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RE: ISSUE-237 (Define Mobile Web Applications): What is the definition of a "Mobile Web Application" for the purposes of BP2? [Mobile Web Applications Best Practices]

From: Sullivan, Bryan <BS3131@att.com>
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2008 08:24:55 -0800
Message-ID: <8080D5B5C113E940BA8A461A91BFFFCD05D94056@BD01MSXMB015.US.Cingular.Net>
To: "Charles McCathieNevile" <chaals@opera.com>, "Sean Owen" <srowen@google.com>, "Holley Kevin (Centre)" <Kevin.Holley@o2.com>
Cc: <public-bpwg@w3.org>

I agree with Chaals on these points:

1) Focus should be on web applications themselves, rather than the specific client via which they are provided. What is a good guideline for user experience improvement in one type of web application running in a browser, is likely a useful guideline for web applications being provided in other clients. But focus should be on the content used by applications and their related behaviors.

2) We don't have to agree (and should not try, really) upon precise definitions for something like the "web", that is evolving. There will be a clear relationship to web technologies in some cases, and in others value to focus on behaviors that are in truth independent of the type of content being used (e.g. "Provide Defaults"). Effective presentation, interaction, and network utilization techniques are the same regardless of what type of content is being used, or whether the application is in the mode of a traditional "wired web browser".

In short, we should focus what's "in and out of scope" on what is essential for key criteria (e.g. usability/interoperability/efficiency) in mobile web applications in general, however one defines a "web application" and in whatever client environment it is provided, and tie them to concrete use cases and techniques for which we can make useful development guidelines and testable recommendations.

Best regards,
Bryan Sullivan | AT&T

-----Original Message-----
From: public-bpwg-request@w3.org [mailto:public-bpwg-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Charles McCathieNevile
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2008 8:04 PM
To: Sean Owen; Holley Kevin (Centre)
Cc: public-bpwg@w3.org
Subject: Re: ISSUE-237 (Define Mobile Web Applications): What is the definition of a "Mobile Web Application" for the purposes of BP2? [Mobile Web Applications Best Practices]

On Thu, 21 Feb 2008 18:47:54 +0100, Sean Owen <srowen@google.com> wrote:

> I agree, if a widget is acting as a web browser, well, that's fine and 
> in scope. It's a web browser as far as we're concerned.

I also agree that a widget can be in scope. Clearly it is towards one edge of the scope...

> BP1 was, rightly, not focused on the user agent itself, but rather on 
> what the application was delivering. It was convenient to express this 
> as the DDC, a fictional device profile, but again it didn't describe a 
> user agent technology, but rather things that the application could 
> assume were OK to deliver.

I.e. it didn't rely on a particular platform, but on the web (which as Kevin has pointed out is a somewhat nebulous concept - we have a rough idea what it means but we simply don't agree on a precise definition).

> I know people decided to can the ADC, but I think we are just going to 
> end up listing out what an application can and can't assume it can 
> deliver, and that will implicitly define the ADC anyway. In that 
> sense, I am pretty sure that it was a mistake to decide against this.
> I won't squawk if we don't say "ADC" in BP2, even if we are describing 
> it anyway, even if that would draw a nice and easily-understandable 
> parallel to BP1's DDC.

I think the point of avoiding an ADC is that we don't have a precise definition of what is or isn't Web. Jo wanted to rule out SVG because it uses plugins - but that simply isn't the case (and certainly won't be in a year when this work might be finished). Someone said Java and Flash are out because they don't have a DOM. I am very sympathetic to that idea, but I am not sure it flies in the real world - it looks an awful lot like making convenient definitions for spec writers, rather than solving real world problems for people delivering real applications.

I would suggest that we stick to some level of vagueness, saying a Mobile Web application is one that comes from and is expected to work on "the Web", in particular being able to provide a reaasonable user experience on mobiles. So a Widget that happens to work nicely on mobiles is in scope - even if it has a bit of Flash in the corner, but an iPhone native app is out of scope. Opera Mini is probably out of scope (despite the fact that there is a version you can actually run as a web app in a java applet), but search applications are in. VF's Bundesliga thing is almost a Web app, except that it is tied into a walled-garden that means in practice it isn't readily available across the Web - so the same principles should apply to it, but it probably isn't quite in our primary focus. Etc..

And then in practice we focus on the stuff we agree is clearly in scope, like DOM/Ajax/ECMAscript/CSS-based applications you get over HTTP that can run on a variety of browsers...

It's not a beautifully neat way to specify stuff, but I think it is a practical way to get useful work done. Every so often we can pinch off another sausage of useful work and put it out. The Web is, after all, changing, and we should expect it to keep doing so.



> I think Dan's statement is trying to rule out things like, say, J2ME 
> applications communicating with some custom protocol to a server, or 
> Android or iPhone apps, or anything that isn't using "web"
> technologies of the sort I listed.
> On Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 12:21 PM, Holley Kevin (Centre) 
> <Kevin.Holley@o2.com> wrote:
>> I am a bit new to this specific sphere but I have trouble 
>> understanding what "web" really means any more.
>>  A web browser opens a TCP socket over the internet and engages in 
>> http dialogue but also post dialogue and other things.  Today's web 
>> browsers can have other protocols such as ftp, rss, and so on.
>>  So why is a widget which is basically a cut down web browser not a 
>> web application?
>>  What hard criteria in terms of protocol usage can we apply here?
>>  Regards,
>>  Kevin

Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle franšais -- hablo espa˝ol -- jeg lŠrer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals   Try Opera 9.5: http://snapshot.opera.com
Received on Friday, 22 February 2008 16:26:33 UTC

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