iWeb replacement? Apple patent filing involves web page development tool

It’s doubtful that Apple will ever release a replacement for its late, lamented iWeb app, but the tech giant has filed for a patent (number 20190121517) for “interactive menu elements in a virtual three-dimensional space” that involves web page creation.

iWeb was a template-based website creation tool that was introduced in October 2006 as part of the iLife suite. It allowed users to create websites and blogs and customize them with their own text, photos, and movies. Users could then publish their websites. However, development of iWeb ceased in 2011.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that, in many instances, computer-programming languages are a hindrance to electronic content creation and, ultimately, delivery to content consumers. To begin to bridge this gap, content creators can use some electronic-content-development tools which allow content creators to interact with a graphical user interface to design the content while an electronic-content-development tool puts the computer-programming code in place to represent the electronic content on a user's computer. 

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Apple notes that one type of such tool is a web page development tool, which allows a user to create webpages with basic features by designing the webpage graphically within the electronic-content-development tool. However, in most instances, such tools can only assist users with basic features. Users wanting customized elements must still have knowledge of one or more computer-programming languages.

For example, while some web-content development tools can assist with the creation of basic hyper-text markup language (html) content, these tools have even more limited capabilities to edit cascading style sheet (css) elements. Apple says that, often, variables within the css code must be adjusted directly in the code. Such adjustments require knowledge of computer-programming languages, which again, many content creators lack.  The tech giant says that “the existing solutions are not adequate to eliminate barriers between content creators and the presentation of high quality electronic content on a variety of platforms.”

Here’s Apple’s quite technical summary of the invention: “The present technology includes displaying a user interface in a simulated three-dimensional environment that includes selectable user interface objects located at different simulated distances from a respective viewpoint in the simulated three-dimensional environment. One or more of the selectable user interface objects are displayed with a simulated depth of field effect that includes applying a respective degree of blurring to the one or more selectable user interface objects. 

“In response to detecting a navigation input, the one or more user interface objects are displayed at a different position relative to the respective viewpoint, and the respective degree of blurring applied to the one or more user interface objects is updated based on the simulated depth of field effect and a respective current position of the one or more user interface objects relative to the respective viewpoint.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.