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Author Topic: The iPhone SMF Theme Project  (Read 55609 times)
perkiset
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« on: February 11, 2009, 11:42:45 AM »

OK All - after being thoroughly frustrated trying to run my network of forums on my iPhone and with all the started and stopped iPhone theme projects about, I decided to consider authoring an SMF them specifically for the iPhone.

OK, consideration done.

It's a reasonably large project because what I want to do requires a new theme from the ground up. Thus far I've completed technical blueprints, storyboard and proven to myself that the GUI tricks will be efficient and completely doable. My design is 100% CSS with a little JS thrown in, so it will actually move backwards towards the master theme of the board here itself in the future.

In proving things, I found that it was just WAY WAY better to take the SMF files and throw away everything. Heh. So unlike me, eh? I don't think I'm going to need much assistance, but if you're interested I'd love to hear from you. I'd particularly like to have some discussion on needs/wants etc for the theme and functionality. I know what a forum needs, and I know what I want in that tiny little space on my iPhone... but there is a lot of gray matter floating around here that could certainly offer up some interesting tidbits, if you're so inclined.

So that's it - I've posted a similar note on the SMF boards pointing them here, so I'm hoping we'll get some new blood in to look at the concepts as well.

/p
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2009, 01:27:39 PM »

of course i have plenty of opinion to offer.

ideally, allowing some user control would be awesome. like font size, and colors.
but really in the end, just less shit on page.
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perkiset
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2009, 01:55:11 PM »

I'm almost done with the primary format theme file and board index, at which point I'll post pix here so that you can see where I am going. I'll also outline some essential design notions, but at the outset, we're on exactly the same page: way less == efficient clean and easy.

I've also got a little JS/CSS trick up my sleeve that ought to give you some interesting ideas.
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2009, 02:17:26 PM »

I am always interested in tricks. especially if they work.
if you want another set of eyes on it, give me the U/P for the PT account and I will test it out as well and give feedback.

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perkiset
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2009, 02:24:34 PM »

You'll be the first meng.

@ Tricks: No worries meng. Heh - you think I want to brag on tricks that are brittle? I'll be boasting on this one for a while Wink
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2009, 09:29:01 PM »

Today I built the basic framework & essential CSS stuff. It is working great and considerably easier than I had, at first, thought it would be. The real answer to building a theme, come to find out, is to completely outline it yourself and then just write your own SMF handler functions, rather than trying to blend your code into OPC.

Here is The Cache home page, after logging in as me (yes, this is an actual shot of the f'reals them in action):

   

Some points of interest:
  • The top 2 areas are fixed - they do not scroll.
  • These were taken in Safari, not my iPhone - on the iPhone there is no scroll bars in the middle area - so the graphics are cleaner and "finished" on the right. Note that these graphics are just calls via the style sheet, users of this theme will be able to customize it any way that they want to.
  • The only icon you can't see here is the "Calendar" icon because we don't use the calendar feature of SMF here.
  • The 6 icons you can see are Home, Search, PM, Profile, Admin and Logoff.
  • Note the PM icon has a "2" on it, signifying that I have 2 new, unread PMs.
  • The area under the icons is the location panel - it tells you where you are at any given time. Since I was at the home page, the name is what shows in that position.
  • The next area is the tool bar. This area changes with pages to give you (whatever is necessary) for (this page). In this case, you can see the Unread button, which shows unread posts since last visit, All Unread, New Replies to Your Posts and Stats.
  • The Stats button is interesting because it changes "pages" in the current view. It does not go back to the server, but shuts off the DIV with all the boards in it and turns on the DIV with the forum stats in it. Here is a shot after I've pressed the Stats button:



This "paging" mechanism is what I intend to use to keep scrolling to a minimum. My storyboard shows several places where paging is vital, like in Admin for example, where there are just a ton of options - which means there would be no screen real-estate left for functional components.

Speaking of scrolling - the iPhone doesn't immediately make clear how you scroll a scrollable div. You do it with 2 fingers. If you try to normally scroll this page, it does nothing - the page is exactly the size of the iPhone viewport - that's how I keep the header components in place. So to scroll the middle area you simply use two fingers and off you go!

So with the index framework done and the BoardIndex.template.php file completed, it's on to MessageIndex.template.php next. I'll try to get some time tomorrow to at least get that done, at which point I'll make it clear how you can test it as well.

/perk
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 09:35:51 PM by perkiset » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2009, 09:57:53 PM »

holy shit!

that looks

FUCKING
AWESOME
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perkiset
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2009, 10:10:31 PM »

 ROFLMAO

Wow man, thanks! I'm pretty pleased as well, but that just made my night Smiley

As soon as I get the MessageIndex done, I'll let you start at it.

Have a good one and thanks again,
/p
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2009, 10:31:16 PM »

can you make earl install it too... LOL

I really love surfing forums and RSS from either:
the couch watching TV
the table watching ashley eat
the can
waiting in lines
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perkiset
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2009, 09:37:50 PM »

Today's Efforts:

Today I worked over the MessageIndex template. It was better than yesterday, because I'm starting to get the rhythm of the arrays in SMF, as well as understanding the limitations of the iPhone viewport.

Here is this forum, after I clicked on the PHP Discussions thread, then clicked on the "More" button to get to the other options for that page.

        

Any constructive suggestions appreciated!

/p
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2009, 09:57:12 PM »

good solution on the end of thread / start of thread icons.

sort/more is a bit clunky, but an alternate suggestion alludes me.
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perkiset
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2009, 10:10:51 PM »

I thought about putting it in headers, like a normal theme, but there's still a lot of scrolling - and this kind of takes the commands/functions of the message index out of the scroll acreage. I dunno about it either though.

Oh yeah, just though about it a little: note that I don't have columns for the thread starter, last poster, number of views and replies. So I can't put sort options in the header. That's why I went with this method. But I kind of don't like it either.

Looking forward to more discussion on it because it's a ticklish challenge, this tiny little portal.
I suspect I'll go through a few revisions before I call it good to go.

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perkiset
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« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2009, 11:35:19 AM »

Unexpected Benefit: I'm side-by-side testing at the moment - so I had my iPhone looking at this normal theme, then the new iPhone theme... it's just WAY faster. This would clearly be because the HTML shipped out to the client is considerably smaller, and since al the formatting is CSS and defined in the styles page rather than inline in the HTML, the markup time on the phone is faster as well.

It's not going to be just a curiosity IMO - it's going to actually be usable. (duh). Today I'm working on the switch that forces SMF to choose the iPhone theme rather than the stock theme if it's an iphone browsing. The actual switch is easy - but I'm having trouble thinking about all the different ways this switch should be enabled for an SMF admin ... not available at all, available as an admin switch, available as an admin switch to (x) theme for iPhone, allow admin to switch to (x) theme for (this mobile) and (y) theme for that mobile - or pushing the options all the way out to the user, provided the admin allows THAT. Argh.

Any thoughts?
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perkiset
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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2009, 11:46:58 AM »

@ Nutballs -

I have configured the switch to allow you to see the theme on your iPhone. Obviously, it only goes two levels deep so it is useless really, but will allow you to see the essentially look/feel.
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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2009, 01:14:47 PM »

So, you can't just put a workaround "hook" in a script that is called on every page for SMF that says "if he says he's an iphone, override everything else and use this theme"?
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