Learning Technology

Xenith Project Update: April 2012

May 4th, 2012 at 11:05

We’re a good way into the work on the Xenith Project now, and time for an update. The project is progressing really well, and we’ve achieved an awful lot in a  very short space of time, setting the project up nicely and answering a lot of the initial questions we had about approaching the HTML5 delivery.

We met with Alistair McNaught from Jisc TechDis to talk about accessibility requirements, and how best to maintain the high levels of native accessibility we built into the Xerte runtime engine. In theory this ought be a lot more straightforward, for example, we can use the browsers’ native controls to change the size and colours of text and the screen size, and we will end up with a much simpler and cleaner user interface as a result. Many thanks to Alistair for his input.

Fay is working on handling the various classes of device we aim to support: desktop PCs, tablets and phones, and allowing the layout to adapt to the different screen sizes and orientations. There is a prototype available here that you can play around with: http://ltdev.nottingham.ac.uk/toolkits/play.html. This is changing frequently as the code develops.

We’ve settled on the technology we want to use, deciding to avoid any server-side languages. One of the features a lot users of Xerte Online Toolkits really like is the ability to export content and have it move easily between different systems. This portability would be difficult if we relied on server-side support in those different environments, so have elected to keep all the processing on the client side in JavaScript.

We thought JQuery would be a good candidate to help with some of the heavy lifting, and so it has proved. We’ve also looked at JQueryUI and Twitter’s Bootstrap libraries which both provide a good set of components that we’d find useful when we get into developing the various templates.

Ben Butchart and Niall Munro from EDINA visited for a couple of days last week: many thanks to Ben and Niall for a really enjoyable and useful workshop. We gleaned some very useful insight into coping with the various media formats, and found the discussions over the two days very reassuring with respect to the approaches we are taking. We worked through a couple of templates together, and reviewed all of the current templates in the suite – and didn’t find anything that looked too be too challenging to recreate in HTML that we currently do in Flash.

Over the next month we anticipate finalising the interface design: we’ll publish a link to the prototype, then we can start working on supporting the various templates.

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