Layout faltering on low-performance phones

Posting this here in case anyone else encounters it in the future:

To help us find bugs and get early market feedback, we put ads on Craigslist in NYC and LA offering $10 to folks who would spend 30-minutes on a phone call with us while setting up an account.

We hadn’t anticipated it, but a huge benefit to this approach was that many of the folks who are looking for $10 gigs on Craigslist happen to have low-performance devices.

We found that half or more of the testers–all of whom had low-performance devices (old, low memory, etc)–encountered major usability problems on our instructional pages during the setup. These pages weren’t processing any data–they just displayed instructions with a button to move forward. But either the layout would be incorrect with the button pushed off screen (and not scrollable), or else the button would be visible but not clickable. There was no consistency in which instruction page gave a user problems–but half or more of the users weren’t able to complete setup.

We realized that a core difference on the instruction pages was that we were using formulas to determine the size of a couple containers. One container was systemVars.dimensions.window.height - 40, and a container within that was systemVars.dimensions.window.height * .5.

We changed those pages so that the container sizes were the default component values, and we haven’t had any issues with that since.

(There was a moment where I thought this was going to be an insurmountable issue, but I went on a reeeeeeaaallllly long walk, and came back with the insight about the layout. So all is well!)

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We’ve been internally hitting the boundaries of performance with the composer for a while and recognized the pain points which is why we’ve designed a new runtime with lots of optimization. I believe we are in the final phases of releasing alpha since it’s been used internally for a while now. Can’t promise it would fix these kinds of issues but in certain scenarios like huge repeated component structures with formulas it can perform orders of magnitudes better.

Sorry to hear that people are having issues with the apps.

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That’s exciting news!

Note though that this is ultimately a happy story. We were able to get around it without too much fuss :slight_smile: