Web development Basics For Mobile devices: Technologies roundup

Creating web-based content for mobile devices may sound as a daunting task, but fear alas. A lot is based on existing, XML-based open standards, that are used to create the world wide web you are already familiar with. If you can / know how to make web pages that are viewable on PC, then there is a very good change you also know how to web pages for mobile devices.

The most essential technologies are:

  • XTHML
    XHTML is the structural mark-up language used to define page content and content structure. XHTML is the current W3C standard recommendation for mobile devices , replacing HTML and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP 1.0).

    XHTML has several variations like W3C’s XHTML Basic and OMA’s XHTML mobile profile(XHTML-MP) which are used extensively in web pages created for mobile devices.

    To summarize: XHTML is used to tell the semantics of content. I.e. What part of text is a heading, what is paragraph, which content is important etc. For example this text you are reading is an paragraph inside an unordered list item.

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  • CSS
    CSS is a simple style language to tell how a web browser should represent various structural elements defined by mark-up language (like XHTML). Like XHTML, CSS comes in various flavours like CSS1 or CSS2.1, and for mobile browsers there is CSS-Mobile Profile (known also as CSS basic).

    To summarize: with CSS you define how the browser should represent heading, paragraphs, what kind of an layout to use etc.

  • SVG
    SVG is a W3C standard XML-based language for vector-based graphics and animation. If you haven’t heard earlier about SVG, don’t worry (as 9/10 developers are unfamiliar with SVG although it is nearly a decade old technology).

    SVG (*naturally*) has a version targeted for mobile devices known as Mobile SVG Profiles (includes SVG Basic and SVG Tiny) . The first SVG-enabled 3rd generation mobile phones were announced in January 2006 and it will be more than interesting to see if and how this competes with Adobe / Macromedia Flash Lite. SVG success in pc-world is pretty poor, and I fear it will suffer the same also on mobile world. SVG is good format, bad sadly lacking successfull tools to attract developers.

  • SMIL
    SMIL is yet another XML-based language that is used to create simple animations and multimedia presentations. SMIL was developed by REAL (known from RealPlayer) but it is currently a W3C standard.

    Tough SMIL is rarely talked of, it is a highly popular technique in mobile web applications with several adoptions, the most famous being MMS (a stripped down version of SMIL).

And when talking about mobile technologies, there is of course OMA, a standards body which develops open standards for the mobile industry. As OMA is the force behind the adoption of various technologies, and reading their website on regular basis is a must for any web developer targeting for mobile devices.

The next parts of “Web Development Basics For Mobile Devices” series will issue mobile browsers and tools for developer. And there will of course be the required web2.0 chapter. So stay tuned…

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| Web development For Mobile devices | XHTML mobile profile | SMIL | SVG | CSS | CSS mobile profile | Open Mobile Alliance | W3C | Flash Lite