How does the mobile app work?

I see that discourse hosting comes with a “mobile app”. What does the mobile app do for someone with a forum?

  1. Is it a general discourse app, and your forum users can add your forum to it to be one of the forums the app plugs into? In this, I would guess you tell your users to download the “Discourse” app and add your community.
    or
  2. Can you link it to your forum so that it is your forum’s native mobile app? (kind of like how your forum can have a unique domain that doesn’t include the word “discourse”). In this case users might not even know that your forum site is a discourse site–they just see it as the mobile app for your site. In this case, you tell your users to download the mobile app linked to your forum name.

One benefit of the mobile app (in either case) I see is “push notification” support. I assume this means that I as the forum owner can send push notifications. Would it also be possible for users to create local notifications, such as reminders for themselves?

Thanks!

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It’s 1.

And for push notifications, they aren’t manually created. The app will receive push notifications for forum events, like being mentioned, receiving a reply, etc.

Got it. Thanks. Other than push notifications, then, I am not sure the benefit of the mobile app to the forum owner–for the user, I supposed there is benefit if a user (I guess) has a lot of discourse forums they use and this is an easy way to have them in one place.

@JQ331, “Other than push notifications” is a understatement IMHO. As a 20+ year forum admin in multiple spaces, I would blame a large portion of the decline of forum use in the past decade on a lack of push notifications. People use apps now more than mobile browsers and especially for IOS, where native push notification support is not available for websites loaded in Safari, the ability for users to be updated and reminded of new content on your forum in the same way that they are constantly aware of Faceobook, Instagram, and every other app out there is critical to keeping your forum relevant.

There are a lot of notifications vying for the attention of your users. You can’t make the other notifications go away, but to not have any on your own forum is a miss in my experience.

Yes, users who are already used to checking your forums in Safari will maybe continue to do so without proper native notifications, but if you are looking to grow, especially by expanding into audiences that haven’t used forums much, notifications are key in helping keep your site easily accessible to them.

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That’s very interesting. Thanks, @007, I’ll consider it seriously. I think the drawback will continue to be, though, that I hope to build a forum that users view as it’s own app. So I hadn’t really planned to link it to Discourse in the user’s minds. (No offense to Discourse–which is an outstanding product in general–I just think there’s an advantage to have users think of the site as it’s own product.)

Telling users to get the “native mobile experience” by adding this forum to a discourse forum app diminishes this. That’s not terrible, but makes me less inclined to see the mobile app as a meaningful benefit.

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@JQ331, I actually just came across this thread that was posted yesterday. It may be of interest to you:

It will be limited to more of a vanilla interaction with your Discourse database (unless custom support for popular plugins is added), but it may be a good fit for your needs.

Just to add that I find the app very useful.

As Discourse has become a more and more popular forum platform, the app has become more and more useful.

I have 7 forums on my app at the moment and expect that to grow. (In fact just thought of another to add)

It’s a great way to quickly review if my attention is needed on any of the Discourses and a really nice way of keeping the forums out of the mess of the browser apps tabs.

And just to reiterate: on iOS the push notifications are invaluable because Apple has so far refused to support web notifications on mobile Safari.

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Thanks for this info. I had mentioned earlier considering different hosting providers. Just to note–the discourse support I have seen so far (for people who go with Discourse’s official managed hosting) has been fantastic.

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@JQ331, sharing my experience: I know basic HTML and CSS, typically break PHP anytime I touch it. I’m a copy-paste guy but I like a good puzzle.

Moderator note: Shrunk as this paragraph is continuing the off-topic conversation.
I started playing with Discourse about 6 months ago by following the 30-min install on a Digital Ocean $5/mo droplet. Actually, I tried IN VAIN for hours to install Discourse using the command line, then finally followed the 30-min install guide already shared above and got setup quickly. For DO, you can “see more” of their plans and find the $5/mo package. Maybe not the ideal speed for some forums, but ample for me with a relatively small forum.

For the mobile app, I took my absolute beginner skills and deployed an iOS app from this repo:

It was neither hard nor easy. It was just work. A lot of work; took me maybe 40 hours from start to finish, including hiring a developer to tell me to just update my software versions.

With DigitalOcean, you can upgrade your droplet easily, though I do not believe you can downgrade.

Summary: for $5/mo DigitalOcean hosting and $99/year Apple Developer license, I have a fully functional Discourse forum with a branded iOS app available on the App Store.

That is very helpful to hear. Thank you for this good information.