How to Create Mobile Apps as a Non-Developer

Justin | design,HTML5,iOS,tips | Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

So you want to create a mobile app. Who doesn’t these days, right? But you’re not a hardcore programmer, and maybe your budget won’t allow you to hire one.

So how do you create an app for one or more of these platforms?

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Blackberry
  • webOS

Each one of these operating systems uses a different programming language, and each one is reasonably complex.

Is There Some Universal Language I Can Use?

Short answer: yes. It’s HTML, the language of the web.

HTML can easily be packaged into a mobile app for many platforms. One way to package HTML into an app is using the PhoneGap code library.

PhoneGap Build

PhoneGap BuildbotIf the idea of a “code library” sends shivers down your spine, fret not, because there is a web service called PhoneGap Build. PhoneGap Build has a friendly user interface and does most of the work on the server translating your content into apps, so you don’t have worry about “compiling” or other such developer activities. And, it’s affordable!

Getting Started

Lynda.com has two courses in their video library featuring PhoneGap Build.

Up and Running with PhoneGap Build

Watch the Up and Running with PhoneGap Build course on Lynda >>

Creating an iPad App with HTML5 and PhoneGap Build

Watch the Creating an iPad App with HTML5 and PhoneGap Build course on Lynda >>

Don’t have a Lynda.com account? Get 30 days of free unlimited access.

The Best Part of Using HTML: You Don’t Have to Know HTML

You don’t have to know how to code HTML (or JavaScript, or CSS) to create HTML content. You can use a visual tool like Adobe Dreamweaver or Adobe InDesign in conjunction with our InDesign to HTML5 exporter.

Bonus Tip

If you’re looking for a way create an app for an Amazon Kindle Fire, you don’t even need PhoneGap Build. You can submit your HTML content directly to Amazon and they’ll do the packaging for you.

How to Create Scrolling Chapters for the Baker Framework Using InDesign and in5

Justin | design,extensions,HTML5,InDesign,iOS,Tutorials | Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Several in5 (InDesign to HTML5) users have asked about creating long chapters within their Baker Framework ebooks, so I put together the following video to demonstrate how this can be accomplished using InDesign and in5.

The technique in the video is enhanced by some additional features that have been added to a recent update to in5.

Baker-specific enhancements for in5 v2.1.3

  • Vertically scrolling (tall) pages within Baker now return to the top automatically when leaving the page.
  • Added script to merge multiple pages into a vertically scrolling (tall) page.
  • Switched on zoomable by default in book.json file for HPUB.
  • Removed viewport meta tag from HPUB thumbnail page.

The Baker Framework is a free code library that allows you to publish beautiful, interactive books (or magazine issues) to the iPad and iPhone.

To start creating ebooks from InDesign today, you can

  1. Download the framework and
  2. Get a free copy of in5 >>

Video: InDesign to iPad App using in5 and Baker Framework

Justin | HTML5,InDesign,iOS | Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Just added this one to our in5 demos page:

Where does your project fall in the ebook Spectrum?

Justin | design,HTML5,InDesign,iOS | Monday, March 18th, 2013

It’s a brave new world in digital publishing. How does one decide where to commit precious resources at the start of the project?

Enter: the ebook Spectrum (or Digital Publishing Continuum, if you prefer).

ebook_spectrum

If you can determine where your project falls within this spectrum, you’ve overcome a large, practical hurdle.

On the left side of the spectrum are formats like EPUB (non-fixed-layout), which focus on text content and readability. These formats are generally best served on an e-reader like the Amazon Kindle. This kind of device includes reader-friendly features like a display that emits no light (easy on the eyes), and the ability to adjust the size and flow of the text. In this format, where a page breaks is arbitrary. The layout—relative positioning of text and images, colors, specific typefaces, page alignment—is forsaken for the experience of the reader. This end of the spectrum serves a format like the novel quite well, because the page layout is of little consequence in most novels.

On the right end of the spectrum are formats that permit greater layout fidelity (apps, HTML5, HPUB). These formats are best served by light-emitting, highly interactive devices like an iPad or Android Tablet. This end of the spectrum is much better at serving a format like a digital magazine that includes complex graphics, colors, and typefaces, as well as interactivity.

If you know ahead of time what device(s) you’re targeting, it may help you place your project within the spectrum. Once you’ve determined where you project falls on the spectrum, as well as which device(s) you will target, you have a solid foundation for choosing a tool or technology that can help you complete your project successfully.

Let’s looks at a few examples. Let’s start with InDesign as the source of our layout and content because of InDesign’s advanced tooling and flexibility.

  • If your project is solidly on the left end of the spectrum, your InDesign project simply has to be laid out as connected textframes, and you can export directly to EPUB.
  • If your project falls on the right end of the spectrum and you’re producing regular periodicals for paid subscribers (e.g., The New York Times or Martha Stewart Living), then DPS offers you a direct route out of InDesign.
  • If your project falls on the right end of the spectrum, but you want/need to distribute your content to a wider array of devices, or you don’t have paid subscribers, or you don’t want go through an app store (or can’t), etc…well, this is the reason we created in5 (InDesign to HTML5).
  • Going the other direction, perhaps your project needs are extremely specific. Perhaps you’re only targeting Apple devices. Apple provides a free design tool called iBooks Author.
  • Or perhaps you need interactivity that exceeds what the current authoring tools offer. In this case, developing a custom app may be your best option.

Because digital publishing is still in a form of infancy, the road to a successful project can be a long and winding one. If you can determine where a project falls in the spectrum, you can start addressing some of your technical needs early and save yourself some trouble and unnecessary effort.

So, where does your project fall in the ebook spectrum?

in5 v1.1 New Features!

Justin | design,extensions,HTML5,InDesign,iOS | Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Today we’re announcing a few new features for in5, our InDesign to HTML5 exporter!

Here’s the quick list (with more details below):

  • iPad Web App export.
  • Icon option for iPad Web App and web favicon.
  • Button States feature (Rollover and Click States).
  • Support for Scrollable Frame Overlays with text.
  • Option to automatically make overset text scrollable.

(more…)

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