Nokia mobile theme for Drupal released

After many hours of work spread over a couple of months, I have finally released the first version of the Nokia Mobile Theme on drupal.org.

The theme is really a theme on steroids! While normally it should just deal with printing out to screen a few tags and content, in my case I had to add a number of functions for device detection. We wanted to be able to distinguish between a basic mobile device and a high-end one, plus we laid down the foundations for a mid-end presentation. Since the Mobile Plugin did not provide the level of detail that I needed, I had to create my own functions that at this stage are mostly overriding what the plugin does. A lot of the experience made with the WordPress Mobile Pack was put to good use, fortunately.

You can check out the official project page to download the files. Also, check out the handbook page for installation details and if you feel too lazy to read, why not look at the video tutorial?

The work is not over, the plugin is good, but I think it could do better and for this reason I’ve teamed up with the author, Teemu, and we will release some interesting updates such as a new light detection and some extra extensibility that should allow template designers to have more freedom.

Feedback is very welcome, of course, either here or on the Drupal site.

Nokia mobile theme for Drupal demo

In an effort to show what you can achieve with the nokia_mobile theme that (hopefully) will be released shortly, I set up a small demo site with some dummy content. You can visit the site with your mobile device at dtest.dreamhosters.com. Don’t hold your breath, it’s dummy content, but the device detection and how the theme adapts based on the device capabilities should be evident.

The Mobile Plugin normally uses a PHP implementation of the WURFL API, unfortunately on a cheap hosting service (I bought dreamhost’s CHEAPEST possible offer on purpose) this crashes the server. So for this demo I started implementing what is in my view the next step, a very basic device detection that will enable site owners to decide what they want to do. If they have a lot of content optimised for different devices, they should pick WURFL and use the advanced rules settings available in the plugin, on the other hand, if they want a basic detetion and provide just two or three layouts, a simple detection should be more than enough. With the current demo version, no cache files are generated and the detection is instant. I would like to make this part of Mobile Plugin, eventually and better integrate the device classification that I built in the nokia_mobile theme.

More on device classification in the next days.

Drupal + Nokia templates = GREAT mobile theme

Nokia has always had great resources for developers and designers and I am very pleased to note that they keep being ahead of the competition. Forum Nokia recently released some nice templates to help inspire designers and also make it easier for new comers to get started. This is all great, but what about the site owners? Creating a mobile presentation for their sites isn’t THAT easy. So, which are the most popular Open Source CMS platforms? Easily said, Drupal and WordPress.

Here I am today showing you a fully functional preview of a nice mobile theme that I designed based on the official Nokia templates. It comes with two design implementations one for low-end devices (will work on all Nokia devices, but should be good for any XHTML-capable browser) and one for high-end devices such a Series 60 (Symbian) and Maemo, but also iPhone, Palm Pre and Android – all running webKit!
Also, we have provided buttons and images in 4 different colours so you can personalise your design easily via the standard theme configuration menus.

The theme relies on an existing Drupal module called Mobile Plugin, so you will need to isntall that along with the plugin.

What should you do with this theme? Well, if you are lazy and all you want is to turn your Drupal site into a mobile-friendly site, just install the plugin and the theme and all your mobile visitors should be very pleased. On the other hand, if you agree with me that mobile is the future and that it’s the most exciting thing happening in technology today, what you should do is download the templates and see how you can further extend the theme and make it better and more the way you like it.

The project is Open Source and should very soon appear on drupal.org, so you are more than welcome to send feedback and improvements. In the meantime you can download a preview.

PS: If you use WordPress you might want to take a look at the WordPress Mobile Pack that has just implemented the same templates!

DISCLAIMER: This project was kindly sponsored by Forum Nokia

UPDATE: link to the preview has been removed, see the official project page for the final release.

Maps and navigation innovation

For quite a few years in-car navigation has been a very good business. Companies kept improving their hardware and selling every other year (if not within a year) a new device to their customers. I am talking about the navigation systems like TomTom and Garmin, not those that you buy integrated in your car, of course.

The interface had, over the years, small improvements and refinements, but hardly any major change. While Garmin was the leader up to 5 or 6 years ago, at least in Europe TomTom has taken a clear lead both in pricing and UI. Some might argue Garmin has better accuracy, but it’s not SOO much better, in my opinion. Companies like Navigon have tried some innovation, but they haven’t conquered enough market share, at least until now.

Then mobile devices entered the game. It happened in various small steps like the introduction of GPS chips and Nokia’s acquisition of NAVTEQ.
Also, Apple has proven that people LOVE maps on their phones and need something that is not necessarily a navigation system while driving. See for example slides 5 and 11 from this great presentation by Skyhook (the technology providers for location services on iPhones and other devices).

Nokia has come with some interesting application, service and business model, see the Ovi Maps and these 2 demo videos. It is very interesting, it is definitely going to hit Garmin and TomTom, but it’s still a paid service, so it will not kill the other businesses.

Apple has quitely acquired a company called Placebase. This confirms the interest of mobile device makers in location and maps services (and probably also adds to the current Google-Apple competition). Obviously, relying on Google’s Maps wasn’t good enough for Apple, hence expect some innovation here. It will have to be seen what they can achieve when competing with Nokia’s technology acquired from NAVTEQ and Google, it cannot be just eyecandy.

Now comes in Google with Android 2 and the new maps service. There’s a good quick look from TechCrunch, Google Redefines GPS Navigation Landscape: Google Maps Navigation For Android 2.0. Google’s service is going to be free to use and comes in an Open Source OS. Not only, it comes with some very interesting innovation in the UI and service such as the use of Street View, the ability to search for Points of Interest on your route and traffic alerts. Yes, points of interest have been there for a while, but how good are they? It doesn’t seem to me like they can be compared with Google Maps on the web. I expect this on-device service to be as good.

OpenStreetMap proves that you can create a good map with crowd sourcing and if Google is going to be in millions of phones within next year, it will not be hard to add a small button that makes you share “anonymous” data to Google so that they can track a lot of information with minimal effort (it’s not hard to guess there’s a motorway when you’re traveling at 150km/h on a straight line).

What is the future of companies like TomTom, Garmin, or even those that sold maps? Who can provide the level of detail that Google will have?

Nokia Mobile Web templates competition

For some reason I must have missed that there was yet another competition at Forum Nokia. The guys are really working hard on helping the community and giving good reasons to developers and designers to create great content for Nokia devices.

It’s almost over, but if you know how to do it, you might still make it before the deadline on Oct, 31st. See the details of the competition on their Wiki, Wiki mobile web templates contest instructions.

Best of luck!