Tuesday 30 April 2013

Golf Predictor Menus Slightly Amended

New 'Access GP' menu option on outside section of the site
The menus on Golf Predictor have been updated slightly for better mobile device compatibility. While it is not recommended to use a mobile device to view Golf Predictor (see below), it should be possible to at least view the numerical data on a mobile browser, should you so wish.

It was brought to my attention by a user that the Register/Log In options on right of the top menu bar on the outside section (home page etc) were not visible on his Android device. This would be also true of the Log Out link in the same position on the top menu bar in the member section. This would obviously be a big problem for mobile users if they can not even log in to the system!

Upon testing with my Nexus 7 tablet (running Jelly Bean 4.2.2), this behaviour was duplicated, but only under relatively high zoom levels. Reducing the zoom level resulted in the reappearance of the aforementioned menu options. This behaviour was also exhibited on my iPhone, although the problem occurred only under much higher zoom levels. Having to zoom in to read a page and zoom out to log in or out was not ideal by any means. To address this, I have added new options on the main page menus (member section and "outside" section)  to allow users to access these commands at any zoom level. These new options can be seen under the new "Access GP" menu in the screenshot of the outside section above. The new log out option has been added to the "My GP" menu in the member section.

I have left the existing menu options in place for all users who are accustomed to using them. Incidentally, I did try making the site responsive and although it worked fine on desktop browsers (including Chrome), it refused to work on Android Chrome. Therefore, I decided on this far simpler solution rather than another site redesign! Note that occasionally the top menu bar still does not behave as it should on Android, but this is now only a minor cosmetic annoyance.

Golf Predictor was developed as a desk top application before the proliferation of smart phones and tablets. This was also when Adobe Flash ruled supreme and before the emergence of HTML5/JavaScript. Therefore, the charting technology used in all the charts on Golf Predictor are rendered in Flash. Therefore, users browsing Golf Predictor with any device that does not support Flash will not be able to view any of the charts at this time. Replacing the charting technology to a more mobile friendly one is problematic for the following reasons:
  1. It would be a huge effort to replace the more than 320 flash charts on Golf Predictor. I simply do not have the time or the inclination for this task at the moment.
  2. There is a paucity of acceptable HTML5/JavaScript alternatives. Almost every option is either too expensive or simply does not look good enough.
I have done a lot of research into replacing the charts recently. The easiest solution would be to upgrade from the free version of FusionCharts currently in use (Flash rendering only) to their paid version (Flash and failing that, defaulting to HTML5/JavaScript). That would mean minimal changes to all the charting code and result in better looking charts. However, I have been quoted a prohibitively high price by the developer, so unfortunately that is not an option. I may put in browser detection (not 100% reliable) on some charting pages and show inferior looking free HTML5/JavaScript charts to mobile clients. In the meantime, it is recommended that you use a PC to get the most out of Golf Predictor.

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