Off Site

Offline Web Content for Intranets

If you are looking for an app that helps you to view your favourite websites offline, we are sorry to disappoint you. There are many apps out there that do just that, so there is really no point in writing another one. But if you are a website administrator and you want to make some of your webcontent available to your users offline in an easy manner, then Off Site might be just the right tool for you and your users.

How Off Site works

In order to download web content from a webserver, Off Site needs a URL to a manifest file. This file has currently to be served from the same webserver that also supplies the web content for offline usage.

A manifest file is basically a text file that start with „CACHE MANIFEST“ on the first line, followed by a list of files to download with one file per line. The manifest can be created manually and copied to the webserver or can be dynamically created via a script. Currently Off Site only supports the download of files from the same webserver that also serves the manifest file. The paths of the files to be downloaded can be relative to the path of the manifest file or absolute to the webserver’s root directory.

This is what a simple manifest file with relative paths looks like:

CACHE MANIFEST
index.html
data/adblue-stations.pdf
data/lpg-stations.pdf
img/lpg.png
img/adblue.png

If you name this file „manifest.txt“ and place it in the subdirectory „/offline“ of your webserver, the url of the manifest would be

http://yourserver.com/offline/manifest.txt

After fetching the manifest, Off Site will try to downloads all files listed there to a cache on your device. If this was successfull, it then launches the downloaded webpage(s) in its local browser. Since our example manifest file uses relative paths, Off Site would try to download the following files

http://yourserver.com/offline/index.html
http://yourserver.com/offline/data/adblue-stations.pdf
http://yourserver.com/offline/data/lpg-stations.pdf
http://yourserver.com/offline/img/lpg.png
http://yourserver.com/offline/img/adblue.png

Where to buy

You can buy Off Site at the Apple iTunes App Store. It is priced in the second lowest pricing tier which is currently 1,99 Euros or an equivalent amount in other currencies.

Usage

To download webpages to Off Site simply click on the „Load“ tab and enter the URL of your manifest file. If your webserver protects the manifest with basic authentication, you can supply  an optional username and password. After clicking on „Download“, all files in the manifest are copied to the cache of the local device. If there is at least one HTML file in the root directory, you are then redirected to the „Show“ tab. There you can launch into your content with one tap on the play icon.

Options

On the „Setup“ tab there are serveral options. Please read the following information carefully and make sure you know what you are doing before using each option.

Remember password

If you check this, Off Site will store the password supplied in the „Load“ tab on your device so you do not have to enter it again.

Disable sleep mode

Once this is checked, Off Site will not allow the device to dim its screen after a while or go into standby. This might be necessary for some web content that has to be displayed for a long time. This option might also increase the battery drain on your device.

Show fullscreen

If you want to browse you offline webpages fullscreen, check this option. Note: The only way back to Off Site once an offline page has been displayed is then to close the app and open it again.

Redirect after 3s

If you load an index.htm or index.html file to the root directory of your offline cache, Off Site will automatically redirect to this file after 3 seconds when this option is selected. Since the app always starts on the „Show“ tab once some offline content is available, this allows your users to show their offline content without any interaction with Off Site.

Clear before download

Once this is checked, Off Site will delete all previously downloaded files from its local file cache before downloading. This enables you to start with a fresh set of files.

Download changed files only

If you check this option, Off Site will still download all files from the manifest. But when it asks the webserver for the manifest file, it will send a „if-modified-since“ header along. This way the server can decide which files it wants to return in the manifest file. This option will most probably only make sense in combination with dynamically generated manifests. Note: If you use this feature, you should not use the previous option since you might end up with only a subset of your files.

Always redownload

This is helpful in a test scenario where the offline webpages change frequently. If this option is checked, Off Site will always try to download the manifest file and its contents before showing them, even if it already has some files in its cache.

Delete local storage cache

A click on this link will delete all data in the local storage including all the settings of Off Site. You will need probably this option only if something really does not work.

Delete database cache

Currently Off Site caches only files but there is some experimental database cache planned for future version. A click on this option will delete the complete database cache.

„Info“

In this tab you will find information about Off Site and the last set of files that were copied to the device.

Release History

1.1.1 – 2015-01-06

This version merely fixes some issue that were related to iOS 8. No new features were introduced. If you run iOS 8.x, you should update the app and then reload you offline content. Previously downloaded content will not display after the update. If you run iOS 6 or 7, version 1.1.0 still is the right one for you.

1.1.0 – 2014-02-11

In this version all functionality to support webapps was removed.

1.0.1 – 2014-01-04

This is the inital release. It was submitted to the Apple App Store on January 24, 2014. This version was rejected by Apple and never published in the App Store.