Prometheus, thief of light, the giver of light, bound by the gods, must have been a book. —Mark Z. Danielewski

In the winter of 2010, Apple announced an e-Book application that would launch in the immediate future to help writers create content for its iOS and macOS operating systems and devices. Many people in the Apple-verse saw this as an amazing opportunity to finally crank out that textbook for their classroom or solicit a local artist to visualize that graphic novel they’ve been talking about for years. Unfortunately, the software only worked on Apple computers and published, you guessed it, only on the iTunes marketplace. After a few years, and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, the software never really took off.

I spoke with many individuals throughout the publishing business as well as people in line at Home Depot and asked them what they were looking for. What I learned was that people would love an opportunity to create gorgeous published materials, but is limited to selling on a closed, complicated market just wouldn’t cut it. Teachers, local artisans, and just folks wanting to create a basic cookbook would be forced to administer content through a credit-card only market. It substantially cut into their profits and was very complicated. And oh yeah, most 4th graders do not carry Visa.

One of our sister companies, Big Rocket Productions, was looking for an easy way to export content into eBook publishing. The book had to have the ability to publish HTML5 as its’ native codebase. JavaScript was selected as the ubiquitous code to ensure the content came to life. eBooks were most often locked into a fixed page at that point, and we argued that the page composition should include an opportunity to move in a responsive manner.

Responsive design can be tricky. Content must directly be linked with the media that helped explain the concepts. Content that would scroll for a very long time without offering a sense of progress through it would seem very hard to follow and almost impossible to read.
We studied publishing applications like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, as well as Adobe InDesign. We combined them into a desktop interface that would help folks publish quickly and efficiently. The key was to use interface elements that mirrored applications that others would like to use. The application included components that would help team members collaborate within the document rather than solicit an array of applications that would take them far away from the production process.

The application was a success in so many ways but never made it past the concept stage. We did not have a large enough team to seed ideas from a multitude of personas and eventually. The concept was shelved for future development in 2013.

  • Client XplorePaks LLC.
  • Date August 19, 2019
  • Tags eLearning, User Experience, User Interface

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