Seven days with Titanium – day 5 – GPS and Maps

This doesn’t need any kind of introduction. You can use the location on the devices to find the user’s place and act accordingly. One thing good to know is that this needs the approval of the user, and for iOs > 3.2 you need to set a purpose property to let Apple know what you need it for.

Titanium.Geolocation.purpose = "GPS user coordinates";

How geolocation works

When you start the app the coordinates are the ones cached on the device, in other words the ones detected at the last time you used the geolocation on your device. Detecting the current position takes time so if you have an app based on geolocation you might want to take this in account to improve the user experience and avoid to get false results.

Titanium.Geolocation provides the needed methods to manage geolocation.

In general the most used method is getCurrentPosition that gives you the current position and fires once and the location event that triggers repeatedly on the location change. To be more clear think you want to log a route the user follow: when the app starts you get its start position then while walking you can get the points of the route with a adjustable granularity.

Titanium.Geolocation.distanceFilter = 10; // set the granularity of the location event
		if (e.error)
                // manage the error
		var longitude = e.coords.longitude;
		var latitude = e.coords.latitude;
		var altitude = e.coords.altitude;
		var heading = e.coords.heading;
		var accuracy = e.coords.accuracy;
		var speed = e.coords.speed;
		var timestamp = e.coords.timestamp;
		var altitudeAccuracy = e.coords.altitudeAccuracy;
                // we use the above data the way we need it
		if (e.error)
                // manage the error
		var longitude = e.coords.longitude;
		var latitude = e.coords.latitude;
		var altitude = e.coords.altitude;
		var heading = e.coords.heading;
		var accuracy = e.coords.accuracy;
		var speed = e.coords.speed;
		var timestamp = e.coords.timestamp;
		var altitudeAccuracy = e.coords.altitudeAccuracy;
               // again we use the gathered data

There are some other methods that can be used like reverseGeocoder, forwardGeocoder, and getCurrentHeading – for compass. Because not all the devices have the GPS location (like iPod) or the compass and because the user can have the location services disabled you have to check if it exists, if it’s enabled and then let the user know about this.

As the documentation page is not complete yet, I suggest you to take a look at the geolocation example that shows very well how to use this.


The maps are created using the Titanium.Map methods. The maps are a little bit complicated but allows you to do some real nice interfaces. You can use a Mapview and add a route to it, or pins(markers) and to the pins to attach popups with images, titles, even “links” o another windows for a more detailed view of the specified place or whatever you may need.

Create a map

var mapview = Titanium.Map.createView({
	mapType: Titanium.Map.STANDARD_TYPE,
	region:{latitude:33.74511, longitude:-84.38993, latitudeDelta:0.5, longitudeDelta:0.5},

Nothing complicated: the constructor can receive different arguments including the annotations (pins), but of course you will have to declare it first.

And this is done like this:

var apple = Titanium.Map.createAnnotation({
	title:"Steve Jobs",
	subtitle:'Cupertino, CA',
	rightButton: 'apple_logo.jpg',
var atlanta = Titanium.Map.createAnnotation({
		title:"Atlanta, GA",
		subtitle:'Atlanta Braves Stadium\nfoo',
		rightButton: Titanium.UI.iPhone.SystemButton.DISCLOSURE,

and the map constructor gets


or later you can add this annotation using


Map events

One thing you need to know is that the events are registered at the map level. So you cannot get a click event on a pin. You will have to get the click event of the mapview ad use the clicksource and the custom property (myId) properties to detect the annotation and what has been clicked (pin, leftbutton, rightbutton, title, subtitle)

	if (evt.source.myid == 3 && evt.clicksource == 'rightButton') {
        // do your stuff


Another thing you can do with a map is to add a route (iOs only for now). Basically you can draw a line on the map specifying the points (gpd point) it needs to pass through.

