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Apple creates AdLib framework to enable rich iPad web apps

Apple has created a new development framework to enable rich web apps for iPad using simple HTML, CSS and JavaScript, following its previous efforts to do the same for the iPhone and within iTunes.

The new AdLib framework for iPad, detailed by web developer Jim Hoskins, is used by the built in iPad User Guide within Safari to present a touch-based scrolling list of topics in a split view that also presents a series of subtopics for each subject.

Hoskins wrote that "the framework weighed in at 4,300 lines of code, and was unmistakably an Apple-born API. Every class and constant was prefixed with the letters 'AD' and some of the classes include ADTabBarController, ADScrollPane, ADViewController, ADView, ADToolbar, and dozens more."

In a short video posted on YouTube, Hoskins presented the iPad User Guide within the iPad Simulator, being used with a mouse. iPad owners can peruse the Guide themselves by bringing up bookmarks in Safari.

A variety of frameworks

This makes the AdLib framework a very close sibling to the PastryKit for iPhone and TuneKit, another web standards framework used to create iTunes Extras and iTunes LPs content. AppleInsider reported on the TuneKit framework back in September of last year, and PastryKit was identified in a parallel article as being related effort developed for iPhone.

Just as with TuneKit and PastryKit, there isn't any public documentation for AdLib, nor even any hints as to what the frameworks "AD" prefix letters stand for. But because it's written in JavaScript and CSS and HTML, the framework (like its earlier relatives) isn't too difficult to learn how to apply in creating new, original web apps for iPad, just as developers have experimented with using PastryKit and TuneKit.

What's Apple's strategy?

The fact that Apple is building these frameworks and not making a public announcement about how to apply them, or even releasing full documentation, indicates they're still under development internally.

It is possible the company will unveil a unified new strategy for developing rich web applications entirely using web standards (and avoiding the need for proprietary plugin add ons like Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight), and could even release a new development tool (or expand upon its existing DashCode) in order to provide web developers with the ability to quickly and efficiently create mobile web apps that support touch, Apple's Human Interface Guidelines for its mobile devices, and users' expected behaviors.

The AD naming scheme for the iPad framework may also be linked to iAd, the rumored name of Apple's new mobile advertising network, as it could be used to deliver interactive ad content using web standards, much as Flash is commonly used by web advertisers on the desktop.

More details on the AdLib framework and iAd program may be presented in tomorrow's unveiling of iPhone OS 4.0.