Interactive eMags on Low-speed Connections

Nov 28, 2012

Being connected to the Internet at broadband speeds has gotten so common that I'm surprised to find myself in spots with no connection. Surely I can see YouTube videos on my phone from a cave deep in the Rocky Mountains?

A reader recently pointed out that broadband Internet isn't part of her daily life. She loves the peace and solitude in the country, and her Internet connection is still dial-up. When she visits a larger town she takes advantage of their high-speed wifi to download what she needs, then takes it home to enjoy at her leisure.

Still, she loves spinning yarn and knitting socks and many of the other subjects that Interweave has explored with our eMags. Was there anything for her to enjoy, even without a fast connection?

The Immersive Flash Experience

The yarn review in the Fall issue of Sockupied includes interactive pop-ups with product information and web links.
When we were first deciding what Sockupied would be, we thought a lot about what you should be able to download with your initial purchase and what you'd need to visit the Internet to view. (I used the "airplane mode" as my standard guide.)

Instead of a slideshow function, we've included buttons that let you toggle between multiple images.
For the Mac and PC versions, we decided that all of the videos and patterns listed in the table of contents should be right there ready for you to use. Including the videos in the "package" makes the download larger but lets you use them any time you like. The patterns are included as PDFs, which can be saved to a tablet device or printed for convenience.

Websites that we mentioned, such as yarns or designers' websites, are available through an Internet link. And since you'd already downloaded the whole eMag, you can always close a web page that's taking too long to load and go back to the app-no clicking a back button to find your place again.

As time has gone by, we've developed a more consistent style to let you know which text will link to the web and which will jump to another part of the eMag. We use shapes and colors to indicate which buttons are active, and we use a particular type style to show which links will take you to the Internet. To show interactivity and links within an issue, we use the same type for the links but in gray.

The Portable iPad

The first iPad versions gave us some fun new challenges. For one thing, opening a web link on the iPad launches a limited browser window inside the app. You can still close the browser window if it's taking too long, and you can tap a little arrow to open the page in a full browser. (Still, for the impatient among us—by which I mean me—the ability to browse the app at the same time that a page loads is something I miss on the iPad.)

The other big difference between the Flash and iPad versions is that we can't embed a PDF in the iPad version. For the first few issues, we simply hosted the PDFs, requiring an Internet connection to download them. Once they're open on the iPad, you can save them for use in a number of apps (including Knit Companion). If you have a printer connected to your iPad, you can even print from there.

View the pattern as a printable PDF or embedded in the eMag.
We weren't completely comfortable with this solution, though. What if you were in airplane mode, needles and yarn at the ready, but hadn't saved the PDF? One of our production designers came up with the perfect solution: Include the pattern both ways. Beginning with LaceKnits and continuing in our future issues, the knitting eMags include the pattern displayed on the iPad screen and hosted in print-friendly, portable PDF.

In other words, Sockupied and the other eMags include plenty of features that don't require an internet connection after the initial download whether you're on a Mac, PC, or iPad. And we try to improve our eMags with every issue, so if you have suggestions on making them more user-friendly, please email us.

Cheers,


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