A route can look like this:

var route = {
	name:"some name",

Where points it’s an array of objects containing latitude and longitude coordinates.

screen capture showing a google map on an iphone screen

Example – add a route to a Mapview

Below is an example that adds a route to a mapview using some readymade coordinates. It will generate something similar to the screenshot in the right.

var center = {latitude:42.30,longitude:-71.18,latitudeDelta:0.03, longitudeDelta:0.1};
var mapview = Titanium.Map.createView({
	mapType: Titanium.Map.STANDARD_TYPE,
	region: center,
points = [
// route object
var route = {
	name:"some name",
// add a route

What next?

A good exercise would be maybe to create an application that it’s watching your position while you are driving or walking and display it on a map. All you would have to do is to use the location event and use the returned value to append a new item to the points array.

Anybody wanna try ? 🙂

Check the Spanish version of this post:
Siete días con Titanium – día 5 – GPS y Mapas

How screen readers speak a page with HTML5 and ARIA

After seeing how AT reads a content generated with CSS pseudo-elements I was thinking to move on to HTML5. And since there are a lot of people saying we should mix HTML5 with ARIA in order to increase the accessibility of a website, then why not test and see what happens?

A piece of code…

<header id="header" role="banner">  
    <div id="logo">Logo here</div>
    <nav role="navigation">
        <ul id="mainnav">........</ul>
<section id="content" role="main">  
    <h1>A level one heading here please</h1>
    <div role="application"><p>Here is where an application will be coded. </p></div> 
    <article role="article">             
            <h2 class="index-headings">Blog entry no 1</h2>
            <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit...</p>
    <article role="article">
            <h2 class="index-headings">Blog entry no 2</h2>
            <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit...</p>
<aside role="complementary">  
<footer id="footer"  role="contentinfo">This is where the footer will stay.</footer>     

This is the page containing both HTML5 elements:

  • header
  • nav
  • section
  • article
  • aside
  • footer

and ARIA roles (learn about ARIA):

  • role=”banner” – for the header element
  • role=”navigation” – for the nav element
  • role=”main” – attached to the section
  • role=”application” – in case I need to add a widget
  • role=”article” – for the article element
  • role=”complementary” – for the aside
  • role=”contentinfo” – for the footer

How NVDA, JAWS and Window Eyes read the HTML5-only version

Long story short, no screen reader noticed the HTML5 elements – as expected. They all behaved like those elements were simple DIVs and read the webpage accordingly.

How NVDA, JAWS and Window Eyes read the HTML5 + ARIA version

Much better this time, ARIA is doing wonders although I don’t understand why Window Eyes doesn’t even pronounce the existence of the headers…I am a newbie in this field so maybe I did something wrong? I do not want to do WE any injustice so let’s say the results are inconclusive regarding this software.

The difference

So what was the difference between the two versions? What ARIA brought from this point of view?

The banner area: role=”banner”

NVDA – “banner landmark logo here navigation landmark list with 4 items visited link home……. ”
JAWS – “banner landmark logo here navigation landmark list with 4 items visited link home……. ” At the beginning it also says that there are 8 landmarks, hurray!!!

The main area: role=”main”

NVDA – “main landmark heading level one …”
JAWS – “main landmark heading level one …”

The application area: role=”application”

NVDA – the application role was not read at all.
JAWS – “application landmark here is where….”

The articles: role=”article”

NVDA – the article was not mentioned in any way.
JAWS – “article landmark heading level….”

The sidebar: role=”complementary”

NVDA the sidebar was read like this: “complementary landmark heading level 2…..”
JAWS – “complementary landmark heading level 2…..”

The footer: role=”contentinfo”

– and the footer: “content info landmark this is where the….”
JAWS – “content info landmark this is where the….”

So far JAWS was the only one able to speak all the landmarks while NVDA missed the article and the application. Like I mentioned before, Window Eyes din not read ARIA elements but maybe it’s just me being a newbie…Your opinion is much appreciated, maybe together we can make it work 🙂

Check the Spanish version of this post:
Cómo leen los lectores de pantalla una página con HTML5 y ARIA

Testing the accessibility of the CSS generated content

This article is about how screen readers speak the content added with CSS pseudo-elements :before and :after (in CSS3 they are ::before and ::after).

