Thursday 8 September 2011

iOSDev UK: Adapting Content for Apps

Dave Addey & Alyson Fielding, Agant Ltd, @daveaddey & @alysonf

  • Why an app?
    • Can you do something with it in dead time?
    • It’s always there when you need it
    • Would you use it yourself?
  • Preparing content
    • content definition lets you split up content into small pieces
  • iPhone vs iPad
    • use cases are different
    • e.g. full page illustrations just don’t work on an iPhone — universal app just doesn’t show them
  • network content:
    • assume no network and make as many things possible as you can
    • then download & cache what you need when network becomes available
    • same goes for submitting stuff — add it to a queue and submit it when a network becomes available
    • e.g. QI app submit a fact
    • provide the app bundle with some initial content to get started
    • if you have information always show it — but show how old it is

content formats

  • HTML
  • Property list
  • Custom XML
  • NSAttributedString
  • Core Data store
  • SQLite database
  • bundled media files
  • text files — e.g. QI facts to rate
  • PDF
  • e.g. QI app
    • books came as ePub (HTML)
    • needed tidying, but was very useful
    • errors could be spotted & fixed directly
    • however, not the right format to put in the app
    • used script to transfer into NSAttributedString
    • better presentation
    • better layout for images & text
    • better pagination
    • content definition really helped
  • e.g. Malcolm Tucker
    • email views driven from plist
    • Aly edited directly in XCode and rebuild to check
    • email content in HTML
    • attachments in PDF
  • e.g. Arsenal app
    • already had a CMS for the website
    • beginning of project — defined an API
    • tweaked the API throughout development, but had something to work from right at the beginning

Helping content experts

  • work hand in hand with them from the beginning
  • make sure they have a real device that they’re using every day
  • try to let the content expert able to make their own build of the app as they change the content
    • anyone working on the content has XCode installed and knows how to build it
    • they also have access to check stuff back in
  • let them play with your toys — it’s fun!
  • put the content in with the development


  • 2.7 million stations are picked from UK Trains picker every month (~88k per day)


  • testing
    • looking to do more
    • UI testing is a bit of a faff, but is possible

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