W3C Mobile Web Seminar – 16 November 2006 – Paris, France


The W3C Mobile Web Seminar being held today, 16 November 2006, in Paris, France is an important event bringing together authors, pioneers, visionaries, web designers, enthusiasts, and many others. Its theme is ‘Accessing the Web from Mobile Devices‘, in other words using the Web while on the move. W3C’s Mobile Web Initiative (W3C-MWI) was launched in 2005 to improve the mobile experience on the Web. The W3C-MWI work is focused on developing best practices for “mobileOK” Web sites, and device information needed for content adaptation.

Philipp Hoschka, W3C Europe Deputy Director and Mobile Web Initiative Leader, is chairing the event. One of the most important building blocks in this is covered by Andrea Rus, MobileAware in a presentation, ‘Embracing Device Diversity‘ (PDF). One of the key processes in achieving Thematic Consistency, which is a prime objective of the One Web Principle, is what is called Adaptation.


He describes what is involved in even Simple Adaptation:

DDWG (Device Description Working Group) research shows
For basic adaptation, you don’t need a lot of context data
To enable adaptation you need less than 20 properties
Compared to the 100s of data on every device maintained by the professional solutions (e.g. MobileAware), a figure of 20 is probably achievable for ordinary people
This data is available but…
Located in different places (e.g. on manufacturer websites)
In different formats (some in XML, some in UAProf, some in Text)
Varying degrees of quality (some tested, some just guessed)
Not available in real-time
-Have to download the data files
-Then read through them

He summarizes the benefits achieved through Embracing Device Diversity:

Easy authoring for Mobile Web
Basic device descriptions will enable basic content adaptation
Greater contributions of content
More people will be able to create content for the Mobile Web
Content working on all devices
More people will be able to access Web content via mobile devices
Diversity benefits users
People can use whatever mobile device suits their needs
Diversity not a problem for authors
Authors can write content using an adaptable mark-up language
Perfect presentations for mobile specialists
Professional companies (e.g. MobileAware) can provide enhanced device information and enhance adaptation capabilities
Active mobile Web good for mobile markets
More authors providing more content for more users will be good for the mobile Web and good for markets in the mobile Web

It all sounds pretty challenging for all but the professionals. Clearly the advantages to be gained are enormous. However a nagging question remains. Can Adaptation ever produce satisfying user experiences on all mobile devices? Very different screen resolutions imply very different abilities to handle information. Does mere thematic consistency deliver what is required? We wait to be convinced on that.

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W3C Mobile Web Seminar – 16 November 2006 – Paris, France — 6 Comments

  1. Dear Barry

    thank you for your article following my presentation at the W3C Mobile Web Initiative seminar

    With regards to a satisfying user experience, we believe in allowing standard web authors to create adaptable web applications that, taking into account contextual info such as the one provided by the Device Description Working Group, can best represent themselves on mobile devices.


  2. My colleague, Andrea, does suggest that it is challenging for all but the professionals, but his point is that this should not be the case. Adaptation works (as several specialist companies can prove) but it is only accessible to those who can affort the professional solutions. What about the ordinary authors? The Web was created not by a small number of professional content/service providers, but by a mass of ordinary authors. To replicate this success in the mobile Web it will be necessary to make it easy to create content. And that means access to basic adaptation, which in turn implies access to basic device information. As chair of the DDWG, I am committed to working with my W3C partners to provide a technology that can make device descriptions available for adaptation solutions so that the Web can grow through adaptable authoring. This isn’t just about the mobile end users, this is also about the authors and everyone else in the Web community. We plan to do this work in the open, and we will welcome any constructive comments and contributions that people can offer to help us reach our goal.

    Thank you for helping to spread the word.


  3. Thanks for responding so positively, Andrea and Rotan. I certainly applaud the efforts of all those involved in W3C in pushing forward with these endeavours.

    .. also sorry about the mistake, Andrea, which I have corrected.

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