Using Mathematica to Generate “The Elements” iPad App

The most intriguing part of this Popular Science article on the creation of the iPad app “The Elements” is the all-too-brief mention of the creation of a higher-level Mathematica program to generate the pages:

In about 7 of the precious 60 available days, I was able to create from scratch, using Mathematica, an interactive magic object page layout tool that designer Ann Grafelman was able to use to design all 118 individual element pages in record time.

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A complete rendering pass for the e-book requires running eight parallel Mathematica processes for a couple of days on the fastest available 8-core Macintosh. But it is a completely automated process, turning a terabyte of image archives into a finished, fully operational 1.9 gigabyte iPad app. This complete automation meant that we were able to experiment with dozens of different layouts and styles, concentrating on creativity, not the grunt work of manual file processing, yet still be able to see the finished book in action after each tweak.

Behold the double-edged sword of iPhone’s new restrictions on code generation and translation layers! While the intention is to avoid a flood of banal and bloated marketing games, your effect is to outlaw the creation of a “book that Harry Potter would check out of Hogwarts.”

3 thoughts on “Using Mathematica to Generate “The Elements” iPad App

  1. The application itself wasn’t written in Mathematica. Mathematica was used to create the resources used by the application. The iPhone SDK change doesn’t affect this app at all.

    larry: The video says that, at the very least, they generated the animations for the Tom Lehrer song. That’s code generation and so, prima facie, forbidden.

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