Experimenting With iBooks Author and Widgets
While most of my time is spent working on the MapBox iOS SDK and helping developers make great native apps, I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to integrate MapBox technologies into mobile devices. One thing that I came across recently was Apple’s iBooks Author app, which allows even non-developers to create multitouch-capable textbooks for the iPad. There are a number of templates and drop-in widgets like popups, embedded video, and sidebars, but through the use of regular HTML – the same simple, copy-and-paste-capable tool that’s used to build web pages – you can build your own widgets for other content.
Using Apple’s custom widgets guide, I was able to craft a small map-embedding widget so that anyone can use their own MapBox maps and easily get them into their own custom content for the iPad. This could be used in iPad-equipped classrooms to more directly engage with a unit on explorers and geography, or it could be used in a training session for employees to discuss global reach and marketshare. In any case, allowing a person to explore the content at their own pace right in their own hands has much more impact than a static presentation on a big screen.
If you would like to experiment with this technology yourself, you can download the following tools that I’ve put together:
- Example textbook (open with iTunes to sync to an iPad)
- Sample widget for embedding into your own textbooks (unzip, then right-click in Finder and Show Package Contents)
- Example iBooks Author document (open in iBooks Author)
- Complete example on GitHub (for everything in one place and for tracking future updates)
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