User:Rewood/Publishing Web content for mobil devices

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Good News

   * Handhelds now support wireless easily.
   * Phones are getting much smarter.
   * Better displays, faster processors and ubiquitous connectivity mean that web browsing is possible on mobile devices.


   * Limited Processor and Ram
   * Small Screens dictated by form factor demands
   * Majority of audience has non networked devices
   * Those that do are possibly paying an arcane per kilobyte charge.

Three aspects of Mobile Content

   * Authoring web content
   * Viewing content
   * Delivery of content in a way that is easy for your audience to obtain

Authoring Content, some simple rules

   * Guidelines for Universal Access happen to be work quite well as guidelines for Mobile Content.
   * Accesibility checking tools may help in creating better mobile content.
   * Images should be jpeg or gif. Make sure text descriptors are there.
   * Frames are not necessarily evil, but misundertood. Give framesets intelligent names.
   * Hard coded cell sizes may cause much annoyance.
   * Keep pull down lists short.
   * Break up large documents into separate sections.
   * Flash is cool, but it doesn't run on most cell phones or Palms.
   * Think Simple. Simple is really good here.

Tools for testing/viewing content

Of course, the best way to test is to own one of everything.

Palm, Handspring, Microsoft and Nokia all offer emulators/simulators for testing content. To get to most of them, you have to sign up as a developer. Good news -- it's free!

   * Palm Developer's Site
   * Handspring Developer's Site
   * Nokia Developer's Forum
   * Microsoft's PocketPC Site
   * The web browser Opera (version 7 for Windows) supports a small screen preview mode.Pressing Shift-F11 toggles it on and off.
   * Lynx is a web browser that is text based, which can be a very useful way to examine web page organisation. It strips everything out, and is quite quick.
   * Links is a similar web browser, but does handle tables. It is very fast. There is even a Mac OS X version.
   * Tidy attempts to clean up malformed html, and can report accessibility problems. It is available for many platforms, since it is open source.

Viewing Content

Wireless equipped devices typically will come equipped with at least rudimentary web browsing.

   * Palm includes Web Browser Pro with all wireless equipped device they sell.
   * Handspring includes a browser called Blazer. It is included with all of their wireless products.
   * AvantGo is a specialised HTML viewer, that works with or without their server to deliver web content through either a wireless or conventional desktop handheld cradle. It's available for Palm, PocketPC and some cell phones.
   * Opera makes a version of their web browser for cell phones.
   * Access makes browsers for Palm, PocketPC and some cell phones. Their PocketPC browser is better than Microsoft's own PocketIE browser. Handango sells it here in the US.
   * Fireviewer is a very rudimentary web browser. It's main strength is as a image viewer and streaming media viewer for the Palm.
   * Eudora Internet Suite includes EudoraWeb, a text only web browser. It's key value, besides being free, is that it supports SSL.
   * Pocket Internet Explorer is the default web browser for PocketPC devices.


A direct network connection is best, but cost of wireless handhelds is much higher than most are willing to spend. However, cell phones are becoming increasily sophisticated, and many offer a web browser.

However, there are several solutions for migrating web content to handhelds that are not networked. This typically takes the form of specialized software than can parse content, streamlining it for handheld devices, combined with a viewer application for the mobile device.

AvantGo offers both commercial and free solutions. Their basic viewer application is free, and is available for PocketPC, Palm and some cell phones. Individual users can sign up with AvantGo's MyAvantGo service, which is also free. It's main strength is that user's don't have to install extra software to convert content -- their service does it automatically, and once they set up channels, content is updated automatically on their device.

Plucker is a viewer and desktop application for migrating web content into a handheld format.While it is not as sophisticated as AvantGo, it is free. The viewer software is only available for the Palm, but the desktop conversion software is available for a variety of platforms.

iSilo is a document reader for both Palm and PocketPC devices which, combined with desktop software, can display HTML based content.

And there are likely others that I have forgotten about. In closing:

   * This problem isn't going away. Over 80% of NCSU's students have cell phones.
   * These devices are going to become more sophisticated as pricing drops.
   * After basic needs are met (voice, messaging, email), it is likely that viewing simple web content will be next as a "must have" for these devices.
   * Following Accessibility Guidelines won't just make you popular, but will keep you ahead of the curve.