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Wired iPad app uses kludge to work around App Store rules

updated 10:20 am EDT, Wed June 2, 2010

Dev explains massive size of magazine downloads

Adobe and publisher Condé Nast were forced into a relatively clumsy solution in order to get the Wired iPad app past App Store restrictions, says a designer who has taken a close look at the software. The title was originally created using Flash, then cross-compiled for Apple handhelds. When Apple suddenly altered rules to block cross-compiling, however, Adobe switched to a method involving Objective-C and HTML5.

The designer source notes that upon inspection, the iPad edition of Wired is really based on a series of XML files which lay out thousands of JPEG and PNG images. In the current issue the total is 4,109 images, taking up 397MB of disk space. Each page is represented by two main images, for portrait and landscape modes, along with many smaller ones for interactive animations and other interface elements.

The graphics and XML files, exported from InDesign material, are hosted within an app compliant with App Store rules, which when combined with audio and video results in the present issue's 527MB size. Another source, a former worker with Condé Nast, suggests that the same approach is likely being used for GQ and Vanity Fair. This offers the double advantage of minimizing work while counting iPad downloads against distribution numbers, making the magazine an easier sell to advertisers. The tradeoff is that readers must set aside a large chunk of memory on their iPads in order to keep one or more issues.






by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. legalproblems

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    Typical

    Adobe bloat

  1. JulesLt

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    . . . and the other options are?

    A lot of the commentary on this seems to ignore the fact that every solution to this issue has problems - PDF isn't interactive enough (and the AppStore ToC disallows any third-party interpreters anyway), while a pure HTML based approach - even using HTML 5 and WebFonts - still lacks the typographic quality of PDF / InDesign.

    Not saying that the chosen approach is right, but right now it's a choice between fidelity and size.

  1. ebeyer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +7

    Hypercard

    Superficially reminds me of the old Hypercard.

  1. facebook_Thomas

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jun 2010

    +1

    So what about Flash?

    We hear a lot of numbers and issues for not using flash but never hear how large the project would be with flash? You still have to deal with portrait and landscape so wouldn't that mean two flash files for each animation. What am I missing? Please make a comparison and then you can complain if Apples way is worse.

  1. thedude

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    So how big is the original site?

    Like others have posted, if you want to know if this is big or small or relatively the same there needs to be some actual comparison. Neither of which are in the article. I would be interested to know if this interactivity is useful or just glitz. Even with video embedded these numbers seem really large.

    I have had a wired subscription for a while and I don't know why they would need something more interactive then say video, or audio linked to the text.

    And then another question would be why is all the content hosted locally? Obviously this could be an option, but really would not be necessary in most situations.

    thedude

  1. graxspoo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Proves that the current approach is the wrong way

    Developers will always hack around like this to get their apps to pass muster. The question is, has this improved matters, or made them worse? You might wind up with a more bloated, less interactive app that technically conforms to the agreement.

    This is why the agreement shouldn't have anything to do with technologies used to build the app, but rather should focus on qualitative benchmarks. Does the app draw too much power? Does the app support standard UI conventions? Is the app responsive? Basing the pass/fail decision around this sort of metric would allow developers to use any tools they desired, as long as the result wasn't 'sub standard.'

    Metrics like this are also much closer to things that end users actually care about. Adopting this sort of gate-keeping would clearly signal that Apple has the best interests of its customers at heart, and isn't simply engaging in "API protectionism."

  1. trinko

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    cost?

    This is not going to work. Why pay more for a copy that has no effective production cost than you pay for an issue delivered in your mail box? I don't know what the subscription cost is for Wired but I'd doubt it's $60/year. Now if the magazine was time critical then getting it early would be reasonable. However time critical mags like Aviation week already give subscribers free access to web versions. Why should the iPad model be different? Now maybe it won't be free but it should be cheaper than getting a paper copy.

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