News from W3C: Best Practices, mobileOK and Content Transformation Guidelines Progress

Last week, W3C announced the final step of approval of the Mobile Web Best Practices as a W3C Recommendation. It’s taken quite a while for it to progress to this point, mainly because it had a dependency on HTML Basic 1.1 the version of XHTML that unifies OMA XHTML-MP and W3C work. dotMobi’s Mobile Web Developer Guide embraces and extends the Best Practices and puts them in a slightly less dry and dusty form (I can say that as I was the editor of the W3C document :-)) as well as providing a great deal more explanatory information.

Following closely on the heels of the Best Practices (we hope) will be the mobileOK Basic Tests, which is a set of tests to assess whether a Web site can deliver a basic mobile experience to a simple hypothetical mobile device (known as the DDC). The tests are now standing in the wings awaiting their moment in the sunlight but already form the basis of ready.mobi.

In addition, the finishing touches (documentation etc.) are now being made to the mobileOK Checker, which is an open source Java library that implements the mobileOK Basic Tests. There’s a Web interface to this code at http://validator.w3.org/mobile as part of the overall W3C Validator. Ruadhan (bringing experience from ready.mobi development) and I participated in the creation of this code.

As if that wasn’t enough, progress has also been made on W3C Content Transformation Guidelines. This has now been published as a “Last Call” draft, which means that comments are specifically requested from the public.

dotMobi thinks that transformation does not produce the best quality mobile experiences. Better experiences can be achieved by developing mobile specific sites. We developed the Mobile Web Developers Guide, the ready.mobi checker and DeviceAtlas to help developers create those experiences. However, to ease the transition from developing desktop experiences to developing mobile specific experiences – as James mentioned – we are creating an opt-in transformation service which will help purchasers of dotMobi domains take the first steps. More on this soon.

dotMobi supports the W3C Content Transformation Guidelines (I’m the editor on dotMobi’s behalf), in the context that mobile operators around the world have already deployed this technology (also called transcoding) pretty widely. The guidelines provide a framework for made-for-mobile sites to tell this equipment to get out of the way and not interrupt the user experience that they have specifically crafted. We’d like to see all operators who deploy transforming proxies committed to making them conformant to the W3C Guidelines.

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