Developing Web Applications for the iPhone
This article will explain what you can and cannot do in a customized iPhone Web site
By Matthew David
The initial Software Developers Kit Apple has given the world for the iPhone is Safari. There are some extensions and caveats when developing AJAX solutions for the iPhone. This article will explain what you can and cannot do in a customized iPhone Web site.
The basics of iPhone Web development - Apple's Safari
While Safari does lack plug-in support, the very good support for all other Web standards is a welcome surprise. Indeed, tests such as the Acid 2.0 Web Standards tests, demonstrates that the iPhone version of Safari supports more standards than Microsoft's desktop version of Internet Explorer. The many different mobile Web browsers do not compare to iPhone. As the commercial says, "it's just the Internet."
Developing Web sites for the iPhone
Support for all of these standards is great news. Of particular interest is support for AJAX technologies supporting XMLHTTPRequest. The XMLHTTPRequest allows you to post data back to a Web Server without having to refresh the whole page. This allows for the creation of complex applications in a Web page.
If you are looking to develop Web solutions for Safari on the iPhone then two very good solutions you can use are Adobes Dreamweaver CS 3 and Microsofts Expression Web. Both tools have very strong support for XHTML and CSS. Dreamweaver does come with additional support for Spry, Adobes Open Source AJAX library.
As you might expect, Safari on the iPhone does support GIF, PNG and JPG image formats. It also supports TIFF image formats. You will want to restrict your file sizes to less than 8MB for GIF, PNG and TIFF image formats. Due to the way JPG images are drawn on the iPhone, you can have a JPG up to 128MB.
The document reader on the iPhone allows you to read Adobe Acrobat (PDF), Microsoft Word (DOC) and Excel (XLS) files. You can link to these file types in your Web pages. When Safari comes to these file formats a new page will open and the built in reader will present the document to you.
These are all tools you can use to make it easier to develop integrated iPhone solutions.
What to watch out for
Allow your users to easily double tap their way through your screen. Double tap will allow content inside of a table or DIV tag to zoom up and fill the whole screen. This technique is easier to navigate with then relying on the user resizing using their thumb and forefinger in a pincer movement.
Many of the technologies make sense. For instance, it is hard to ?hover your finger over a link to active a ?hover style. These specific technologies require a mouse.
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