Coding with Jesse

Avoiding web page zoom in the iPhone and iPod Touch

I've been doing a bit of experimentation with web pages in the iPhone, and I've realised the first major problem is trying to prevent the iPhone from zooming way out on a web page, making it rather difficult to work with and more difficult to read.

One would assume that a 100%-width layout would be good enough for the iPhone's Safari to stop setting the browser width to 964px. But alas, it's not.

I had a look at probably the best iPhone app out there right now, Joe Hewitt's Facebook for the iPhone. Joe was awesome enough to release iUI, a collection of CSS, JavaScript and images for making user interfaces that match the look and feel of the iPhone.

I spent some time dissecting his examples, and eventually realised it wasn't the CSS nor the JavaScript which was able to stop the iPhone Safari from resizing. It was just a <meta> tag in the <head>:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=320; initial-scale=1.0; maximum-scale=1.0; user-scalable=0;"/>

It turns out this was all well documented on Apple's site, iPhone for Web Developers. There are lots of other techniques discussed like how to specify stylesheets and integrate with the built-in Google Maps application.

I hope that other device manufacturers implement things like the <meta name="viewport"> tag and the only-for-certain-widths stylesheets. The iPhone may not end up in everyone's pocket, but we will need to make web sites and applications that work across an ever-wider range of devices.

Published on September 7th, 2007. © Jesse Skinner

About the author

Jesse Skinner Hi, I'm Jesse Skinner. I'm a web development coach focused on reducing developer burnout. I work with web development teams to reduce stress through automated testing and deployment, scalable infrastructure, and the modernization of painful legacy systems.

Through customized training and coaching, I empower teams to adopt new technologies to improve their workflows and make work more enjoyable. Feel free to email me. I'm eager to hear about your challenges and see how I can make your life easier.