Tag Archives: Objective-C

Flash vs HTML vs iOS

I honestly don’t know where Flash as a technology is going to be in a few years. Yes, we’ve seen the technology roadmap provided by Adobe, but I don’t honestly get the feeling that Flash is long for this world, which is sad.

I started out with Director and moved to Flash a million years ago. Building interface elements and widgets, moving into entire sites and then serious applications. The tools got better with time, the language when graduated to AS3 made a whole lot more sense to everyone, and things were humming along. And then change blew in from the side fills and now it seems that Flash is choking on it’s own vomit in the back of the van.

The one thing remaining cool in my quick take on e landscape is notion of author once and run on iOS and Android. So you’ve got AIR for Android doing it’s thing and some magic compiler doing it’s thing for iOS. You’re not authoring to the languages yourself which always left me feeling a little weird as a developer. Always releases behind without direct access to powerful features that you might need to subclass, etc.

I haven’t touched Flash in well over a year. I’ve been straight Objective-C, iOS, with a smattering of HTML/PHP/JavaScript. If you spend a little time with iOS and Objective-C, I think you pick it up quickly and love it. Personally I love Xcode. I’ve struggled with signing things in the past, but as a tool it’s freaking amazing.

Anyway, sorry to witness the decline of Flash. Happy I was part of it’s pinnacle.

Objective-C: UIButtons and Event Propagation / for(;;){

UIBUttons that won’t stop event propagation

Today I needed to add a few UIButtons to an interface I had created as a Storyboard. However I am heavily using touchesBegan, touchesMoved, and touchesEnded. UIButtons swallow touch events like that and won’t allow them pass through into my touches<Condition> code. That was a problem for me. You could subclass a UIButton and use it, but I am rather fond of placing some elements myself into a Storyboard. I found a nice solution online. Before the implementation in your view controller, add this code (I think I found it on StackOverflow somewhere):

#pragma mark PassTouch

@interface UIButton (PassTouch)

@implementation UIButton (PassTouch)
- (void)touchesBegan:(NSSet *)touches withEvent:(UIEvent *)event
    [super touchesBegan:touches withEvent:event];
    [self.nextResponder touchesBegan:touches withEvent:event];
- (void)touchesMoved:(NSSet *)touches withEvent:(UIEvent *)event
    [super touchesMoved:touches withEvent:event];
    [self.nextResponder touchesMoved:touches withEvent:event];
- (void)touchesEnded:(NSSet *)touches withEvent:(UIEvent *)event
    [super touchesEnded:touches withEvent:event];
    //[self.nextResponder touchesEnded:touches withEvent:event];

This was a lot easier than subclassing a button, etc. The only thing is that all of your UIButtons are now going to pass events along. I commented that one line out in touchesEnded for the button since that bit was interfering with some of my code. Handy stuff that.

A for loop that won’t quit

I wanted to use a while loop for something (just a random number that wouldn’t be a repeat of the previous number). I stumbled upon some documentation that showed something I haven’t seen before. This is a style thing really as there are other ways to achieve the same and commonly needed results.

    int rndValue;
        rndValue = 0 + arc4random() % ([songsArray count] - 0);
        if(rndValue != currentRandomTrack){
            currentRandomTrack = rndValue;

Check out that for loop. Until that condition is met to break, that for loop will run until someone kills the battery. Just another way to do it, but I hadn’t seen it before so I thought I’d pass it along. Pretty cool looking with the Snidley Whiplash eyes in there.

That’s all – have a great weekend.

iOS: indexing local HTML files contents for search

Situation: You’re serving up a bunch of local HTML files in your iOS application as content in some fashion, and you’d like to be able to give the user the opportunity to be able to search that file, and all other possible files, for a keyword. They would be presented with some form of user interface to allow them to choose which page to jump to in the available pages.

I have seen many javascript examples around where you include a method in your HTML files, but that really only works for the HTML presently residing within your UIWebView control. You want the user to be able to search throughout all the files.

My quick solution does not use a .plist file (but it could). It also doesn’t take into account page titles, etc. All I am capturing are which keywords are associated with which URLs so that I can provide a starting point for this kind of search functionality.

