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Tablet Support For SiteBrandBuilder

Updated SiteBrandBuilder login screen showing off tablet support.We are pleased to announce that SiteBrandBuilder now runs on modern tablets. You may now edit your site on an iPad or an Android 4.0 tablet.

Mobile device usage is on the rise. Optimizing your website for mobile devices gives you an edge on the competition. We created MobileBrandBuilder to offer SiteBrandBuilder clients the ability to create a mobile website optimized for a smartphone.

MobileBrandBuilder does not send tablet users to the mobile website. We believe that the usage pattern tablets is very different from smartphones. A tablet user is far more sedimentary than a smartphone user. The smartphone is for someone who is on the go. A tablet could be for easy reading on a beach or web browsing on a couch. It is the middle ground between a desktop and a smartphone.

Update your Website on a Tablet

We recognize that you are not always on your desktop when you need to make a change to your site. With the small screen size it would be difficult to optimize making changes to your desktop website. The larger screen size of a tablet makes it far easier to update your desktop website.

Back in May we included this as the primary feature of what we were working on. Some things have changed since then.

Tablet Support: The iPad

The iPad was by far the most difficult device to optimize. In iOS 5 Apple introduced content editor support. This was pretty buggy if you had multiple editors on a page. The cursor rarely appeared (though you could still type). Cut, copy, and paste rarely worked. File upload support was non-existent. Image dragging only worked once, and would disable the ability to bring up the module settings window.

Then came iOS 6. The updated version of Safari in iOS 6 fixes each of these issues. But it introduced one of its own. File uploading is a bit quirky. File selection in iOS 6 come from your Camera Roll. Every uploaded image has the file name “image.jpg”. Videos upload with a different name. To work around this issue we inserted a timestamp into the file name for any image named “image.jpg”.

iOS 6 adoption has surpassed 60% in a single month. That number will continue to rise. iOS users tend to update to the latest version fairly quickly. We feel that it is right to use this as the minimum requirement for official support.

Tablet Support: Android

Android is a far different beast from iOS. Apple limits all browsers in iOS to the same version of WebKit used by Safari. Android only changes the default version of WebKit when there is a new update to the operating system. Android allows browsers to include their own rendering engine. Google Chrome is still based on WebKit, but it includes an updated version from the default browser. This version will always be better than the default browser.

Android did not introduce content editor support until version 3.0. Google stated that version 2.x would not run well on a tablet. They discouraged vendors from creating tablets with this version of the operating system. The original Kindle Fire was the only Android tablet to run Android 2.x to be successful financially. Since Android 3.0 usage is non-existent we have made Android 4.0 the minimum requirement. Any browser that uses Android 4’s rendering engine will work. It would be impossible for us to include them all on the login screen. They should all work. I know the Kindle Fire HD does work.

There are more rendering engines than just WebKit. Mozilla and Opera use their own rendering engines. Firefox Mobile uses Gecko, while Opera Mobile and Opera Mini use Presto. Opera Mini is more of a viewer than a browser, but Firefox Mobile and Opera Mobile are full-fledged browsers. They are the biggest odd-balls. We will make every effort we can to support them. Unfortunately, they both share lack support for one critical feature — images cannot be dragged. The ability to drag an image in a content window is not supported by any mobile browser. We had to add this feature ourselves. We know when a finger touches an image. We also know the point when you release your finger from the screen. Unfortunately WebKit is the only rendering engine to allow you to place the cursor at specific point. Opera Mobile has never had this feature, and Firefox Mobile has removed this feature for the time being because it was buggy. With this one exception Opera Mobile 12.1 is supported. Firefox Mobile unfortunately has issues related to text selection as well as cut, copy, and paste. It also seems to have an issue with moving down to a new line once you hit enter. This creates a new paragraph, but the cursor remains on the previous line.

Tablet Support: Misc

We do not officially support any tablets outside of Android and the iPad. This includes the BlackBerry PlayBook, the defunct HP TouchPad, or any of the new Windows 8 tablets (specifically IE10 on Windows 8). Running the PlayBook OS 2.1 simulator indicates that the PlayBook should work, but this has not been confirmed. The HP TouchPad cannot even run the latest version of webOS. At its very best we suspect that it runs as well as iOS 5.

We are still doing research on support for IE10 on Windows 8. IE10 does not support touch events like any other browser. Nor does it support the feature keeping Opera Mobile from complete support. We will continue to test IE10 on tablets and that is why we do not list IE10 as an officially supported browser at this time. IE10 on a desktop runs correctly in our testing.

Example of the SiteBrandBuilder Photo Gallery module interface optimized for tablets.

Example of the SiteBrandBuilder Photo Gallery module interface optimized for tablets.

More to Come

We are going to continue to optimize the mobile experience. We know how to present a different interface to SiteBrandBuilder on mobile devices. For example, we present a different interface to the photo gallery module that introduces buttons that are large enough that they can easily be pressed by with a finger. We intend to work larger buttons into other areas of the SiteBrandBuilder to improve the experience.

Do you have any suggestions for optimizations should make for tablets? Please let us know.

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About

Brian is the Director of Development and Social Media for Brand Builder Websites where he oversees the development, strategy, and goals for our software development. He is also a huge fan of Android.

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