above. Readers who would like to get rid of the ads on OSNews and get a 4x faster layout (very noticable on 56k modem) they should consider the subscribed version of OSNews for $20 per year. A static, sample page, of the subscribed version of OSNews can be seen here.
We are looking for feedback and screenshots from your device or your simulators/emulators if you have some! We are of course looking for bugs (pages not rendering right etc) and if you do have an HTML browser that belongs in the mobile/textmode/old-OS realm and it does not load the right version of OSNews (if for example you get the ads and the sidebar), please let us know about it. Visit this page with your device and email us with the exact text string that will show up in that page (case sensitively please). This text string is the “user agent” your browser is reporting to a web server, and webmasters can use this information in order to redirect browsers to the right content.
OSNews already offers WAP services by providing the 10 latest news items, while our RDF xml feed has seen an update recently: we added a “date” field and full “teaser” text support.
I have always appreciated OSnews’s mobile version, it’s great for reading on PDAs. The new version seems nice, too.
I do have to say though that perhaps a little more distinction between stories would be nice. The old one was a little more clear when stories began and ended (on the home page). This made it easier to quickly scroll through the list and scan the stories.
Yes, this is because I took out the BORDER=1 from the news story tables, because the textmode browsers were looking very “boxy” if I had the borders ON and don’t wanna do a yet different version for textmode browsers (for simplicity sake . I don’t believe this will be a major problem with small screen devices though.
I might turn on the borders back on though if the color version of AvantGO doesn’t look good. If anyone has a screenshot of his/her color Palm with Avantgo rendering the new osnews, please send it over for me to check it out. My Palm is a PalmV and so it is not color. The PalmOS simulator is a bit of a pain to use with installed conduits like AvantGO and synchronize so I can’t use it in this case.
Why there is no content for WAP pages?
Because of major incompatibilities between WAP browsers.
There is just not a way to make sure that a WAP page that has a bit of content will even load on many (buggy) phones. It is just too risky with the current situation, so we decided to take the most simple design, just a few tags that are known to work across most phones, and only provide minimal information (just the 15 latest headlines). As many in the phone industry say, WAP sucks, and now there is proof for it: http://www.kiskeya.net/ramon/quotes/wapsucks.html 🙂
With AvantGo for Palm it’s posible to ‘sync’ a page for offline use. With al linkdepth of one it will not only cache the article but also the printer friendly version. It’s not very common to connect a palm to a printer so it’s mostly useless to cache the printer friendly version. Some articles are split into 4 pages. I can only read the first page (remember the linkdepth) of such articles. The solution is to read the cached priter friendly version.
The solution is to only provide printer friendly (read one page) versions of articles to mobile users to keep the cache and required linklevel low.
Actually this is not a good idea. This would only be a good idea for textmode browsers on fast PCs and “advanced” PDA browsers (more than 4 MB of FLASH etc).
But on phones, this would mean browser crashes or “out of memory” errors.
Just now I was talking via email to a japanese osnews reader who can’t get his J-PHONE to render the whole frontpage of osnews because of memory problems (after lots of emails, he finally read in his manual that only HTML pages up to 12 KB will be rendered!). While most “normal” phones today (not smartphones) will be able to manage up to 35 KB of HTML rendering, putting a big multi-page article in a single page, it will just kill compatibility with these phones.
> It’s not very common to connect a palm to a printer so it’s mostly useless to cache the printer friendly version.
I disagree. If it does the job for you (instead of cashing a story.php with a multipage article), just cache the printer one instead.
Doing a mobile site that is as “full” in fucntionality as the osnews one, it has a lot of “gotchas” that desktop web developers would never consider under normal circumstances. “Fixing” one kind of these browsers completely undermines the others. I tried to find a balance when designing the new site.
Eugenia, my only nitpick with the design of the site is all the empty space. I would like the main table to be width=98-100% and it seems to be, like 85-90%.
Please tell me what device/browser you got (helper: http://www.osnews.com/ua.php).
FYI, all tables on osnews-mobile have width of 100%. If one of the supported mobile browser doesn’t do that, is its bug or it just doesn’t support percentages in table widths.
Congratulations on the new pda site. I actually use my palm to read OSNews quite often, and the site looks excellent on my Palm T3 in both portrait and landscape views using Web Pro. I much prefer using a browser to avantgo, which doesn’t offer extended screen views.
