The infamous classic novel by Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange, has been created into an interactive app by Random House in conjunction with Cambridge based developers Pop Leaf. The app is exquisitely executed and designed, and is enriched with archived materials and various media to make re-visiting this classic novel an engaging, exciting experience. The app is an entire reading experience, and encompasses archived imagery, videos, text and behind the scenes information in a beautifully designed interface.
Literature lovers will be able to re-experience the iconic novel in a whole new, innovative way, and designers will also love the archive of book covers spanning the fifty years since the controversial novel was published.
I took the app for a road test and was incredibly impressed with the ease of navigation, gorgeous use of bold orange, and the simplistic interface. Adding so much more to the experience of reading an ebook, the app is a bold move for the publishers.
Pop Leaf are locals to me here in Silicon Fen, Cambridge in the UK, so I asked them some questions about their latest project.
1. How did the project come about?
We’d worked with Dan Franklin, who’s the digital editor at Random House, on a previous project. They were looking to do a high-end literary app and so asked us if we were interested. Being fans of the book / film, we jumped at the chance.
2. What process (in brief) did the app development go through for the client?
Beyond initially working through the scope of the app with us, Random House trusted us to lead the way in terms of design and – to a certain extent – editorial content. As such, they were quite hands off until near the end where there were a few minor presentational changes. Having a solid relationship with Dan obviously helps.
3. What are you most pleased with now the app is complete?
Editorially we were pleased by the depth of content, and the fact it was so well received, as most of this work was done in-house. To produce an app based on a such a high profile literary work and to not have a lynch mob at the door is vindication indeed. Beyond that we were pleased with the frontend since it reflects the subject matter and is an elegant, fun, and economical way to navigate the content. The underlying code base is probably the most interesting part for us, as it is incredibly powerful, flexible and reusable. Not that the end user would, or should notice.
4. Were there any difficulties you faced in the process?
There are always difficulties, but that’s half the fun. Weirdly, the main difficulties were with rights acquisition rather than anything technical. I suppose throughout development our main worry was ensuring that we were not doing anything that would detract or compromise the novel itself.
5. What does a typical day look like at Pop Leaf?
Busy. There are only two of us and we have three active projects and the next six months of work already mapped out for us. As we do all code, design, music and testing in-house, we have a lot to do!
6. You are based in Cambridge – how does Silicon Fen support and nurture your work?
To be honest, it doesn’t really. We’re not engaged in the Cambridge tech scene. We bootstrapped the company from nothing in 2010 to where we are now.
7. What advice would you give for someone wishing to break into app development?
For a long term business: learn as much as you can about the fundamentals of programming and work from there up to the wonders of Obj-C. Learn the various iOS libraries like the back of your hand. Try and learn as much as you can outside of code too: visual design, music, writing, everything. The broader your palette of skills the better an app developer you’ll be. On top of that: listen to your customers; be honest with yourself about if you can really dedicate yourself to the project; consider if the project is worth making into an app, analyse it; and test everything.
(images are screen grabs from the app)