Smartphone App: Version 0.2

screenshot mobile: list of usersWith some delay but still in time before the presentation in Myanmar (Burma), we are able to announce the version 0.2. Although it is in beta and many features on our wish list are still pending, the app provides now all basic functions and even exceeds in some points the initial plans.

The app is not yet available as public download but if you like to check it out we ask you to contact us.

Our testers can find the changes on the changelog.

 

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Updates from the Smartphone App

It has been long time silent around the app – mainly due to the fact that the production was entirely outsourced and our in-house contribution restricted to necessary adjustments to the API. In mid-October, however, we received the final base package and the code from the developer so that we can now pick up from here and go ahead with the work. This concerns mainly the layout, but also some bugs and features.

Particularly the languages are still causing headaches: The Burmese language is officially supported only since Android 5.0 and in earlier versions the font doesn’t render properly on buttons. Android also seems to have a problem with “commercially-not-so-important” languages by limiting their codes to two letters.

While we are working on a solution, we present you some screenshots from the current development version:

If you would like to help us testing, you are very welcome to get involved!

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Version 0.11: Mobile API Speed and Bug Fixes

This version has been lingering in the queue for quite a while. Most of the changes won’t be immediately visible to users. For this blog I pick one that exemplifies the priorities of the upcoming mobile app:

Testers inside Burma (Myanmar) have reported that downloading the initial data to the app still takes considerable time. This will need to be addressed by an improved download mechanism, including lazy loading. Since the development version of the mobile app can now determine the network speed, we are also able to transfer different image sizes depending on the connection quality.

The avatar sizes of the fictional user Ma Lay, for example, are:

  • 12.1 KiB for the full-size avatar
  • 2.1 KiB for the large icon
  • 1.4 KiB for the small icon

On the list view, the API therefore delivers on slow networks the small (instead of the large) icon and on the detail view the large icon (instead of the full-size avatar). For our sample deployment, this reduces the amount of data for the list view from around 59 KiB to 30 KiB, which amounts to roughly 50%. This ratio results from the fact that images make up the main part of the volume. For the detail page, the difference is 14 KiB versus 4 KiB – reducing the volume by about two third, as a rule of thumb.

These amounts seem negligible to us who are used to have a fast connection but they appear to be relevant on networks that allow just a trickle of data.

Looking at the trade-off in terms of image degradation, the difference becomes particularly visible on larger images:

Note that the image quality loss has not been caused by a different JPEG compression ratio, but by enlarging an undersized image. Using a different compression would mean additional work for the API, while simply delivering a different image size can be done from resources that are already available.

Find the code at GitHub and the changelog at the mycitizen.net docs.

 

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Version 0.8: Closing Gaps in Usability

We have just released version 0.8 of mycitizen.net.

Recent changes include a check to prevent identical subsequent messages in chats. Particularly users in Myanmar (Burma) have often accidentally sent the same message multiple times because an extremely slow Internet connection has delayed the delivery. In another response to in-the-field test results, we have added a dialog window to make sure you don’t accidentally navigate away from a page while you are writing a message.

screenshot-filter-criteriaThe most visible change is probably the filter button that – when filtering is active – displays the applied criteria directly on top of the listings. While browsing the filtered list of items, you, therefore, see immediately how this selection was created.

Further additions allow you to refer in messages to other users, groups or resources by using their IDs prepended by @1. The same symbol can be used to trigger a search, while searching by tags is done with #. Read more about it in the user manual or see yourself on the demo.

Behind the scenes we are still working on the mobile app. And if you are interested to read about the story of mycitizen.net, proceed to the article published by the Ethnos Project

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Design of the Mobile App

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While we continue working on the web software, preparing the next release, we focus our main efforts on the mobile application. It is still a long way to go but you can already get an idea of the direction.  

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Design, Mobile App and Video

mobile-jane-doe-locationSince spring we are working on three parts of the project:

  1. the mobile app of mycitizen.net
  2. the design of the user interface of the web-based part
  3. a video that will explain the purpose of mycitizen.net

While the first two tasks are being outsourced as regular parts of the project, the video will be provided by a volunteer.

We will keep you updated.

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