Managing cross-platform forms

Discuss plans for a future version of HanDBase for the Google Android platform

Managing cross-platform forms

Postby pdc1 » Sat Feb 01, 2014 2:50 pm

I have a problem with the android approach for classifying forms. I have a Nexus 4, which is a handheld-sized device (4.7" screen, 1280×768 px, 318 ppi). Unfortunately, due to the pixel count, HanDBase seems to consider that to be a tablet! :? I think it would display nicely using the handheld form, but it looks pretty bad using the desktop/tablet form.

So first is an enhancement request: please take pixel density into account, or at least give me a preference on my android device to pick which form factor I want to use. Given the crossover handheld/tablet (phablet) devices out there, the latter might be a better approach, but for an initial classification, I can tell you a 2.5"x4" screen is not a tablet ;).

Second, is there some way I can work around this? I have a tablet (iPad) and a desktop in addition, and I want to use the desktop/tablet form for those. Is there some way I can have a different form file for Android?

Thanks,
Paul
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Re: Managing cross-platform forms

Postby Brian_Houghton » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:55 am

Hi Paul,

I recommend using the default dimensions when designing a form, and then using the scaling options, to design your forms. For the tablet and desktop, the scaling should be at 4.

Please create a test database, create a form for it using the wizard and make sure that tablet/desktop scaling is at 4. Then test to see how the layout looks on the Android and on your computer. You should find that they match.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD
Kind Regards,
Brian Houghton, DDH Software
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Re: Managing cross-platform forms

Postby pdc1 » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:48 am

Hi Brian,

I'm afraid my goal is not to make desktop and handheld match. My desktop has a 22" monitor; my phone has a 4.7" screen. Considering them the same due to pixel count is not helpful. :( I realize HanDBase has a lot of legacy devices to support (former Palm Pilot owner here 8-)) but with modern devices it would be great if I could organize my forms by the physical size of the form in inches/cm instead of pixels. What I am looking for is advice on how I can work around this to have a small layout for my Android phone and keep my large layout for desktop/iPad.

To help explain what I'm trying to accomplish, below is a form for my books read database on my iPod touch. I have defined multiple tabs to organize the information on a small screen, and the green arrow next to comments switches to a view that lets me see a larger view of the comments with fewer other fields. Lots of tradeoffs for a small screen. I want to make a new set of forms for my Android phone to make the best use of its still-limited screen space, but unfortunately HanDBase considers my phone to be a desktop. :?
iPod touch.png
iPod touch layout
iPod touch.png (29.76 KiB) Viewed 848 times


This is the form I use for desktop and my iPad. Everything is there, and there is lots of space to read comments, so no need for tabs or other tricks. This layout does NOT work on my phone.
Desktop form.png
Desktop layout
Desktop form.png (19.58 KiB) Viewed 848 times
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Re: Managing cross-platform forms

Postby mjhanna » Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:24 pm

pdc1 wrote:... unfortunately HanDBase considers my phone to be a desktop. :?
Hi Paul,

Yes, HanDBase also considers my phone to be a desktop based on the number of available pixels. But even if it did not, that would not resolve your issue, as the settings for a Form for different devices simply affect the scaling of that one Form. Those settings don't define using one Form on one type of device and a different one on another.

I suggest that you define two completely different Forms for the different devices: one for the phone and a separate one for the pad/desktop. Then have a tab which will switch to the Form desired. That is the method I also use when I rotate my Android device from portrait to landscape. I put a tab on each Form, and its Action is to switch to the other Form. So if the Form is wrong for the orientation I am in (or the device you are on), one touch and I have a Form which is appropriate. This is similar to what you do with your green button for Comments.

As for the pixel issue, unless your screen pixel size is small I think it is unlikely you want to use those resolution numbers for the HanDBase Form Size. Screen resolution and HanDBase Form Size are two completely different concepts. I posted the results of my experimentation which explains both Android Form Size dimensions and scaling here. Hopefully those notes should help in picking appropriate Form Sizes for a given pixel size screen and specifying appropriate Scaling Factors for Android devices.

I believe HanDBase does a good job of automatically scaling as long as you: use a Form whose Form Size is roughly the same aspect ratio (WxH) as your screen, and use pixel values for the Form Size that are enough smaller than the resolution of your device so that the combination of your supplied scaling and HanDBase's automatic upsizing will cause the fonts etc. to upsize to a size you find readable.

Hope this gives you ideas,
Michael
(Only a user and not affiliated with DDH Software, but working with computer databases for over fifty years.)
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Re: Managing cross-platform forms

Postby pdc1 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:03 pm

mjhanna wrote:But even if it did not, that would not resolve your issue, as the settings for a Form for different devices simply affect the scaling of that one Form. Those settings don't define using one Form on one type of device and a different one on another.

I respectfully disagree; in addition to scaling, that's exactly what the device settings for a form control: the default new/edit form for that device, and that would totally solve my issue. So right now I have four forms: three for handheld (three different tabs/views), and one for desktop/ipad. One of the handheld forms is checked as the start form for Palm OS, Pocket PC, and Smartphones. The desktop form is checked as the start form for desktops and tablets. What I want is for my smartphone to use the smartphone form, or at least a preference in the app to let me choose whether to consider it a smartphone or tablet (since phablets admittedly confuse the issue).

Let me say that again, because it's a little frustrating: I want my smartphone to use the smartphone form.

But we don't live in a perfect world :) You have given me some good food for thought, and I will take a look at re-scaling the desktop view so Android does a better job at displaying, and then add a "zoom" button to use the handheld forms as needed.

Thanks!
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Re: Managing cross-platform forms

Postby dhaupert » Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:28 pm

Hi,

Thanks for both of your feedback points. I always hoped to use screen density and not resolution as the deciding factor but even that is not foolproof from what I've read. I am planning on adding a preference with the following options:

When scaling forms, treat this device as:
Smartphone
Tablet

And I will default to the device based on resolution.

Hope to add this for the next update!
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Re: Managing cross-platform forms

Postby pdc1 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:42 pm

dhaupert wrote:Thanks for both of your feedback points. I always hoped to use screen density and not resolution as the deciding factor but even that is not foolproof from what I've read. I am planning on adding a preference with the following options:

When scaling forms, treat this device as:
Smartphone
Tablet

And I will default to the device based on resolution.

Hope to add this for the next update!

Woo hoo, happy dance! :D :mrgreen: :lol: :mrgreen: :D

And thanks to mjhanna and Brian for their suggestions, I believe their advice will make desktop and ipad play nicer together!
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