Science Writing for the Small Screen with Osjourno-Webapplate

Short Form


Science writers targeting the small screen are faced with a number of challenges. To address them, I've developed a workflow centered on RMarkdown authoring tools and the Mozilla Webapplate web app deployment framework.


Science writers targeting the small screen are faced with a number of challenges:

  • Distracted readers – readers may well be multitasking. Your readers may well have “one eyeball and one thumb” to devote to reading.
  • Typing is slow and inaccurate. We can’t expect a reader to do more than simple gestures on a touch screen.
  • Device constraints – even the larger smartphones are constrained by processor, RAM, data storage and bandwidth capacity. Internet connectivity may be spotty or nonexistent.

The approach I’m going to talk about focuses on tools for delivering HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript articles and even books to small-screen devices as apps. The focus is on Firefox OS phones, where these technologies form the native environment.

I’ll talk about the authoring workflow, deployment and some of the tools I’ve developed for helping users learn complex scientific material on small screens. Specifically, I’ll be talking about the RMarkdown authoring platform and the Webapplate HTML/CSS/JavaScript deployment framework.


science writing, html, css, javascript, Firefox OS, Markdown, WebApplate

Speaking experience

I've been speaking since I was a child. ;-) But seriously, I used to give sales presentations and demos for high-performance computing, I was on Jeopardy! and I was in 25 plays when I was a graduate student - in applied mathematics.