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IOS Reader View


2014/12/29

I've enjoyed using "Reader View" on my iPhone and iPad. If you don't know what that is, it's similar to the what you get with the "Printer Friendly Version" link I have on these pages. It strips away ads and most text decoration and can be very helpful for reading, especially on small devices like my old iPhone 4S.

As some pages have Reader View and some do not, I first assumed that this must be some magic markup that Apple had specified and IOS would look for to determine what to show and what to strip. To my surprise, I found that Reader View popped up on my own pages, and I certainly had not added any special markup here.

There had to be more to it and Googling quickly turned up How to enable Safari Reader on your site? which explains that Safari on IOS is simply looking for some tag that wraps <p> or <br /> tags. If your webpages have block level elements like <div> and a sufficient amount of apparent text wrapped therein, Reader View will be offered.

That's great - I don't have to do anything, it was already working!

Except..

Well, except that it doesn't work quite as I'd want it to. It includes the main text of a page like this, but it also skips things in odd ways and includes things I don't necessarily care about.

For example, on my home page it skips right by all the links to new articles and unhelpfully adds this text at the end:

Reader view inconsistency

More confusingly, its behavior is different on my iPhone and iPad. More wrapped content will show up on the iPad. That's understandable, of course. I started trying to make changes to get what I'd want, but quickly realized the futility of it. There are reasons why things are laid out as they are; interfering for the sake of Reader View can break the site in other ways.

It would be nice if Apple also looked for a marker like <!-- Start Reader View --> or <!-- No Reader View --> for text we'd rather they leave out, but they don't. It would be even better if HTML had a block level <nitty-gritty> tag or the equivalent <read-my-mind-here>!

By the way, this page shows the source code for Reader View; it gives me a headache.



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