So this is just a jumping off point, but it’s using NSLinguisticTagger to provide “nouns” to use as keywords. Since we’re using HTML I want to be able to strip out all of the tags easily. My local method currently looks like this:

- (NSString *)flattenHTML:(NSString *)html {
    NSScanner *thescanner;
    NSString *text = nil;
    thescanner = [NSScanner scannerWithString:html];
    while ([thescanner isAtEnd] == NO) {
        // find start of tag
        [thescanner scanUpToString:@"<" intoString:nil];
        // find end of tag
        [thescanner scanUpToString:@">" intoString:&text];
        // replace the found tag with a space
        //(you can filter multi-spaces out later if you wish)
        html = [html stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:
                [NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@>", text] 
                 withString:@" "];
    return [html stringByTrimmingCharactersInSet:
            [NSCharacterSet whitespaceCharacterSet]];

Now in my indexing method, I deploy the guts. I am creating an NSLinguisticTagger so I can check for nouns, getting all the .html files in my application as an array, looping through the array getting the path for the file, all the contents of the file as a string, stripping out all the HTML tags from the string, finding the nouns, assigning mutableArrays for each noun, etc. It’s kind of slick.

- (void)indexAllHTML
    NSLinguisticTagger *tagger = [[NSLinguisticTagger alloc] 
                                  initWithTagSchemes:[NSArray arrayWithObjects: NSLinguisticTagSchemeTokenType,

    //Parse through the HTML files.

    NSMutableArray *index = [[NSMutableArray alloc] init];
    myDictionary = [[NSMutableDictionary alloc] init];

    NSArray *pages = [[NSBundle mainBundle] pathsForResourcesOfType:@".html" inDirectory:nil];
    for(int i=0; i<[pages count]; i++){
        NSString *path = [pages objectAtIndex:i];
        NSString *pageData = [NSString stringWithContentsOfFile:path encoding:NSUTF8StringEncoding error:nil];
        NSArray *foo = [path componentsSeparatedByString:@"/"];
        NSString *shortPath = [foo lastObject];

        //We want all nouns for the pages to build an index from.

        pageData = [self flattenHTML:pageData]; 

        [tagger setString:pageData];
        NSRange textRange = NSMakeRange(0, [pageData length]);

        [tagger enumerateTagsInRange:textRange scheme:NSLinguisticTagSchemeLexicalClass options:0 usingBlock:^(NSString *tag, NSRange tokenRange, NSRange sentenceRange, BOOL *stop) {

            if(tag == NSLinguisticTagNoun){
                NSString *word = [pageData substringWithRange:tokenRange];

                //Trim out stragglers we don't want to be indexed. Your milage will vary!

                if(![word isEqualToString:@"reg"] && ![word isEqualToString:@"III"] && ![word isEqualToString:@"labeled"]
                   && ![word isEqualToString:@"are"] && ![word isEqualToString:@"13"]){
                    //NSLog(@"%d. %@", i, [pageData substringWithRange:tokenRange]);

                    if([myDictionary objectForKey:word] == nil){

                        //key doesn't exist yet, create nsmutablearray for it.

                        NSMutableArray *anArray = [[NSMutableArray alloc] init];
                        [anArray addObject:shortPath];
                        [myDictionary setObject:anArray forKey:word];
                    } else {

                        //key already exists, add to the nsmutablearray in it.

                        NSMutableArray *arr = [myDictionary objectForKey:word];

                        //No repeats for same url. Why bother.

                        if(![arr containsObject:shortPath]){
                           [arr addObject:shortPath]; 

                    if(![index containsObject:word]){
                        [index addObject:word];

    [index sortUsingSelector:@selector(localizedCaseInsensitiveCompare:)];

    //Some random logging so you get the picture.

    NSLog(@"done finding nouns. Number nouns = %d", [index count]); 
    NSLog(@"1: %@, 20: %@", [index objectAtIndex:0], [index objectAtIndex:19]);

    NSLog(@"power paths count: %d", [[myDictionary objectForKey:@"power"] count]);
    NSMutableArray *temp = [myDictionary objectForKey:@"power"];
    NSLog(@"first path: %@, 2: %@, 3: %@", [temp objectAtIndex:0], [temp objectAtIndex:1], [temp objectAtIndex:2]);
    NSEnumerator *enumerator = [myDictionary keyEnumerator];
    NSString *myKey;
    while(myKey = [enumerator nextObject]){
        NSLog(@"> %@ :: %@\n", myKey, [myDictionary objectForKey:myKey]);

And there you have it. All your HTML pages indexed (right now by short path only).

Titles for the pages aren’t retained in this code. I’ve run this on about 80 HTML files as a test and it all logs in around 236ms on an iPad2. Not too shabby.

The .plist could be faster in the end, but for now there isn’t enough of a hit to speed or memory to warrant storage like that.