The SFT and the Education Group at CERN have joined forces to create a new application for CERN. The application gives to the users real time information on the status of the LHC and live event displays from the four experiments: ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb. The team that works on developing this application is planning to include information about all CERN experiments and bring to them the latest news and results. In this effort ALICE Matters, the newsletter of the ALICE experiment, is included and users are regularly updated with news about the ongoing upgrade process and the intriguing results presented by the collaboration.
Fons Rademakers originally had the idea of a CERN app from the moment that iPhones and smartphones became widely used, about 4 years ago. He thought that CERN as technology leader should have an early presence. However, after asking around, it turned out that in the beginning the interest was not so strong and the main idea was to focus on developing web interfaces for everything. That's how he decided to set out a basic app by himself but “never got around doing it due to my full time occupation of running the ROOT project”.
Luckily, last year a student was allocated to work in developing a CERN iOS app under the Google Summer of Code scheme. Eamon Ford created a nice first prototype that showed potential. After Eamon's 3 month contract finished, we took it over in SFT, where by that time Timur Pocheptsov had become quite fluent in Apple technologies like Xcode, Objective-C, Cocoa and Cocoa Touch as he worked on an iPad version of ROOT. Timur basically redesigned and rewrote Eamon's prototype from the bottom up to the version we have now released to the Apple App Store.”
This year Łukasz Wasylkowski, another Google Summer of Code student, worked to develop an android version of this application. Over the summer he worked hard to build ... and with some extra work the application will soon be released in Google's market for Androids.
The CERN app aggregates public CERN content available via many different web sites. There are categories for CERN news (for general public, users, students, staff), CERN bulletin, CERN courier, for LIVE results or useful information (i.e. jobs opening, new fellowships) while the team always keeps an eye for new categories. The app is designed in a way that allows to easily add more categories. The Readability service (http://www.readability.com) is used to clean up most web pages we display to show only the essential text and not the navigation bars and other non-essential items. This hugely improves the reading experience on small devices.
The application was submitted to Apple and has now been approved for distribution through iTunes and the apple store and it is now available for downloading from the CERN App store.
Fons has plans for the future and he is now working on further improvements. "We would like to add stuff, like small Monte Carlo generator examples, 3D interactive event displays, etc. These things will perhaps be implemented in a v2 or v3 future release”. Moreover, in the future the same application could be used for implementing Co-Pilot and allow CERN to utilize the computing resources of thousands of mobile phones across the globe for the computation of experiments.