When Dr David Sheppard approached Clearleft recently, the first thing he asked was “How much will it cost to build me an app?”. You probably know the answer to that question already. “It depends”.
Dr Sheppard had written his eighty NICE guidance one-pagers in Word. Rather than convert these straight to HTML, we reformatted the pages using Markdown so they could be more easily edited by non-technical authors in future. We linked the pages into a typographically elegant responsive website. As we did so, we made technical optimisations including ensuring text would appear immediately without waiting for web fonts to download.
The final part of the process was enabling the whole site would work as an offline app. For this we turned to an admittedly deprecated technology called AppCache. We used this to make your browser download the entire website (<2 Mb) the first time you visit it. If you’re a knowledgable developer you might well be rolling your eyes in dismay at the mention of AppCache, but for a static, infrequently changing site like NICE One-Pagers, AppCache is just fine, not least of all because it is supported by just about all devices including iOS (which at the time of writing is more than you can say about its grown up sibling Service Workers).
Ultimately, thanks to the efforts of Dr Sheppard, healthcare professionals now have summarised NICE guidance available at a glance as they do their rounds. The entire web app is open source and made available to the world, at no cost to the NHS, by using the power of web technologies, some design nous, a little critical thinking, and a good dose of enthusiasm from the Clearleft team.