lib cluster availability

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Note...

This is the help file for the experimental beta iphone-website page:
<http://library.brown.edu/services/clusters/lib_mobile/>

Know that it's not our intention to privilege the iphone over other mobile devices. One of our programmers who has an iphone, on his own time, wanting to learn about mobile and iphone-web programming as well as the google-chart-api, put this together.

The appearance, url, and content of this page will definitely change over time. But in the meantime it's being made available because it might be quite useful the the community in its current beta form.

Meanwhile the Library is proceeding with plans for many mobile services that will support a range of mobile devices.

Some initial visioning of library mobile services:
<https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/library/Mobile+User+Access>

Feel free to offer your suggestions on this experimental web-app, or for other Library mobile services:
<libweb@brown.edu>


Notes from the programmer...

The appearance comes from one of the m.mit.edu iphone pages[1] (they're all impressively beautiful). I wanted to learn the techniques of making an iphone web-app that's both beautiful and functional, and am repurposing the mit page to show library cluster availability.

  • Green means 'available'; red means 'in use'.
  • The number next to the cluster name indicates the number of available computers.
  • Tapping the one of the 'lines' near the bottom with a phone icon on the right will offer to initiate a call.
  • Tapping one of the cluster-name/pie-chart lines will show a larger pie-chart, which in the future could also show breakdown via OS.
  • Different pieces of data are cached, but no information should be older than about a minute and a half.
  • This webapp utilizes the Library cluster availaibility API, the Library hours API, and the Google Chart API.

Enjoy!

[1] If you access MIT's mobile site via a desktop browser, you won't see what the mobile site really looks like. FYI, their mobile site has three 'skins': one for 'dumb phones', one for 'smart phones', and one for the iphone, which is responsible for the majority of their mobile usage.


Known possible improvements...

This was a volunteer learning project and it's expected that there won't be many improvements to this web-app until it's folded into coming official Library mobile services. But we welcome suggestions! Send them either to <birkin_diana@brown.edu>, or to <libweb@brown.edu>.

  • Once in a while the 'Overall' counts may be slightly different from the relevant aggregated cluster counts. This is because of the way different data elements are cached and may be improved in the future. (See grad-cluster issue below.)
  • It'd be nice to AJAX-ify the updates instead of having the page refresh.
  • Opening/closing times for clusters could be added.
  • It would be nice to offer a preference to 'hide' the Rock's grad-cluster information for those for whom it's irrelevant and possibly even a tease (i.e. if there are grad-cluster openings when other clusters are full). Update: this has been implemented, but needs a bit more work – the 'Overall' count still includes the grad-cluster computers, even when they're hidden.
  • It might be nice to 'grey-out' clusters that are closed.
  • It would be nice if this help-file was mobile-friendly. Update: a Fall 2009 Confluence update from CIS now auto-detects some mobile browsers, and presents imperfect but much-improved mobile content.


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