Re: W3C validator accessed by WML and XHTML-MP mobile phones.

Hi Tom,

Thanks for raising the topic. I think that's an excellent idea.

> Is there any merit or thoughts on the benefits of being able to access 
> the W3C validator via a mobile phone?

I guess one could say there is no immediate benefit because people are 
unlikely to use their mobile phone to write and/or check Web content 
nowadays, but I don't think that's enough a reason not to do it. You may 
very well be on the go and require to check a Web page because you're 
having a discussion with a friend/colleague about some Web content, and 
I see no reason why the report should not be accessible just because 
you're not in front of your desktop screen.

> Not so much the iPhone over Wifi, I'm thinking about all the GSM, GPRS 
> and CDMA mobile phones using their native browsers which  'pay'  for 
> their bandwidth.


Note the W3C Mobile Web Best Practices working group has developed a set 
of Mobile Web Best Practices [1] to follow when authoring Web content to 
improve the user experience when the content is accessed from mobile 
devices. On top of these Mobile Web Best Practices, the notion of 
mobileOK content [2] was created. A Web page is mobileOK when it passes 
all the tests defined in the specification, and this basically means 
that main mobile constraints were taken into account while developing 
the page and that the page can be displayed correctly by a vast majority 
of mobile devices. The mobileOK Checker may be used to check whether a 
Web page is or is not mobileOK:

I'm the W3C Staff Contact for the Mobile Web Best Practices Working 
Group and am maintaining the W3C mobileOK Checker.

> I'm considering the WML and XHTML-MP 1.2 markup as an access document 
> type with mobile best practice content sent to the mobile phone.

In terms of markup, the W3C validator service returns XHTML 1.0 Strict 
content that already validates against the XHTML Basic 1.1 and XHTML MP 
1.2 doctypes. XHTML Basic 1.1 and XHTML MP 1.2 are roughly the same 
thing and are a subset of XHTML Strict 1.1. There is hardly anything to 
change on that front, except of course if you want to come up with a WML 
version of the report (I would personally not focus on WML at this point 
as its usage is (very slowly) fading away but that doesn't mean it can't 
be done).

Thinking aloud, the main issues to address to create a more 
mobile-friendly version of the markup validator could be:

1. the size of the report:
  - it should be pretty easy to return a report with simplified error 
messages (with, say, a link to a page that contains more details on a 
given error message)
  - it should be pretty easy as well to remove unnecessary images (e.g. 
the warning/error bullets) in a mobile representation of a report.
  - the report may still be big though. The real solution would be 
pagination, but that unfortunately would require some kind of session 
management on the server (to be able to return page 2/3/...). This may 
have to be done at a later phase.

2. the layout: a specific mobile CSS to remove left/right margins and 
thus save precious space on a limited screen is probably needed.

3. tables should be used with care in the mobile world, and it would 
probably be better to linearize the table at the beginning of a report.

4. the Javascript on the home page: when Javascript support is turned 
off, all three forms appear (Validate by URI/File Upload/direct input) 
and that's not particularly user friendly on mobile devices that do not 
support Javascript.

5. validation by file input cannot work on most mobile devices anyway

6. validation by direct input does not make a lot of sense either, 
although it may still be of some use in some rare case

In terms of implementation, I'm not familiar with the W3C Markup 
Validator. I suppose the best would be to create a mobile template 
similar to:
... and somehow detect mobile phones and automatically switch to the 
mobile template and/or provide the user with the possibility to switch 
from one layout to the other. Some of the points above (namely 2. and 
3.) may actually not require any content adaptation and could perhaps be 
integrated in the default template.

What do you/others think? Other ideas?

[As a side note, the report of the mobileOK Checker is not 
mobile-friendly either, and I'm planning to go through the same kind of 
exercise at some point in a not so far away future]



Received on Thursday, 5 March 2009 17:59:57 UTC