Wednesday, 28 June 2006 12:17

W3C issues mobile web development guidelines

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The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which includes some of the world's top mobile and internet players, wants to make it as easy to use the Web on a mobile device as on a desktop computer. Today, W3C, claims to have brought that mission one step closer with the publication of a document called Mobile Web Best Practices a Candidate Recommendation, a set of guidelines for developing applications on mobile phones.

The 30 key organizations that belong to W3C include a number of major players in the IT and telecommunications space who have an interest in the mobile communications market. Key vendors include Google, Microsoft, Nokia, AT&T, Ericsson, and Vodafone. An issue that these players face is that mobile internet browsing is a bit like Siberia - everybody knows where it is but not many want to go there. In fact, the vast majority of mobile users these days can access the internet through their mobile phones but most don't bother. The W3C, whose CEO is web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee, believes that lack of standards in mobile content development is part of the problem.

The W3C announcement issued an invitation to the designers of Web sites and content management systems to read the set of 60 guidelines in its new document, make implementations, and test their results with the alpha version of a guidelines checker. The guidelines cover topics such as scrolling, the use of frames, pop-ups, auto refresh and other issues that could adversely affect the quality of the browsing experience on a mobile phone

"There are many devices, but one Web," said Daniel Appelquist, chair of the Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group. "Practical guidelines on how to create content once that can be delivered to the plethora of devices saves developers and organizations time and money, and has the added benefit of not breaking the Web."

According to the the W3C statement, "Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0" condenses the experience of many mobile Web stakeholders into practical advice on creating content that will work well on mobile devices. Authors and other content producers can find instructions on how to create content that makes browsing convenient on mobile devices and avoids known pitfalls, such as pop-ups and page-scrolling.

W3C has also launched a wiki to collect observations and suggestions on techniques and implementation experience of Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0. The new W3C document can be accessed at https://www.w3.org/TR/2006/CR-mobile-bp-20060627/.

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Stan Beer

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Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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