dotMobi has released a new tool for mobile developers and designers. It’s Data Explorer, an easy way to interactively browse and query the DeviceAtlas database. Device Atlas is dotMobi’s mobile device repository which combines data from 12 sources including WURFL, Volantis, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Vodafone, Bango and ArgoGroup. Its main purpose is to provide data that mobile developers can use to optimize mobile pages for various devices.
Data Explorer is a web based interactive tool that lets you analyze the DeviceAtlas data in various ways. The user interface consists of two new tabs (“Data” and “Devices”) on the DeviceAtlas home page. The Data tab (image above) has tree view listing all the device properties that DeviceAtlas tracks. Clicking a property, say “Memory Limit Markup” brings up a table, a bar chart and a histogram showing the distribution of devices having a particular value for the property. In the case of Memory Limit Markup the most common value is 4096 bytes but there is a wide range of reported values ranging from 1400 bytes to several megabytes. Clicking on one of the values in the table will bring up a list of all devices with that value. You can also query to find devices within a given range or compare two properties to get a bubble chart and a table representing the frequency of specific combinations of those two values. Comparing Memory Limit Markup with Usable Display Width shows that both tend to increase in unison, which makes sense, newer and higher end phones tend to have both more memory and bigger screens.
The “Devices” tab lets you browse or search for a particular handset and see all its properties like screen size, page and file download limits, support for various image, audio and video formats and for markup features like tel: and sms:, supported Java JSRs, etc. (image below). One thing I particularly like about this page is that it lists all the known user-agents for each phone. When reviewing mobile sites or testing my own I like to try sending different user-agent headers to see what sort of device specific adaptation the site is doing. Before Data Explorer it wasn’t always easy to find the correct user agent for a given phone.
The Data Explorer UI is really slick and provides all sorts ways to drill down into the data. For example, on the listing of the properties for a particular device, clicking on a property brings up a bubble describing what the property means and a listing all of the Device Atlas sources and what value each one reports for that property. Clicking on a device name in any of the results on Data tab takes you to that device’s property page.
I particularly like the user-agent recognition tool of the Data tab. Have you ever found a weird user agent in your server logs and wanted to identify the device that sent it? Now you can Just paste it into Data Explorer to find out everything Device Atlas knows about that user-agent which, if it’s a mobile browser, will be quite a lot.
Data Explorer is free to use but registration in dotMobi’s mobiForge developer program (also free) and accepting the terms of the DeviceAtlas developer license is required. Signing up is easy and ony takes a minute. Data Explorer is a great tool for getting a feel for the universe of mobile browser capabilities or learning more about the properties of a specific handset. I really like the way dotMobi is giving back to the mobile dvelopment and publishing community by providing great tools like Data Explorer and ready.mobi.
You can find Device Explorer is at deviceatlas.com/explorer. To help you get started there is a short video tutorial at mobiforge.com/designing/story/introducing-new-deviceatlas-data-explorer.