W3C MWI seminar in Paris
Today, my colleague in Paris is delivering a presentation entitled “Embracing Device Diversity” as part of the W3C’s MWI seminar. It shows how having device descriptions can make it possible to build adaptation solutions that will enable content work on mobile devices.
People will wonder why this hasn’t already been done. The simple fact is that nobody thought of it before. Sure, the OMA (evolved from the WAP Forum) have ways to represent some device properties, but no single place to access them when you need them. The WURFL community has a collection of device information of varying quality/origin, but also available only as a big document you download and refresh on occassions.
When I first got involved in this issue I wondered why it could not be as simple as the DNS. (OK, so the DNS might not be that simple, but bear with me.) Why could my Web server not detect the requesting device, and then quickly look up any device capability parameters I needed to adapt my response? Yes, MobileAware’s technology can already do that, but only with the help of a comprehensive repository that we’ve built up over the years. And continue to build.
Using our professional products with its powerful adaptation ability, and its comprehensive knowledge, is fine if you are a major content/service provider, but what if you are an ordinary member of the public, a very small business, a charity? Should you be excluded because you cannot afford the professional solution? It doesn’t cost you much to create a Web site for the traditional (PC) browser space, so why should you face such a barrier when you want to author for the mobile space?
Well, as the presentation explains, basic adaptation only requires a small amount of device knowledge, so if you could gather it together into some accessible place (think DNS servers here) then you could query this on-the-fly. As new devices appear, your adaptation processes would embrace the new devices. Your adaptation could be based on any of a number of low-cost/no-cost solutions like WALL, Cocoon or MyMobileWeb, each plugged into exactly the same device description repository (DDR).
Later, if you want to use a more professional adaptation technology, you could migrate to solutions like those from MobileAware and your feature-specific adaptation choices will still be valid because the professional solutions will also support the DDR.
Some ask why I would support a technology that would benefit my competitors. The truth is that it would benefit the entire Web, especially that part that involves extreme device diversity (the mobile Web). If authoring in the mobile Web is made easy for the masses, then the market grows with it. Market growth benefits everyone, including MobileAware. A fair slice of a bigger pie, that’s all we want.
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