They call it Pugpig (news, site) and it just might revolutionize how we publish content to iOS-powered mobile devices. Pugpig is an open source framework that enables you to publish HTML5 content in the form of a magazine, book or newspaper to iPhone and iPad devices. It's slick and feels like you are using a native app (we tested the it on the iPad). Is this the future of mobile publishing?

Pugpig -- Hybrid Mobile Publishing Framework

Apple's app store sports a number of news apps these days. Most are based on static images of pages that are overlaid with a set of interactive elements. This is the approach followed by Adobe, Woodwing and many others. Some are written entirely natively using iOS Core Text, with a few based on HTML. Pugpig is an HTML reader for iOS. It's basically a hybrid -- part native application, part web app, designed to prove that you can have an HTML-based app that feels like it's native.

Pugpig was created on the premise that HTML is the publishing technology of the future (and there are many who will agree). You use the Pugpig framework to build your own HTML-based magazine or newspaper, all you need to know is HTML, CSS and Javascript.

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Pugpig Aims to Disrupt iOS Publishing 

This is not simply a static magazine or book you are creating (Apple’s Guidelines won’t let you submit a static book to the App Store), you must build something interactive or dynamic. You can incorporate different types of interactivity and social features -- such as pulling in a Twitter feed and offering sharing via Twitter or Facebook, provide animations, translate content on the fly and lots more.

Pugpig features include:

  • Ultra-smooth transitions between HTML5 pages.
  • Support for iPads and iPhones running iOS 4.2 and above.
  • Render any HTML/CSS/JavaScript that Mobile Safari does.
  • Both single- and multi-orientation support.
  • Vertical scrolling within pages.
  • Smooth native page navigator.
  • Internal links recognised.

Your app sits on top of the Pugpig framework. It can be customized and extended. For example, you can link to your own data source, change the navigation and look and feel. It can also be multi-lingual -- for example, the sample app I tested leverages the AJAX API for the Microsoft Translator.

Additional Pugpig benefits are its low memory footprint and ability to store a lot magazine/newspaper editions within the device, for easy offline viewing. You can offer your app in either the App Store or the new iOS 5 Newsstand (integration with the framework is in progress now).

Here's a video to help you get a feel for what it can do:  

Pugpig iOS Publishing in Action

Pugpig currently works for iPad and iPhone, but Android support is in the works -- we're told you could see testing builds in a few months.

Creators of Pugpig: The Kaldor Group

The Kaldor Group was founded by Jonny Kaldor and Jon Marks (a CMSWire contributor). The two met in 1999 working on a Vignette project at Accenture, then continued their working relationship later on at NewsCorp where Jonny lead the team (and recruited Jon) for a (now shelved) large digital publishing project. The two decided it was time to take all the knowledge they had learned about HTML newspapers and magazines and develop their own framework. Thus the Kaldor Group, and Pugpig, was born.

I asked Jon where the name came from. His response:

Our application is a hybrid iOS / HTML5 application. And a pugpig is a hybrid between a pug and a pig. Also, it sounds snappy and, importantly, the domain was available. Once our designer did the logo, we all fell in love with him

Pugpig is the first framework to come from this team, but it won't be the last. The focus now though is to continue to develop the features and capabilities of Pugpig. The current release is open sourced, but work is also being done on integrations for large, paying clients (e.g., server platform and Web CMS integration, integration with iOS 5 Newsstand, a social sharing native model and more). Jon indicated that they are also building a server environment to support those that don't want to use their own platform.

A New Wave of Mobile Publishing

Pugpig is not the only HTML5 publishing framework available for the iPad. The Baker Framework is a toolset for publishing interactive eBooks on the iPad/iPhone. But the team at the Kaldor Group claims a better experience via smooth scrolling. You'll have to test a few out to believe it, but I will say, I couldn't have asked for a better experience when I tested the sample app. I actually asked on twitter if there were any really smooth HTML-based iPad News/Magazine apps are in the App Store. The only response was from @terraflop for Project Mag.

There has been a lot of work on the pure web application side as well with a number of different projects working on cross device solutions. The jQuery mobile application framework project is an example. It provides the ability to create a cross-device web application that can leverage the touch interfaces of all the popular smartphones today (interesting to note that you can use jQuery Mobile inside Pugpig). To see how a mobile web app behaves, check out FT.com on your iPad.

The options for mobile content delivery are quickly developing. The decision you make will have a lot to do with the content you're delivering and how you want users to interact with it.

You can download the beta release -- get started here or check out this How to video to get started: