Inkling Engineering’s Dark Ops

I loved what Inkling was doing before I started working here. But as a JavaScript guy, it wasn’t immediately apparent where I’d be applying my skills when I joined. I thought I might be helping with internal tools or possibly small pieces of the Inkling application itself. As it turns out, many new web technologies (HTML5, CSS3, etc.) are at the heart of what makes Inkling tick, and I’ve been working deeply inside the guts of what you use on your iPad.

As mentioned in previous posts, Inkling’s content uses a custom specification called S9ML, which includes a subset of HTML5. Much of Inkling’s reader content can be viewed as an HTML document like any other. This means that virtually anything possible on a website is possible within an Inkling title.

HTML by itself, of course, isn’t terribly exciting. Web developers rely on JavaScript code to add interactivity to their sites. Likewise, we use JavaScript to bring a layer of basic interactivity to the content displayed inside Inkling. You might not know it, but you’re using JavaScript when you take a note, make a highlight or tap on an audio button. The display and interaction of these features is handled with JavaScript, and it may then communicate further with other layers of the software.

Of course, Inkling content is quite a bit more complicated than a traditional webpage. We don’t use plain old JavaScript. With the help of the MooTools JavaScript library, we’ve constructed a whole software layer that’s tied deeply into the native application. For example, when you make a note or highlight, not only does the JavaScript update your screen to reflect this, it also seamlessly passes information (things like the highlight location) back to the application so that your annotations can be synchronized in real time with the Inkling cloud.

Highlights and notes are, of course, only the basics of what the web application engineering team does at Inkling. Like covert agents, we sneak in, do fun and technically challenging things inside the application, and slip out unnoticed. The user never knows we were there. (Isn’t that how technology is supposed to work?)

The advent of HTML5, CSS3 and a number of other new technologies has led to a veritable revolution in web programming. I’m always delighted (and, admittedly, often a little surprised) at how we’re able to use these technologies inside Inkling to create a simple yet powerful user experience.

We’re always hiring great talent to help us with our mission of building great software. If you’re ready for some covert operations of your own, that is…