> Actually this is not a good idea. This would only be
> a good idea for textmode browsers on fast PCs and
> “advanced” PDA browsers (more than 4 MB of FLASH etc).
I’m using a Palm Zire with 2MB storage for the OS, browser, ebooks and websites.
> But on phones, this would mean browser crashes or “out
> of memory” errors.
I get the point.
> putting a big multi-page article in a single page, it
> will just kill compatibility with these phones.
But now it kills compatibility with pda’s and other offline readers.
> It’s not very common to connect a palm to a printer so it’s mostly useless to cache the printer friendly version.
> If it does the job for you just cache the printer one
Maybe it’s a good idea to add a cache friendly mode to the mobile version. (some quirck line mobile.php?cachefriendly=true)
> Doing a mobile site that is as “full” in fucntionality as
> the osnews one, it has a lot of “gotchas” that desktop web > developers would never consider under normal
> circumstances. “Fixing” one kind of these browsers
> completely undermines the others. I tried to find a
> balance when designing the new site.
I know. I really like the beatifull KISS layout of both the desktop and mobile version of OSNews. It just works and looks great and renders fast.
Thank you very much!
I can’t believe all the platforms that osnews can support. Great job. I even learned about other forms of browsers like those text based ones. Oh the good old days of text and command lines !!!! LOL. Getting old man, old.
I want to commend OS-News for the good job they did with their mobile pages. I changed the user agent on Firefox to Lynx running under TRS-DOS to access them. Contrary to what the article said, they don’t look like crap on displays over 640×480. I think they look better that the more complex, normal pages. Simplicity remains a virtue. Nice job!
I own an imode phone (DoCoMo).
I live in belgium, where base is the de facto provider for the imode service.
Here is the exact output from ua.php.
hope this helps…
I don’t own any sort of PDA, but its nice to know the site I read most often is more than readable on just about anything (Wish the WAP version could be expanded on a bit, but I understand your point that WAP just don’t work well accross phones).
I remeber using google on WAP to load the main html page on it just to read more than the headlines on holiday last year, on a Nokia 6210 i must be obsessed
> Maybe it’s a good idea to add a cache friendly mode to the mobile version. (some quirck line mobile.php?cachefriendly=true)
I could bring back the “read story in a single page” link, only for the mobile browsers. I took this feature out of the desktop osnews version a year ago because sites were keep linking to that one…
I just bought a PDA yesterday, HP iPAQ 4355 and went to OSNEWS on it a second ago, saw the story, and laughed.Site looks great on it.
Keep up the good work!
This is what I have always loved about this site,no matter how I access it it just works,Be it on Net+ in BeOS,the imbedded QNX browser on my 3com Audrey,The imbedded Browser on my Alcatel WebtouchOne Phone,or Dillo,Links or whatever in Linux.I’m a big fan of liteweight browsers and I think much stuff is way overdone on most sited,and out here in the perrimeter where I live and dialup is the only way to access the net a person wants a fast liteweight browser to speed up the process and doesnt want to compound things by using a huge slow bloated mess like IE or Mozilla,so this makes it better even on the desktop for me because I can use one of the stripped down or text based alternatives to come here,and not have to wait for a bunch of java or flash powered crap to load
Ok guys, BORDER=1 is back on tables for better readability and the “printer-friendly” page is now fully compatible with the mobile browsers (we are not denying the page –as we do in the desktop version of osnews– if the REFERER environmental variable is not set, which is something common on phones
I’de be interested by minimo screen schots .
At least one page on the internet which looks out for their mobile users. Thought I didn’t know it works even on my DoCo
Mo (P504iS), it always looks very cool on my Zaurus. The only thing I miss in the new versions are the little icons for articles. Is it possible to mark it with Text, or Something so you know to which group the article belongs?
*sigh* I wished other pages (slashdot, newsforge, my local newspaper, etc) had also so cool pda/mobile phone webpages.
and if my stupid digi cam battiers wouldn’t be empty right now I’d post screenshots from my mobile gadgets showing osnews
> The only thing I miss in the new versions are the little icons for “related articles”. Is it possible to mark it with Text, or Something so you know to which group the article belongs?
This feature still exists, it just doesn’t have a different icon for each story (to save bandwidth)!
It is the fourth icon (the one that looks like a pile of documents) in the row of little 16×16 icons, as seen here for example: http://www.osnews.com/img/6146/ppc2.png
Just tried it with my Dreamcast.
Your au.php says: