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Kitten Pad

Cat and iPad

Hmm, very warm…

AutoKitty has been updated to better work with the Apple iPad and other tablets.  The new version is currently undergoing testing by Engles (pictured) the project’s chief technology guru, and acting head mouser.  The updates came as part of our work with schools for a TDA project, where iPads seem to be in vogue.

AutoKitty is not really a web page, more of a web application, and as such it uses a pretty sophisticated user interface making use of dragging, right clicks and other UI paradigms common to desktop software.  This made the transition to fit onto a limited device like an iPad non-trivial.  The first issue was to divide touch and swipe movements into those which controlled AutoKitty’s tracks, and those which scrolled the screen (the iPad doesn’t understand the concept of scrollbars, so every drag is treated as a potential attempt to scroll).  The next problem was that the iPad has no concept of right click to bring up context menus, and long clicks (an alternative where the user touches and holds on an element for a while) are assumed by the iPad to be the initiator of a cut/paste action.  So yet again AutoKitty had to intelligently wrestle the appropriate software events from the iPad so it could do something different with them, while ensuring genuine cut/paste functionality was undisturbed.  For the parts of HTML5 the iPad doesn’t support (eg. “contenteditable”), a separate editor dialog window had to be created; not as elegant as the WYSIWYG editing in the desktop AutoKitty, but a workable solution.

Because the iPad has no concept of local storage the generated HTML page cannot be saved anywhere.  We got around this by using a URL shortening service (Bitly was the one we chose) to create a link that would re-generate and display the HTML each time the page needed to be viewed.  This link can be cut/paste into an email to a teacher, in place of an actual HTML attachment.

At the moment we have a working prototype, but there are still one or two outstanding UI quirks that it would be nice to work out; fortunately none of them fatal.  The limitations of the iPad — a device largely designed for consuming rather than creating — certainly presents a challenge for any true HTML5 application (although it seems to handle basic web pages just fine!)

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