Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Kurogo - Mobile Framework Middleware

Due to some of the developments that the Elevate Team are working on, we were looking for a platform that would allow for easy, but fully functional creation of a mobile friendly system.  What we want to do is capture what device/system the end user is using to access the site/page, and then display the content in a friendly/relevant style.

If a user accesses a site from their mobile phone, they don't want to have to zoom in/out and scroll around a small screen trying to click on menus designed for full screen desktop browsers.  Equally, a desktop users doesn't want to access a mobile themed site from their desktop, as a content producer you wouldn't want to have to manually intervene and create multiple versions of the same content.

During a period of research, David came across the Kurogo Mobile Platform, Kurogo describes itself as:
Kurogo is open-source Mobile Optimized Middleware™ for developing content-rich mobile websites and iOS and Android apps. Created by Modo Labs, Kurogo emphasizes extensibility, clean integration, and exceptional UX. It powers the mobile presence of a broad range of institutions, from top universities to Fortune 500 companies.

As mentioned above, Kurogo is an open-source platform, we have downloaded the source code and are in the process of installing on a test server.  Modo Labs, the creators, do allow for a trial installation on their servers, allowing you to see the power and potential of the platform.  We set up a quick demo site to allow us to explore the system, and to also run a quick "heads-up" with other teams within UCS.

The platform is incredibly easy to author with, simply requiring RSS feeds to allow it to display news and events, as well as being able to link it to a Youtube account.  Below are two screen shots, one from an iPhone and one from an iPad, this is showing the system recognising the device and displaying a "different" view to each.

[caption id="attachment_78938" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="iPhone screenshot"]Kurogo iPhone Screenshot[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_78939" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="iPad screenshot"]Kurogo iPad Screenshot[/caption]

As you can see from the iPad screenshot we have "Top News", "Videos", "Today's Events" etc.   The top news item is pulled directly from our blog via RSS, the videos are pulled directly from Youtube via the account name.  This approach makes the platform very quick to author with, and means we can still use current systems that are fit for purpose and we are not required to change how we work.

Below is a screenshot of the Kurogo admin panel, showing the simple controls.

[caption id="attachment_78942" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Kurogo admin panel"]Kurogo admin panel[/caption]

The admin panel allows you to choose which built-in content types you want to enable, whether they are on the homescreen and whether you want them included in the federated search.

Once those options are set you simply add the appropraite RSS feeds and account to get Kurogo to populate your mobile site.  You are also able to set the desktop website URL and Kurogo will autofoward and access via a desktop browser to this site.

A very interesting feature is the ability to pull in web pages from existing websites, and to make these mobile friendly.  The feature allows you to add custom tags to websites that you own, so you can even pull out parts of pages, again, the ability to use existing systems and to pull our parts of those is very appealing.

Our initial thoughts on the platform are very promising, the ability to have a platform that aggregates information from existing fit-for-purpose systems means we can carry on as we are, no need to change systems to incorporate a new mobile friendly authoring tool, this allows us to be very agile and to customise our content to all users.  When we should the potential of the system to other UCS teams, there was lots of interest, especially from the Library, who, like us, use different systems for different tasks, they liked the ability to be able to pull all those sources together into a mobile friend site.

The next step for us is to complete the local test installation, to allow us to look deeper and to really test the platform, initially we will use it to aggregate our current services into one mobile friendly site.

1 comment:

  1. [...] of concept) project using the Kurogo Mobile Framework. The aim of this project is to build on our initial work in this area, and give us a focus to report back to various groups at UCS, to inform further and wider [...]