The Committee on the Development of the Dutch Canon (2005-2007) developed the Canon van Nederland in 2007. BSL developed the EnToen app a few years later. Since its launch in 2013, it has been a top-rated school app. In 2020 a new Canon committee, led by Professor James Kennedy, updated the Canon. The Committee retired ten topics and added ten new ones. While we updated the app to show the new content last year, we wanted to do more. So we’re proud to say that entirely new versions of the Entoen Nu and Entoen Lite apps are on the way!
What is the Canon van Nederland?
The Committee on the Development of the Dutch Canon (2005-2007) created the original Canon van Nederland, and the Stichting Entoen Nu produced the Entoen.nu website. However, since its inception, 14 years of history, social developments, and scientific knowledge have passed. Our perspective on many topics such as race and slavery has therefore changed. As a result, in 2020, a new committee led by Professor James Kennedy proposed several changes, leading to a brand-new Canon.
The Canon van Nederland website
Along with the new Canon, a new website has replaced the old Entoen.nu site.
The revised Canon contains 50 topics describing events and people that have shaped the Netherlands. The Canon editorial team replaced 10 of the original topics. They also extensively revised the Canon’s contents, updating curated links to books, images, videos, and educational TV. In addition, they added many new tips to help children discover more about each topic. These include recommendations for museums, exhibitions and sites you can visit.
The new Canon van Nederland apps
While we updated the apps last year to include much of the new content, we decided the time was ripe for us to create entirely new apps. And as the name “Entoen Nu” is no longer used for the website, the apps will be called the Canon van Nederland.
We’ve created a new interface design that matches the new website. And above all, it looks more modern! Unfortunately, the term “timeless design” rarely applies to websites and apps, so the Entoen Nu and Lite apps were starting to show their age.
Time to Reflect…and React
Under the hood, we’ve switched from Cordova (a cross-platform environment for building apps based on web technology) to the more modern React Native.
We’ve built up considerable experience using React for other developments, including the 1888 Info app. React Native delivers a smoother performance in terms of interface and animations. In addition, we’re able to resolve some of the limitations associated with web technology that have arisen as Apple and Google have increased app security. For example, we can now play videos in the app instead of opening them in a browser window.
A new development platform always poses some challenges. For example, the app’s content comes directly from the Canon van Nederland CMS, which uses HTML as a markup language. And although the syntax of formatting in React Native is very similar to HTML, React Native translates the elements to native UI. So we had to find solutions for using HTML text. Mainly where this text contains links or other “special” elements. Fortunately, there is a lively React community. There are all kinds of developers who have run into the same problems – and have made their solutions available.
Improvements to the back-end
In addition, we’ve rewritten and improved the web service that is responsible for delivering the content to the app. We also use the web service to solve some of the HTML content issues. A server generally has more computing power than a tablet and isn’t reliant on batteries. This means anything that can be processed server-side is always a plus.
New bugs always creep in with this kind of rewrite, so our QA team has been busy. We checked each reported issue and compared the app contents with the old app and the new website to ensure everything was correct.
As the release date approaches, the team lead (Roderick) and his colleague (Artjom) have been producing regular updates in response to test reports. As always in app developments, there is a lot of work involved in testing the apps on all sorts of Android and iOS devices. However, if all goes to plan, the Canon apps will be in an App Store near you soon.
Do you have an idea for an app, or would you like to find out more about the cost of creating an app? A single call is probably all we need to produce a development plan and a cost estimate. So why not get in touch!