[OpenLayers-Dev] OpenLayers for Mobile devices

Bob Basques Bob.Basques at ci.stpaul.mn.us
Thu Dec 23 10:14:10 EST 2010


I'm old school in all this, so my ideas about a generic approach to things will likely seem old fashioned. 

My first stab at putting together a gesture based interface would be to use some sort of control overlay in the map area.  This is mostly to provide instant feedback to the users more than anything. 

Some important points (I think): 

** Symbols for zooming in (+) and out (-) that are right on the map it self. This might actually be considered a failsafe mode, where all other modes don't work for a device, and would use essentially existing capabilities as far as user controls go in a mapping environment.  Dragging seems to be a universal capability (so far), that can be implemented on (nearly) all devices. 

** Some sort of (fairly comprehensive) device type detection (or user setup control for a device type) will need to be in place. 

** With the building of a "failsafe" mode, and making it always available, the process of adding the gesture aspects seem to fall into the category of add-on.  As an aside here, with the advent of Netbook / Tablet devices becoming more prevalent, there may be some room here to add in some key-macro navigation tools as well as an optional navigation toolset, but this is likely only interesting to myself.  But if this type of approach of allowing for more than one type of navigation toolset were used, I think the different platform specifics can be more easily approached.   Am I talking about a navigation conduit here?  Something that is standardized in some form, that many different types of navigation tools could be developed against?  There are certain work processes that might require direct access to a navigation tool in a very specific manner for example, that a framework like this might help with during the development. 

** Associated with the navigation are layer choosers of some sort.  Displaying many layer option (or even many of anything) is a problem on a smaller form factor device.  I think this is an associated and just as important aspect of the gesture controls (for mapping) as is the navigation.  While most map based solutions may only present a few layers to the end user, I have systems in place that have hundreds of layers available, and it's very difficult to present this type of information to the typical user, let alone ones you might have the option of doing a little one on one training with. 

I would prefer to use a common set of code to accomplish this all with some sort of auto-detection of device on the client side.  The gestures themselves seem to be varied in their implementation across vendor products to one degree or another.  Is there room here for some sort of user settings/preferences (like in a desktop application) where the user can decide (based on the device capabilities) what gestures can be enabled. There could be defaults for known devices. 


>>> Benoit Quartier <benoit.quartier at camptocamp.com> wrote:


On Tue, Dec 21, 2010 at 5:40 PM, Bob Basques <Bob.Basques at ci.stpaul.mn.us> wrote:


I couldn't get the zooming to work at all on the N900. But I don't count that as a fault. 

I understand the complexities here, especially with regard to the multi-touch aspects vs single touch enabled devices. I think that in the near term the gesture aspects are going to NEED to be targeted at vendor specifics in order to take full advantage of each of them. Hopefully this will flesh out to a standard from the best available, but, in the near term, I'm interested in seeing a process that works for single touch (Could be all phone/mobile devices??) as a foundational chunk of coding. Hopefully this approach would get as many functional mobile devices accounted for as possible. Then it makes sense to attack the vendor specific (extra) capabilities. It seems to be easier to design for the masses where possible (from my experience), and then to enhance for the specialties, don't you think? 

Yes, I fully agree. That's why we didn't begin with Apple gestures. But as you wrote, in the near term, we will need to implement these vendor specifics gestures.

It would be great to have a set of single touch events that works on all (as much as possible) devices and, additionally, a set of vendor specific gesture. What would they be? Double tap to zoom in, triple tap to zoom out?

I think there are options available for addressing these ideas, if anyone else is interested. 

I am interested but I am not sure to understand what you mean? Could you please elaborate?

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