Imperial War Museum Image of Social Interpretation Blog title

Mobile phones. The new sort.

Please note: The author usually writes technical documentation. Recent documents have been described as “tedious” and “utterly boring”. In the spirit of blogging I have tried to enliven this with all the wit and charm of a serialised JSON array.

What are the mobile apps?
The SICE Mobile apps (iOS and Android) are being developed by Gooii in Nottingham. The apps are designed to provide access to object information from the IWM database and allow users to comment, collect and share those objects.

The jouney so far….
So the journey starts with a QR code scan from within the Museum space. From this we get a URL which we then validate (to check it’s an IWM one) and then throw most of it away keeping only the object ID. We post the object ID to the Museum’s SOLR API (based on Knowledge Integration’s CIIM) and get back a whole bunch of JSON from which we render an object page, we also run another query against the comments API and get back all the comments for that object (more JSON).

Zebra crossing
The QR part has been an interesting challenge so far. We have been using the Opensource ZXing library which has proved a different experience on both iOS and Droid…

  • iOS side: An involved process getting the Library source code to compile and integrate into the app, but once there scan performance is really good.
  • Android:
    • Initial headache trying to find a build that will work with droid version 2.1, but have solved that.
    • The recommended development path for Android is, “don’t integrate the library but call out to the ZXing shared service”.
    • This seems to work nicely.Good performance even on a low end handset

Ah now things start to get really interesting. So you the user wish to comment on your newly found object (and very nice it is too) and to do so you must be logged in… that’s only fair. So you select your login provider (IWM, Facebook or Twitter) and make your comment. Nice and simple. But behind the scenes lurks a great piece of tech, Knowledge Integration’s Comments API (it powers kiosk, web and mobile commenting). The API can take comments from any of the sources and validate them and post them to the IWM site. Cunningly the service can also tweet and (eventually) Facebook the comment on behalf of the user at the same time.

To date we have only tackled the Twitter and Facebook comments API on the iOS side, but technically it works very nicely.

Next on the dev list: Collecting, Sharing, Registration and IWM login… oh and the UI.

Taras Johnson – Gooii Ltd.

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