Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ibis Reader is a very capable on-line eBook reader that uses HTML 5, an emerging new standard for web sites and web-based services. Thus, Ibis Reader requires an HTML 5-compliant web browser. Fortunately, most modern browsers on desktop, laptop and even "smart" mobile devices are largely HTML 5-compliant. HTML 5 enables the Ibis Reader to blur the distinction between cloud-based and native applications, especially on certain mobile devices where network connectivity may not always be fast enough or might not be available at all.

To follow along, point mobileSafari (or other webkit-based mobile browser) at: and then, on Apple iOS devices, create a web clip so that this web app is presented in full screen mode (eliminates browser UI elements) and is easier to access later on. If you are using an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or an Android phone, you'll be asked to permit the creation of a local database of up to 50 MB in size. Desktop/laptop readers will want to use:

Ibis Reader provides an encouraging answer to those would-be eBook authors who ask, "If I create an eBook in ePub format, who will be able to read it?" That answer is, "Anyone with Internet access and an HTML 5 web browser." Of course, many will have other software and hardware options as well and they may well prefer them for one reason or another but Ibis Reader has the widest reach of all and that may be critical for many authors. Being a web application, Ibis Reader can be used on any desktop, laptop or netbook computer and on many mobile devices including the wildly popular Apple lineup of iPad, iPhone and iPod touch and any of the Android phones.

Among the many benefits of HTML 5 is
Local Storage which benefits iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and Android phones by enabling the download of entire eBooks to a local SQL Lite database on the device. This makes it possible for these devices to retrieve and present the Ibis Reader web app plus the full text of one or more eBooks without being connected to a network at all. Previously, this is what differentiated native apps from web apps. The web app could not run without a network whereas the native app could. This is now no longer the case.

Native apps still have some advantages over web apps in the areas of rich media and interactivity. However, even these may go away as the work beginning the next iteration of the ePub standard gets underway. More on this in a later post.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Here's something that I picked up at Academix 2010.  It's a way for for folks who have no coding chops whatsoever to quickly and easily build iPad-optimized web apps from text, images and video that they collect.  The presentation I got this from was delivered by Sal Soghoian who is the AppleScript Product Manager at Apple, Inc. Fortunately for us, he's developed a companion web sited called Padilicious where you can read all about it and download all of the materials you'll need to learn how to generate iPad-optimized web applications in minutes.

This method takes advantage of several MacOS X technologies (
AppleScript, Automator and Services) so you'll need a modern Mac running MacOS X 10.6.x (Snow Leopard) or later. What you'll be downloading from Padilicious and using is an automated workflow that requires zero HTML coding expertise. If you can select text and find/select files on your computer, you have all the necessary skills to create iPad web apps.

So what is a web app? A web app is a web site that looks and operates very much like a native application for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch). If you create a web clip of this site on your iPad (
instructions here), it will operate in full screen mode so none of the usual web browser controls are seen making it look even more like a native application.

With these Automator Actions and Services installed, creating a web app is a simple matter of selecting text, optionally selecting an image, an audio file or a movie and then invoking the service and using a forms like interface to choose various options.

So far, there are two automated workflows:

1) Create Single-page Web App
EXAMPLES (click on thumbnail images in rightmost column)

2) Create iPad Photo Web App.
EXAMPLES (click on thumbnail images in rightmost column)

To fully appreciate the examples, use an iPad, load the web site, create a web clip for it and then revisit the site using the web clip icon.

Feel free to post your iPad web apps here in the comments. I'd love to see them.