Portable Serendipity35

Type an m for mobile serendipity, iPhone style.

I spend most of my weekends glued  to a chair with a Mac in my lap while I work on the iPhone Application Development content for the classes I teach Monday and Tuesday evenings at NJIT.  By nature I'm a system administrator and operating systems developer, not a client application programmer.  I've always been a lot more interested in delivering content from a central distribution program than building a standalone program that recreates server-side functionality on an individual piece of hardware.

For a few hours over the past few weekends, I've managed to become sufficiently unglued from application development to spend some time constructing a true server-side delivery system for the iPhone, the iPod Touch and other mobile platforms to provide Serendiipty35 content.  First efforts were made using Apple's DashCode to deliver content, but that was too restrictive.  The webages produced were so dependent on iPhone conventions that the pages produced no clickable links when viewed from a conventional browser like Safari or Firefox. I never even tried to subject Internet Explorer to the webapp's URL.

Serendipity can natively produce RSS newsfeeds in XML and since XML is platform (and browser) independent (and the Serendipity software supports plugin technology to extend its features), I thought that an XML based mobile browser was probably the way to proceed. At the time, I didn't realize just  how correct I was.  A lot of work had already been done on the backend code translation and the content display and even though most of it was in German, I was able to download significant parts of the plugin code and adapt it to what I was trying to do.

After a break in the afternoon that had me scurrying out to get yet another iPhone SDK programming guide, I was able to finish editing the plugin code, build a new virtual host for serendipity35, create a name alias that allowed automatic redirection of content to a mobile site when a mobile browser was detected, and get the whole shooting match online.

I don't have a mobile device besides the iPhone and the iPhone Simulator with which to view the site, but at least it is browsable (and functional) in both Firefox and Safari.  And besides the obvious functionality of having a true mobile device version of the Serendipity35 blog, it distracted me long enough from my other weekend task to enjoy a pretty big chunk of my day.


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