[LON-CAPA-users] Lon-Capa, PDFs and iOS

Mills, Douglas G dmills at illinois.edu
Thu Jan 30 11:53:40 EST 2014

Hey All,

I’m finally getting around to trying to address the problem iPad and other iOS users have accessing PDFs embedded in a frame on a web page — so for example any PDF uploaded by an instructor into a folder in Lon-Capa. You’ve probably come across this — the iOS Safari somehow does not allot the correct size frame to the PDF (I think is the root issue), 1-finger scrolling moves the browser around and 2-finger scrolling scrolls the page up and down — but NOT the PDF inside the frame, so all the student can see of a pdf is what appears in the frame when it initially loads.

A couple of solutions I’ve come up with to address this:

1. Use a Composite Page rather than a folder — uploading PDFs to a Composite Page provides links directly to the PDF so that it opens in the full browser window rather than being embedded in the Lon-Capa framework and from there iOS users can scroll up and down or if they prefer open it in a PDF app on their device for annotation.  The downside of this approach is that the Composite Page automatically adds a lot of verbiage and warnings to a download file such as the PDF so, for example, when adding a PDF entitled “Lecture 01” to the Composite page, I end up with all this:

2. It IS possible to determine the path to a file such as a PDF uploaded directly into a course site (as opposed to authoring space)  and from there to create your own HTML page with links directly to the PDFs to accomplish the same as in approach 1 but with full control over the look of the page linking to them. The downside with this approach is that so far the only way I’ve found to find the path to the PDFs uploaded to the course is to upload them to a hidden folder then click on each and look at the code for the page they are embedded in to find the path direct to the file itself. That’s not a huge deal but ideally I’m looking for a solution the instructors themselves will be responsible for once they learn how to do it, and this seems like too much overhead for many of them.

So I’m looking for feedback and suggestions on either or both of these approaches, OR if you’ve solved this problem in some other way, I’ll be happy to hear about that as well. Again, I’m looking for ways that instructors developing their course sites can make their PDFs available to students in such a way that they can access them and even make optimum use of them on mobile devices (should note here that while I know this is an issue on iOS devices, I’ve tested also on a Motorola Zoom I have access to and the pdf does not open in the Lon-Capa frame at all, but does work as a Composite page. I’m sure the version of Android on the Zoom is outdated, but do not have access to newer Android devices right now for testing).

Thanks as always for input and guidance!


Douglas Mills
Director of Instructional Technologies
Department of Chemistry
University of Illinois
dmills at illinois.edu<mailto:dmills at illinois.edu>
(217) 244-5739

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