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The Mobile Web, Simplified


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Jesse Rodgers

Ah! Perfect timing… thanks for this. I have been trying to develop a mobile version of a few parts of our uni web space and it has proven a bit challenging if you want to go with anything more than plain text. CSS support is very different and figuring out how to make a text heavy web ‘usable’ on a small screen is a challenge.

Get that book of yours published ;) I need it!


A bit sad that the mobile web needs special treatment, would be much easier and in my opinion better if one webpage could serve all devices – a pc as well as a mobile phone or a psp.

What about using this standard for desktop use then? What would be the downsides of making a web enabled for mobile devices and then use it at a desktop device? Does Firefox support this standard? IE doesn’t I suppose because it doesn’t even support usual real XHTML. But if we follow the limitations of the mobile web on the desktop web – what would we loose? We can send this standard to all browsers supporting it and all which doesn’t can just have it sent as HTML 4 or something because it’s backwards compatible – nothing new only things removed – right?

Mats Lindblad

I had this doctype on a page I was testing a bit.

Could you tell me the difference?

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//OMA//DTD XHTML Mobile 1.0//EN” “”>

Adrian Lee

With Opera Mini spreading, and other mobile browsers likely to head in the same direction (because of it’s popularity and the rave reviews people have made about it’s usefulness), I can’t see that coding specific sites for other ‘devices’ is a long term effort worth investing in.

I’ve compared opening one of our own web sites on my Opera Mini installed phone, and a colleagues old style mobile browser.
Opera mini opened the full site fine. Some tweaks could be made to make it mroe friendly, but the site worked, you could navigate, view content etc…. And that was version 1 of Opera Mini.
Colleagues phone…. well, that never got to actually opening the site, it’s memory got full and crashed….

So which is better, a mobile browser that can open most sites already out there (and can even utilise a certain amount of Javascript, though that’s apparently a proper battery drainer) or one that needs specially crafted ‘lite’ web sites which are never going to get the same attention as the main site (same reason text-only versions of sites for accessibility aren’t a good idea).

With the DS and the Wii both having Opera as the browser to use, they are in similar boats, and as usual, I’m sure other browser manufacturers will copy what Opera’s been upto.

Cameron Moll

Pelle – I’m not clear about your question. Can you clarify?

Kabari – Good catch. Not sure how I managed to leave that out. The most common XML declaration, whose placement is in the prolog above the doctype, is the following: <?xml version=“1.0”?>. Another suggested option is to include character encoding in the declaration, such as <?xml version=“1.0” encoding=“UTF-8”?>

Mats – I don’t know that I could accurately describe the difference between the two doctypes. Need to look into that. My gut assumption is that the wapforum doctype has been the accepted doctype for several years now, and possibly the oma doctype that you mention will soon replace it as the accepted/preferred doctype. (Just as a bit of history, WAP Forum was formerly an independent organization that was later consolidated into the Open Mobile Alliance, or OMA.)

Adrian – “Opening a full site fine” and “opening a contextually relevant site that doesn’t cost the user an arm and leg in data costs” are two different things. The brevity of this article doesn’t allow me to cover the whole one web / device independence vs. mobile-optimized content issue, but you can read about that further here


Can a page made for mobile use also be used on a desktop pc? If a mobile can’t show a usual page but a usual browser can show a mobile page – then maybe one could make only a mobile page, because to have two different pages for different platforms isn’t very nice.


Ok, I’m confused now. I’ve been doing some WAP work and it all references cards and different HTML tags but when I view the source of the sites listed, they look like normal it because it is accessed via the browser and not a wap device?



I think you’ll find that you’re developing WAP1.0, while WAP2.0 is essentially the XHTML that you’re no doubt familiar with.


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Be friendly / use Textile