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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Improved Mobile Widget

Today we pushed out a mobile-specific version of our widget. Our default widget has worked with iPhone/iPod touch since the beginning, but the new one has been designed specifically for mobile devices. We've tested it heavily in the default browser on our Android phone.

The new, mobile-specific widget is prefaced with m., like this:

As with regular LibraryH3lp widgets, you can deck out the appearance of your mobile widget nearly any way you'd like. The easiest thing will be to use the Widget Designer in the admin site to create a custom skin using your preferred colors, title, etc... Then, after you generate the code, look for the raw widget URL (as above) and place the m. at the beginning. Of course, you can also customize your widget by hand if you prefer, as described in the Widget Customization section in the docs (the default mobile CSS is here).

Mobile technologies offer more flexibility for people on the go. Busy people like your patrons probably already IM you or text you from their phones; our IM and SMS gateways make answering those questions easier. Now, they can chat you more easily from your mobile website. And if you're so inclined, you can even staff your service from your phone now that librarians can use any XMPP client at all. (Please don't LibraryH3lp and drive.) Have fun!


Amanda said...

I have been trying to get this to work on a blackberry- with no success. Any suggestions!? Thanks!
-Amanda (Columbia University)

Pam Sessoms said...

Hi Amanda,

We don't have a Blackberry to test on, but I'm trying to download an emulator. It's tricky though, it looks like the web browser may vary a lot based on the specific model of Blackberry. I don't know how standards-based their browsers are but we can poke at it.

Which model are you using?

Amanda said...

Sorry to take so long to get back to you! I was trying to test on a BlackBerry 8330 smartphone (CDMA) v4.5.0.77 platform

I've tried to adjust my web browsing settings and changed somethings around but it really doesn't work - and certainly not with the factory setting. Though the browser does not work nearly as well as with some other smartphones.

Pam Sessoms said...


Thanks. I haven't had any good luck with the simulator. It looks like the blackberry browser's javascript support is too limited at this point. Since the libh3lp widget relies so heavily on javascript, it's not likely to be highly fixable.

The only encouraging things I can think of are (1) at least Blackberry users can send text messages, and (2) my brilliant colleague Chad Haefele mentions some really interesting mobile browser stats here: (Blackberries have an astonishing 41.6% of the US smartphone market share (in devices sold), but make up just 10% of US mobile web traffic.) said...

I am about to try using libraryh3lp and a widget on my page, and connecting with jabber to my blackberry.

So if you want to be able to access a jabber network on a Blackberry (or any other IM service), I use Beejive or IM+ Lite. Find me on if you need help with the BlackBerry portion of it. -nathan

Alex Palilonis said...

We tested this today on a BlackBerry. Unfortunately I can't tell you the make/model at the moment since my co-worker has left for the day, however it did seem to be working. There was a bit of a delay before the first message went through, and the first message disappeared, however after that, everything seemed to work OK, if a bit laggy. We will continue to test, and hopefully I can find out the make/model tomorrow.

Pam Sessoms said...

Alex, fascinating! Thanks for testing. Yes, if you figure out what model/OS version that Blackberry is, it would be good to know. :)

Michelle said...

This is great. We're working on a mobile version of our library site and I'll link to this in the "ask a librarian" portion. It'd be great if you got it working on most of the platforms.

Does anyone have any idea which XMPP-friendly IM app is best for monitoring libraryh3lp chat on an iPhone?

Pam Sessoms said...


Folks have used BeeJive, IM+ (the free one times out after some period of time, but the pay one does not), and the newish Meebo app. The Meebo app is really nice and is available for most platforms. It's free and has a clean interface. You do have to create a Meebo acct and then link your libh3lp XMPP acct to it.

I think all of these will do push notifications on iphones.

Bernhard said...

Tested on Blackberry Tour 9630 v, both the Blackberry browser and Opera mini 5. Sorry to bear bad news...

In Blackberry browser, it started out OK, but had no scroll function in the upper message area, so after about 3 lines of text, i couldn't see any more or tell that the librarian replied. I could send myself a transcript to see what was going on.

Opera mini was worse, had to (slooowly) refresh the browser to send, and only via the green arrow, and didn't register librarian replies at all. Couldn't send a transcript, either.

Jason said...

We have tested the mobile widget in Dolphin, xScope, and mobile Safari. Each time we are not getting a scroll bar, alas. We tried using two fingers to scroll in mobile Safari but had no luck with that either. Has anyone been successful scrolling on the widget? If so, what phone and browser have you used?

Johnny Woods said...

I am trying to use one of our widgets already in use for a mobile chat. The chat is mobile and works fine, however, the styles don't seem to transfer to the mobile version. Could I be doing something wrong?


-Johnny (Kennesaw State University)

Pam Sessoms said...

Hi Johnny,

Styles should be usable in the mobile widgets, by referencing a skin ID, presence theme, etc...

Here is an example of a mobile widget with some trimmings:

Hope that helps, let us know if something is wonky.

Jenne said...

I'm having a lot of trouble getting the right URL for a Mobile widget-- I want to put in on our LibraryAnywhere page. Any help would be appreciated.
-- Jenne

Pam Sessoms said...

Hi Jenne,

Hmmm. The URL should redirect to a URL like this:

Can you give us the URL you're trying? If you'd rather, you can send it privately to and we'll take a look. :)

Eric Sessoms said...

Quick update: we auto-detect for mobile devices now and provide the mobile widget for those automatically.

However, you can still provide the mobile widget explicitly for your mobile pages, if you wish.