mccord on iphone

Clayton H Lewis Clayton.Lewis at Colorado.EDU
Tue May 26 02:29:54 UTC 2009

James, I'm in transit Tuesday... here is where I've gotten to w  
looking at the McCord search facility on iPhone.

There is a semi-working mockup at 

Most of the links go on to the real McCord pages, but the Paintings,  
Prints and Drawings link goes on to the next page of the mockup.

If you do an actual search you'll go on to real McCord stuff, but  
there is a link at the bottom of the search page that goes to a  
simple mockup of search results.

Points of interest:

There is a good deal of stuff on preparing Web content for the iPhone  
chapter_1_section_1.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40002079-SW1. Most of  
this is general advice, but there is also some iPhone-specific  
markup, notably some meta tags (see below).

The pages set up for iPhone will render fine (if blandly) on other  
platforms... BUT, as can be seen, these pages are very different from  
the real McCord pages, which are hugely more complex (dozens of links  
per page, Flash for viewing images, etc etc etc.)

I had to strip out LOTS of stuff to get something reasonable for the  
small screen (and of course may not have made the best choices in  
doing this.)

If museums are to avoid duplicating all their work creating versions  
of pages for different platforms, we should develop some way to mark  
up what content is crucial and what is peripheral, so one can render  
just the crucial stuff when needed (with some way to get to the extra  
stuff, mapped onto other screens). This would no doubt not be easy to  
make work, but would be very valuable, eg for people who don't read  
well. One potentially tricky bit: getting from the real McCord pages  
to the iPhone versions involved more than just cutting things out  
bodily; there are things like columns in tables that should be  
suppressed for the basic view, where the columns weren't explicitly  
tagged. Tagging would need to be more thorough. Maybe a content  
management system could semi-automatically incorporate the  
"centrality" tags in such a way that less central info could be  
styled out.

There are some iPhone specific things to do, notably the meta tag  
that sets the "viewport". I had to fiddle with this (and with the  
table layout) to get things to show up at reasonable sizes. I'm far  
from confident that I've done this the best way, though the effect  
seems ok.

I also added a meta tag that lets a page be seen "full screen", like  
an iPhone app (no "browser chrome"). But this is quite limited: (a)  
you ONLY get the effect when you add a bookmark to the page to your  
home screen, and get to it from there, not when you access it any  
other way : ( , and, as a result,  (b) the full screen effect is lost  
when you link to any other page, even if that page has the right meta  
tag. Anyway, this is someone's effort to supply something someone  
asked about in one of the calls, that is, to make something on the  
Web look like a native app.

There is an iPhone feature that I hadn't known about that works  
nicely if the pages are laid out appropriately, and if the user knows  
about it. On the search results page, if you "double tap" on an  
image, the browser will automatically pan and zoom to give you the  
best view of the image. Similarly for the text items. As mentioned  
above, it took some fiddling to get the page laid out so as to have  
this work. In favorable cases this is a lot better than "manually"  
panning and zooming, especially to read text, for which line lengths  
are often awkward.

On the search page you will see that the select widget renders as a  
fancy (?) iPhone spinner. To my eye, this doesn't work very well when  
(as in the example) there are multiple selects on the page, in which  
case (as you'll see) you get some extra buttons to navigate among the  
select widgets. (Again, you get this effect from perfectly ordinary  
HTML that works as usual on other platforms.) Note that you only see  
the spinner when you select one of the select boxes.

Flash isn't supported on iPhone (yet? will it be?). So the image  
viewer the McCord uses would have to be reworked for this platform.

Cheers, Clayton

Clayton Lewis
Professor of Computer Science
Scientist in Residence, Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities
University of Colorado

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