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Vibe guest access on mobiles – not impossible, but risky business

ecoiffier

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December 7, 2012 7:54 am

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Say it, you’ve been dying to let the public see at least part of your Vibe implementation from just about any device, especially the ever increasing number of popular and not so popular mobile devices. Well, wait no more!

Why is the guest account of Vibe not allowed on most if not all mobile devices? Mostly because there are way too many browsers and mobile devices out there with even more peculiar behavior than msIE, regardless of the version.

So if you like living on the edge, are not afraid to expose your public to content which does not quite get the layout you were hoping for or just a series of poorly mangled pages, read on. Otherwise, please hit that back key and run – you have never seen this text.

This is not only at your own risk, although it should not hurt your server, but also at the risk of your public relations since public visitors may just get mangled pages displayed on their mobile devices … especially the older not so smart mobile devices. Do not forget that tablets are also mouse challenged.

An additional warning, you can not say you have not been forewarned, some mobile browsers will do their darnest to control the page frame, overflow and the likes. These mobile devices, after all, have a relatively tiny display area compared to the average and not so average desktops.

So here we go, got your helmet on?

Check out the Novell Vibe 3.3 Administration Guide, section 10 with the basic information on the ‘trick’ which follows. It is shorter than the necessary warnings. But here goes.

There are two parameters you need to change in the ssf-ext.properties file which hides in the …/opt/novell/teaming/apache-tomcat/webapps/WEB-INFclasses/config directory of your Vibe server. They are probably not there in your case, so copy them from the ssf.properties file and stick them at the end of the former file.

To be politically correct, the default settings suggested are just wonderful. But you know, since these are to be used to compare against the visitor’s User Agent String, why not be a little creative and loose ? Say you use these two not so politically correct lines:

tablet.userAgentRegexp=(?mozilla|gecko|mobile|tablet|ipad|kindle|presto|SEMC)
tablet.userDefaultTestForAndroidTablets=true

What would happen, you ask?

Well, just about every known browser in the universe (check out http://www.useragentstring.com/) will be given the full Vibe UI treatment instead of that pesky non guest friendly mobile UI. Why, because just about all of them have at least one of the listed words in their User Agent String. The first two are in fact in just about any browser, mobile or not!

So backup your current ssf-ext.properties file, tweak it with the above two lines, stop and start the Vibe service and … watch out … your public will have your Vibe default guest home page, or whatever their mobile device can make of it, on that itsy bitsy tiny screen of theirs. Oh, and do not forget your users with logins will also have to go through this default landing page unless they tack on /mobile at the end of your usual base URL. It will send them directly to your Vibe’s mobile UI.

Again, do this at your own risk: KNOW your public before you implement this smoke and mirrors trick. You are the one typing the two lines in your configuration, not Novell nor myself. You are on your own.

Are you not quite certain you want to do this to your Vibe implementation? Well, for a limited time only (until it changes, if it ever does), you can aim any of the browsers found for your hot little mobile device of yours, or even not so mobile devices, to http://csdecso.on.ca and see if we still have the tweak set on our Vibe implementation.

Yet an other warning, even if the page layout works just great there are features, like the html editor – an older rendition of TinyMCE, which just won’t work or will be reduced to just about nothing by Vibe as a wise safeguard. I did try a tweak to bypass the TinyMCE crippler and it just was not worth the trouble, especially on the mouse challenged tablets which are planning to take over the world.

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Categories: Technical, Vibe

Disclaimer: This content is not supported by Novell. It was contributed by a community member and is published "as is." It seems to have worked for at least one person, and might work for you. But please be sure to test it thoroughly before using it in a production environment.

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