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Technical Limitations and Known Issues with Mobile Access to Licensed Resources

August 2010

Technical Limitations and Known Issues

  • CDL has performed preliminary testing on selected high-use systemwide licensed resources with the most popular mobile platforms (iPhone, Android and Blackberry) and current campus remote access methods for providing IP authentication. IP authentication is necessary for both mobile-optimized web pages as well as existing resources.
    • Of all campus authentication methods (standard proxy, client VPN, and rewrite proxies such as WebVPN and EZProxy), the rewrite proxies, when they worked, provided the easiest method for providing authentication through the browser, with the user experience being nearly identical to existing remote access steps.
      • Campuses will need to document additional testing, training and user education steps for creating and using bookmarklets and bookmarks on mobile devices for rewrite proxy users.
      • For more information regarding the use of standard proxy and client VPN on mobile devices, please see the “Questions that campuses need to answer” section below.
    • Not all rewrite proxies work well on all tested platforms.
      • EZProxy
        • Works well with iPhone
        • Works reasonably well with Android
        • Does not work with Blackberry
          • There appears to be a caching issue with the Blackberry browser that results in a hanging condition.
      • WebVPN (Cisco tested, assume Jupiter is similar)
        • Works well with iPhone
        • Does not work with Android
          • Requires additional configuration and functionality from the VPN vendor.
        • Does not work with Blackberry
  • Not all resources work well on all platforms and authentication methods. Even if a mobile platform can use a particular authentication method successfully, the licensed resource may have some issues. From a supportability standpoint, common issues per platform include:
    • General
      • EBSCO non-mobile optimized interface is consistently problematic across platforms and authentication methods. For EBSCO, use the mobile optimized version.
      • Many PDFs from vendors are not optimized for mobile and are formatted as two columns, which can make reading difficult on a mobile device.
      • When sending a citation, most resources will email a direct link to the user, not the PDF. Users can then access the PDF from their home machine.
      • If you are experiencing weird behavior in a resource and the page has a UC-eLinks frame, select “close the frame” and try your activity again.
      • It  can be difficult to figure out how to send a citation from non-optimized pages – often the page elements are displayed so that it’s difficult to add things to a list and locate the steps to mail a citation unless you are very familiar with the interface.
    • iPhone
      • Overall, iPhone had the least number of problematic issues with licensed resources and authentication methods.
    • Android
      • Android does not work with WebVPN. Android can log in to EZProxy.
      • PDFs that are opened from the website in the browser will not open. If the PDF forces a download to the device, it appears to open fine.
      • Some page elements can be difficult to activate and change focus.
    • Blackberry
      • Blackberry does not work with WebVPN. Blackberry can log in to EZProxy.
      • When PDFs download (which can be iffy), they often display in a wrapped and zoomed format, but with character and line break display issues.
      • Out of the three platforms, random behavior, problems with display, access, and timeouts were greatest with the Blackberry.
      • It is unknown as to how well the licensed resources work with a Blackberry when accessing via an IP included in the campus wireless network, as the phone that was used for testing did not have wireless connectivity.

Suggested Troubleshooting Steps

  • What mobile device are they using?
  • What method of remote authentication are they using?
  • Browser settings:
    • Are Javascript and cookies enabled?
    • Are popups enabled?
  • Can you replicate the problem from a desktop/laptop?
    • Can you replicate the problem on the same method of remote access, if needed?
  • Is the UC-eLinks frame turned off (when using UC-eLinks to access full-text)?
  • Has the user tried downloading the PDF to their machine, if this is an option?

User Best Practices

  • Bookmark the rewrite proxy URL.
  • If available, use the bookmarklet, if provided by the campus.
  • Turn on Javascript and popups.
  • Have their email address available for ease of copy/paste when sending articles.

Last updated: December 14, 2012

Document owner: Holly Eggleston