I am trying to learn to use AT when developing websites and recently I saw that no matter how W3C wants us to use a certain CSS element, there will always be developers/designers who will try to push the limits of the specification.

While I do advise you to NOT use pseudo-elements to generate useful content (limit yourself to generating quotes or design elements), just in case somebody thinks that the cool resides in generating content with CSS because everything else is already old, let’s see how people using screen readers will “benefit” from the idea.

A piece of code…OK, maybe two…

The HTML is really simple, an innocent paragraph of text:

<h1>Example of content added with CSS pseudo-elements</h1>
<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit..and so on.</p>

and the CSS is also quite simple:

#content p:before {
content:"This is before the text, you can style it";
#content p:after{
content:"This is after the text";

Let’s hear voices

The video will show how NVDA, Jaws and Window Eyes read the page – I set NVDA to read at a lower rate in order for you to follow, but the other 2 are a bit faster.

The conclusion

There’s no need for me to tell you how bad the idea is, DON’T use these pseudo-elements for generating useful content, limit its use to generating quotes, breadcrumb icons, fluffy snowflakes or whatever. But keep it presentational in order for other people to have access to the useful stuff.

Check the Spanish version of this post:
Probando la accesibilidad del contenido generado por CSS

Reasons to be cheerful – Chris Heilmann talking at Fronteers 2010

For those of you webdevelopers who have 1 hour to spare I am offering this Chris Heilmann talk at Fronteers 2010 in Amsterdam. I promise you it’s funny, engaging, motivating and it will make you feel good to be a part of the web world 🙂

You can find information on the Fronteers Conference website and all the 14 sessions (about HTML5, CSS3, Accessibility, Javascript, Design and more) are now on their Vimeo channel.

Useful 10 minutes of WAI ARIA

I would like to post here a selection of resources that might help you start using ARIA in your web applications or websites – although ARIA is still a draft. you can start using it and some AT will know how to read it.

Introduction to WAI ARIA

Written by Gez Lemon for Opera Developer, this article is the best post you can start with. You will understand why ARIA was created in the first place and you will understand some basic terms like: roles, states, properties, and my favorite, ARIA regions.

ARIA Roles 101

Now that you know the basics of ARIA, you can start implementing ARIA roles in your applications. A full list of the roles definitions can be seen here, at the W3C WAI ARIA 1.0 specs website.

Supported states and properties

Learning about ARIA properties is the next logical step, and the W3C WAI ARIA specifications are really helpful even if the first impression is that you read the Constitution or something 🙂

Try some demos: ARIA Live Regions Screen Reader Demo

A very useful video by Aaron Cannon (from about using ARIA live regions in a correct way, the difference between aria-live=”polite” and aria-live=”rude” and how this whole thing works. You need to know that now aria-live=”rude” is not part of the specs anymore (it was really too rude) and we are left with “off”, “polite” and “assertive”.

You might wanna read ARIA and Progressive Enhancement written by Derek Featherstone for A List Apart because the small examples that you will find there will help you understand better the roles and the properties of ARIA.

If you wanna go back to reading the Constitution, WAI-ARIA 1.0 Authoring Practices – An author’s guide to understanding and implementing Accessible Rich Internet Applications is the next step, a page full of examples for you to learn from and best practices when it comes to implementing ARIA – pay special attention to Section 3: Keyboard and Structural Navigation, Section 4: Relationships and Section 5: Managing Dynamic Changes which is really really important.

Learn from examples

  • JQuery Widget Samples – a collection of common JQuery widgets made accessible with ARIA: sliders, progress bars, accordions, trees, carousels, tabs, etc….
  • jQuery-Accessible-RIA – adds some more ARIA examples: a form, a lightbox, tables, etc.

Update with more minutes of WAI ARIA

Aaron Gustafson also has a video with NVDA reading his now famous TabInterface.

TabInterface in Firefox using NVDA screenreader from Aaron Gustafson on Vimeo.

Check the Spanish version of this post:
10 minutos útiles de WAI ARIA