Friday, July 13, 2007

OJS goes mobile – An investigation of how to adapt OJS to meet the needs of mobile users

Above: Lawrence Poon (left) and Shubhash Wasti are working on OJS mobile friendliness.

Shubhash Wasti (Athabasca University, Library Services, Alberta, Canada)
Lawrence Poon (Athabasca University, Library Services, Alberta, Canada)

Presented on:
July 13, 2007 at 11am in SFUHC Sauder Industries Policy Room

~Click for abstract~

~Blogger’s Commentary~

Thanks and more thanks to modern technology, the various means of accessing knowledge grow exponentially.

“Mobile OJS” sounds very hi-tech and is certainly in tune with the increasing popularity of mobile technologies. Although Shubhash Wasti points out that the usefulness of a mobile-friendly OJS for authors, editors, etc. is “arguable”, we cannot possibly argue its advantages for users wishing to read journal articles on their mobile device. At this point, there are many technical issues to be resolved, but the idea of a mobile-friendly OJS serves the interests of both public and commercial spheres. There can be economic incentives for companies to improve their mobile devices to allow better support of OJS. Scholars and seekers of knowledge nowadays no longer spend hours crouched over a desk at the library, but are moving towards finding a variety of ways to access that knowledge through modern technologies. In this sense, the commercial sector is also contributing to increasing access to knowledge.

As for the public sphere and the effort to increase openness of knowledge, a mobile-friendly OJS can certainly contribute to wider circulation of academic material for the community and allow more people to participate in the Open Access movement. By combining developing technologies with the aims of Open Access, both areas can see major advancements. As we seek new ways to increase access to knowledge through technology, improvements to modern technologies must also be made. Indeed, while the advancement of knowledge access is contributing to the advancement of technologies, these technologies in turn are opening wonderful possibilities for the public to exercise their right to knowledge.

Perhaps in the future, we will not think only of open access to knowledge, but also of “mobile open knowledge” that is available wherever we go.

~Summary of Presentation~
- “Face of the web” annual report by Ipsos Insight found that 28% of mobile phone users worldwide access the web on their handset
- less than 0.1% of the OJS users access via their mobile device
- this study is to see how OJS can be made more mobile-friendly
- there is a trade-off between features and mobility: for example, using Flash on the website
- in terms of practicality: readers would be the ones to benefit greatly by a mobile-friendly OJS, but the usefulness of it to authors, reviewers and editors is arguable

Most important limitations of mobile devices

- screen size, resolution (some web browsers in mobile devices attempt to fit content on the small screens but often these optimizations can distort the pages)

- navigation: often having to use virtual keyboards or difficult to use buttons

- memory limitations may make them unable to handle large files

- lack of support for certain formats (e.g. some devices cannot read Word or PDF)

- limited or no support for certain web features (e.g. Javascript, Java, Flash, Frames, Auto refresh, pop-up windows etc.)

Mobile devices used in the testing:

Palm TX (browser: Blazer)
Dell Axim X30 (browser: Pocket Internet Explorer)
Sony MYLO (browser: Opera)

Potential Problems in view of
W3C recommendations

What works and what does not

Intermediary Approaches (Proxies)
- can be used as a “service”
- burden of mobile friendliness is shifted from the software/web developer to a third party
- examples:
Google –
Skweezer –
- but these are not perfect and not all problems can be solved this way

A possible approach using plug-in architecture
- “One Web” - different views
- requires a clear separation of presentation and application layers
- having mobile plug-ins for using OJS

Future studies
- study involving real users to find out impract of mobile friendlyiness in the use of mobile devices in accessing articles in OJS
- where is balance between features and mobile friendliness

Conclusions and suggestions
- strong separation of program logic from the presentation
- plug-in developers can develop plug-ins to detect mobile devices and serve pages optimized for mobile devices
- we cannot rely on the end users’ device to handle the page optimization
- provide support team for mobile OJS users
- OJS in its current form is near the unfriendly side on the spectrum of mobile friendliness

~ About the Presenters~
Shubhash Wasti
Lawrence Poon’s CV (personal website)

~Related Links~
W3C Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0: Basic Guidelines
Smartphone - Wikipedia
Personal digital assistants (PDAs) - Wikipedia


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