With the big relaunches of the Historical Thesaurus and SCOTS out of the way last week, I returned to some of the other outstanding items on my long-term ‘to do’ list and decided specifically to focus on updating the Grammar app. A few weeks ago Marc’s Course 20 students tested out the three STELLA apps that I have created and posted their feedback on the course’s Moodle page. There was some very useful feedback, and a recurring theme was that navigation between the exercises and the ‘book’ pages could be better. I was aware myself that this was something of a weak spot in the app – if you are midway through answering an exercise but need help and go to the book pages then your progress in the exercise (and all previous exercises) is lost when you navigate away from the exercise page.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been investigating HTML5’s ‘Local Storage’ facilities – basically the next generation of client-side storage that replaces cookies. Local Storage allows a web page to store any number of ‘key/value’ pairs on the user’s computer (or phone) that can then be reloaded whenever the user returns to the page. This very simple mechanism greatly enhances client-side applications by essentially allowing client-side scripts to have a client-side database.
My plan was to use HTML5 Local Storage to store a user’s exercise answers so that these could be reloaded and used to repopulate the exercise whenever the user returned to the exercise in question – either after navigating to the ‘book’ part of the app or after closing the app and opening it another time. Firstly I added a very simple local storage check – storing the name of the exercise page the user is currently viewing and then checking for this when a ‘book’ page is loaded, adding a link to the exercise page if the variable is set and thus providing a better navigation pathway between exercises and book pages.