Creating Mobile Sites in Drupal Using Multisites

This article provides a quick way to make your Drupal site accessible to mobile devices through two options:

  1. Have a one site serve multiple devices using one code base
  2. Use multisites to render content accordingly using one code base

By doing this your site should be simultaneously available to both mobile and desktop browsers.

Table of Contents

1. Overview
Outline of what this article is all about
2. Function of this script
The scripts functionality, what is does and what it does not
3. Skill Level
Developer knowledge required to implement the script
4. Requirements
Server set up
5. Files Included
All the files included in this module
6. Usage
How to use
7. Code
Summary of the relevant code arrange into snippets
8. Configuration
Summary of the relevant code arrange into snippets
9. Summary
Overview of what has been achieved
10. References and additional information
Inspiration and future developments

1. Overview

This article provides a quick way to make your site accessible to mobile devices through two options

  1. Have a one site serve multiple devices using one code base
  2. Use multisites to render content accordingly using one code base

The basis of the scripts include could be used stand-alone. The template engine used in this article is phptemplate.

2. Function of this script

The scripts included in this article checks to see if the device is a handheld browser using $_SERVER["HTTP_USER_AGENT"], and works out the best type of data to send to it using $_SERVER["HTTP_ACCEPT"] values.

3. Skill Level

Intermediate PHP and Drupal knowledge level is required. Developer must have prior knowledge of setting up multisites.

4. Requirements

The script uses PHP. This has been tested in PHP v4x and above, but it should work in any PHP environment. The script is an adaptation used on Drupal 4.5 / 6. It is untested in 4.7 and may require a few tweaks.

5. Files Included

A list of the files included in this module. Please ensure that files are uploaded to the correct location.

Modifications only to this file 5.1
themes [directory] 5.2
  • mhtml – directory containing page.tpl.php for mobile devices
  • imode – directory containing page.tpl.php for imode web browsers
  • wml – directory containing page.tpl.php wap compatible template
detect [directory]
  • browser.php – device detection script
  • – text file containing list of all known mobile devices
  • fix_code.php – includes functions for tidying up final output

5.1 Directories within sites dependant on site set up
5.2 Screenshots, CSS, icons and additional templates can be added as required

6. Usage

Upload the detect directory to chosen location, then edit paths in settings.php accordingly. To use multisites, please see configuration for more details.

7. Code

The actual code in more detail.

Changes to settings.php set some header parameters that must be set before any content is sent to the browser. Drupal has a couple of built in headers that need to be overridden. Changes are therefore required to a couple of lines in

Change to the following. This overrides the default Content-Type. Note that if roll-back is required, must be reverted also.

7.1 settings.php

Towards the bottom of settings.php include the main file browser.php. Call the function and make some changes accordingly.

browser.php should return a key from the $accept array. $or enables complete override of the detection. This is site wide, so if $or = 'wml'; the whole site will be in wml. Paths to files should be amended also. The next snippet sets http headers and then detects if the device is a mobile and restricts the number of snippets view on the main node page.

The final part of the script sets additional headers and then automatically selects a template dependent of device.

7.2 Themes

Themes are made using phptemplate for Drupal. They work as any other template. However, they render content slightly differently using different DTDs according to device capability. Some examples are listed below.

wml 7.1


These are stripped down versions of phptemplate. Some variables, that are unnecessary for a mobile device, have been removed. imode's template is similar, except it is written in Compact HTML. xhtml and html are fully-blown templates, written in xhtml and html respectively, and are targeted for non-handheld devices.

7.1 Note that cardid and cardtitle are deliberately incorrect here. fix_code.php corrects these later.

7.3 Detect

The main file is browser.php. This returns best suited $_SERVER["HTTP_ACCEPT"] and whether it is a hand-held device or not checking against $_SERVER["HTTP_USER_AGENT"]. This can be adapted to be a stand-alone script, but it has dependencies.

An array equivalent to the following, containing content-types.

The array key is straight forward, the array value is the full accept_type. This is used subsequently used in drupal_set_html_head() and drupal_set_header() respectively.

This creates an array using

to open Contained in is a list of the first four characters of the user_agent string of known devices. Each device is listed on a new line. Extract below.


Having created the 2 arrays listed above, the script now starts to check the $_SERVER["HTTP_ACCEPT"], including q value, so if the device accepts more than one mime type, the script should pick the best one. If there is no q value but $accept is there then 1 is added.

The output for Firefox with application/vnd.wap.xhtml+xml and text/vnd.wap.wml added would be something follows if the code was debugged.

[xhtml] => 2
[html] => 1.1
[wml] => 1.4
[mhtml] => 2

For Firefox the final result should be xhtml and MOBI = false.

8. Configuration

fix_code.php is a file containing a similar function to html_fix(). It strips out all non-wml syntax using preg_replace and str_replace and is called when ob_start is called. Information about this file has been included here as it should be edited further to strip out any additional content that is not required.

Brief details on how to use these files were outlined here, additional information follows.

One site serving multiple devices using one code base

  1. Upload all files
  2. Log in as an administrator and enable all the uploaded templates
  3. Make the required changes to
  4. Amend the settings.php file in sites/default directory as detailed previously

Multisites using one code base

For more information on how to set up multisites with Drupal, please visit: instructions or overview.

  1. Upload all files
  2. Log in as an administrator and enable all the uploaded templates
  3. Make the required changes to
  4. Amend the settings.php file in sites/device_name directory specifying the $or to match the device of choice 8.1

8.1 The whole detection script does not need to be included in settings.php if the device type is know. Below is an example for WAP / WML site.

9. Summary

This article utilizes a simple device detection script and selects the relevant output. Further changes may be needed to strip out irrelevant content for mobile devices, most of which can be achieved by editing fix_code.php.

10. References and additional information

References and additional information.


This document is draft. Development work has progressed to create a module to include this functionality. Files can be downloaded in zip format here.

References and Credits


Send comments or queries here


Working example of this script can be seen at Please note that due to limitation in sending XHTML with the correct content-type XHTML compatible browser still receive content as text/html. Multisites have also been enabled. Device dependant sites are listed below:

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