What's the best advice for native app requests?

This comes up repeatedly and I’d love to hear some opinions about best advice.

My understanding right now:

There’s the official Discourse app for mobile. It’s actually a hub, it let’s you sign in to various Discourse instances and enables push notifications for those on your mobile device. You’ll browse the actual sites using the mobile web version:

Then there’s an independent iOS app with the same site manager approach, but the forum interfaces are coded natively. It seems to be out of active development, please correct me if I’m wrong:

And there’s an app template approach, that let’s you publish your existing Discourse instance as an app. It’s build with React Native, so works for Android and iOS, but it’s not coded natively. To make that app look like the web version of your instance, you essentially have to design it anew:

https://www.lexicon.is

So as far as I know there’s no easy mobile app solution for Discourse. You can use the web version, but then won’t have push notifications working; You can use an app that works like a site manager, then you have an additional access step (first install the manager app, then add the forum instance). Or you could offer an app through Lexicon, but that’s quite an extra effort in development.

My understanding is also that any solution that is not wrapping the web view needs to re-engineer all functionality. As Discourse functionality is heavily extended by plugins (e.g. calendar, events, assign, solved) none of this would be present if not specifically coded as well.

My advice so far:

  • stick to the web version, also on mobile
  • in general, offer a seamless sign-in experience by enabling single-sign-on and simplifying your default sign-up process
  • if you have a product-related app already then integrate community notifications in that app (e.g. listen to notifications webhooks).
  • if you don’t have an app already, see the first advice and put just a part of your prospective app budget into polishing the web version for mobile
5 Likes

The costs involved in creating any app is not cheap and people tend to think so.

If you have the budget for an native app, then by all means.

Otherwise, stick with the apps that are currently available :slight_smile:

4 Likes

There is push notifications support for all open platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux and Android. iOS is sadly the exception as they do not allow sites to send push notifications. However, it appears to be coming to iOS 16 or later.

6 Likes

@nexo was able to do something unique with his Discourse instance (Quemuse).

It appears to have been suddenly abandoned, yes.

The ultimate question though: How do you make your web application feel individually “native” to the platform(s) you’re putting it on? :thinking:

I believe it’s arriving even earlier than that. :grin:

3 Likes

I get asked about these issues constantly when I suggest Discourse as a platform. It will be especially important with the upcoming Discourse Chat (PRE-ALPHA) as it starts to compete with Discord, which has a pretty good mobile experience. I am hoping some of my customers who currently have very split communities between real-time (chat) and asynchronous (forum) communication can “have it all” with integrated chat, but it won’t be a proper and fully comfortable replacement for Discord until notifications are great across all platforms, and as trivial to use as any other app. An actual app would be even better, though I know that’s a tall order given Discourse’s design.

1 Like

What are you asking for, here?

Discord has a “Discord” app that lets you sign up for any number of Discord channels in the app. Discourse has the same thing for iOS, the “Discourse Hub,” that lets you sign up for any number of Discourse forums.

Are you complaining about Discourse Hub’s quality? Ease of use? (Do you have bugs to report?)

Or are you complaining that there’s no Discourse Hub for Android? (Why would you want one? On Android, the website itself can send push notifications.)

Oh, that reminds me… I’ve made note of this topic for future reference.

What do you mean? The same app is available for iOS and Android.

Hey @nolo, you might want to make mention of ForumX.