Mobile Redirect Script Redux

For an up-to-date version of the Studio Hyperset PHP mobile redirect script, please visit SH‘s Google code project site. To read more about the script, beyond the discussion below, please visit the mobile redirect code discussion index.

In June 2007, just before Apple released the first iPhone, I wrote this:

The mobile web as we know it … is dead; the need for alt mobile sites and codes to redirect handheld visitors there has passed.

While the success, and projected continued success, of mobile apps suggests this will be increasingly true in the > 5 year term, now, and for the next few years at least, that particular thought, as well as much of what I wrote in that post, seems premature and myopic. While I, and most everyone else, thinks the internet’s next ".0" will be app-based rather than web-browsed, there will likely always be a place for “traditional” web browsers and, therefore, for alternative mobile versions of “traditional” websites.

In the present, at least, when using my smartphone and tablet, I’m routinely frustrated by sites and “dot coms” that don’t offer a mobile option, either in app form or via an alternative mobile page. While most smartphones and tablets allow zooming and x/y scrolling, even this, more often than not, doesn’t allow for satisfying desktop site UI.

Clunky desktop site like eBay and PayPal — horrific masses of mid-90s design and confusing information architecture — are completely redeemed by their elegant apps. But sites like Seeking Alpha suggest mobile users can find equally-rewarding browsing experiences from app-like mobile sites. This approach makes a good deal of sense for the non-profit, the micro-business — like SH — or the blogger who hasn’t the need for, or lacks the capital and/or financial resources to develop, a full-fledged mobile app.

One can easily develop mobile-only stylesheets — using, in the iPhone’s case, this meta link:

<link type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" media="only screen and (max-device-width: 480px)" href="Stylesheet URL Here">

… — or fully-formed, custom-designed alternative mobile sites. And if a developer doesn’t want to spend time developing his/her own custom mobile stylesheet or site, and is using a CMS like WordPress, outfits like Brave New Code make serving the latter effortless and inexpensive.

(SH, in fact, uses BNC’s excellent WPtouch Pro for its mobile site.)

Embarrassingly, I’ve been aware of all this for some time, but it did nothing to inspire me to rescue SH‘s 2006 mobile redirect script from depreciation. Instead, I let it languish for over three years in a tangle of comments and related posts held together by a makeshift discussion index.

But even as the code depreciated further and further — and even as the link to the zip file containing it dropped off the web for a good while — the series of posts the index ties together continued ranking very highly in “mobile redirection script” Google searches.

The popularity of the posts, even amid profound limitations, should have been another clue that my June 2007 instincts were decidedly wrong.

Clearly, developers are still looking for scripts that help them detect and redirect users to mobile versions of their sites.

And so be it.

Those seven posts, including the iPhone post quoted above and the index, now guide visitors here, and I’ve brought back SH‘s simple PHP mobile redirection script.

If, for whatever reason, developers want to develop a custom, alternative mobile version of their site — and can’t or don’t want to use a CMS plugin or develop an app — this code will help.

It’s now hosted on Google’s code project site where it will be maintained, improved upon, and otherwise properly managed.

What my inattention and shortsightedness tried to kill, the internet wouldn’t let die.

Revertor. Reverti. Reversus.

Quimby Melton

Founder/President, Director of Operations & Media Developer

Quimby started Studio Hyperset in 2006 after studying Transatlantic literature and culture, new media, and humanities computing at the Universities of Georgia (AB, 00) and Nevada, Las Vegas (MA, 03; PhD, 08). Apart from his work with SH, Quimby's published work in Bright Lights Film Journal, SCRIPTjr.nl, and elsewhere online and serves as executive producer of Live Free or Die!