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RE: Comments on Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 (17 October)

From: Rotan Hanrahan <Rotan.Hanrahan@MobileAware.com>
Date: Sat, 3 Dec 2005 06:10:18 -0000
Message-ID: <D5306DC72D165F488F56A9E43F2045D30F4782@FTO.mobileaware.com>
To: <public-bpwg@w3.org>

Some follow-up on part of the comments relating to adaptation
(identified below).

> expecting all documents on the Web to be adapted on the server is
completely unrealistic

I agree. The request for comment does not contain an implication that
the server is the only place where adaptation would occur, though the
document does note that in its initial phase it will concentrate only on
server-side adaptation. I don't believe the BP group have that
expectation either. Actually, they are quite aware of, and fully accept
the validity of client-side and intermediate adaptation. Indeed, there
are already browsers that offer zoom and/or restructuring of (legacy)
content. The results vary in quality. Much of the early Web legacy is
quite OK on mobile HTML browsers. I believe you may have identified the
reason:

> documents rather than user interface

In fact, I think it is sufficient to emphasise "documents". Web content
that is mainly in document form/structure (dominated by h*/p/a tags) has
a substance focus. There is less emphasis on presentation/layout. During
the period of the Web when document presentation became important (e.g.
tables for layout), much content was created that does not work well on
mobile without some assistance (adaptation). Now we have a lot of Web
content that has a UI focus, and this also needs assistance to be
acceptable within the constraints of mobile. It may be possible to offer
this assistance in the same way we currently offer caching, mirroring,
proxying etc.

> This huge volume of content is one of the things that makes the Web so
useful.

Again I agree. Though I think the Best Practices are aimed towards
content creators (i.e. people adding more content to the Web) and
therefore the issue of making legacy content accessible is out of scope.
However, I will note here that (for example) heuristically guided
"scraping" can make otherwise inaccessible content available to mobile
users, though lacking much of the presentation and layout. It's much
like the PDF-to-HTML conversions we sometimes see offered by search
providers. Also, there are mobile browsers that will accept a lot of the
legacy content and make a pretty good job of rendering it on a mobile
device. Sometimes this works well; sometimes delivering the whole lot is
just inappropriate.

It is my opinion that services that are offered via the Web with the
intention of supporting a diverse client community (i.e. diverse
devices), should offer contextually-appropriate representations. This
means that you a) create a version for each supported context or b)
limit the amount that you need to create and employ adaptive mechanisms
to increase the supported range of clients. With increasing diversity,
option 'b' is preferred.

Legacy is a separate issue, though not diminished in importance. I would
like to see the W3C address the issue of the Web legacy, separate from
MWI. Backwards compatibility is not the only answer.

---Rotan.
(Mobileaware)

-----Original Message-----
From: public-bpwg-request@w3.org [mailto:public-bpwg-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of L. David Baron
Sent: 03 December 2005 05:06
To: public-bpwg@w3.org
Subject: Comments on Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 (17 October)

Some comments on http://www.w3.org/TR/2005/WD-mobile-bp-20051017/
follow.  Some are editorial, some are not.

[...]

In response to the request for comments in Section 4.2, which says "The
group seeks public feedback on the desirability of stating that, in
practice, adaptation is required for delivery to mobile devices; and
that consequently, in view of the desirability of making content widely
accessible across a broad range of devices, all Web development requires
adaptation.", I would respond by saying that expecting all documents on
the Web to be adapted on the server is completely unrealistic.  There is
a huge amount of content on the Web; much of the volume of content
(although not the most visited content) fits within the original purpose
of HTML (documents rather than user interface).  If site-wide
navigational content could be better separated from content unique to
the page, much of the content on the Web should not (given correct use
of existing standards) require adaptation, at least assuming that device
limitations on page size are not too small.  This huge volume of content
is one of the things that makes the Web so useful.  If it's not
accessible to mobile devices, then the mobile Web isn't really the Web.
(Note that I don't consider the presentation of additional user
interface and document splitting based on heading (HTML <Hn>) structure
to be adaptation in a strict sense: it's well within the conformance
requirements for HTML4.)

[...]

-David

-- 
L. David Baron                                <URL: http://dbaron.org/ >
           Technical Lead, Layout & CSS, Mozilla Corporation
Received on Saturday, 3 December 2005 06:05:38 GMT

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