Aug 02 2010

Mobile Websites Versus Mobile Applications

Category: Internet,Mobile ComputingTeknovis @ 1:03 pm

Today is a public holiday in Ireland, so I have a bit more time to write about something that has been on my mind for the last weeks.

I often have to work with companies that already have a well designed website, but they have no content designed specifically for mobile devices. These companies normally have a very strong desire to target mobile users, but they are unsure of the best approach.

In an ideal world, if a website is well written in XHTML then it should be possible to create a separate CSS stylesheet to render the pages well on mobile devices. This solution is usually easy to do, but it only provides a very basic user experience.

Therefore, there is normally a requirement to create new content specifically for mobile users. There are normally three different options, and each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Mobile Application

This is probably the most popular option, and it is the option with which most users are familiar. The advantages of this option are:

  • It is possible to create really attractive applications that make maximum use of the underlying hardware (GPS, digital camera, …).
  • It is possible to create a really rich user experience.
  • It gives a presence in in the application store.

This main disadvantages of this option are:

  • It can be expensive to develop a mobile application because it requires specialist skills.
  • It can be difficult to develop for all mobile hardware platforms.
  • The approval process required to get the mobile application into the application store can be very slow and subjective.

There are many examples of such mobile applications :)

Mobile Website

This is probably the second most popular options. It involves creating a second website that is specifically designed for mobile devices. This new website can be hosted on a new domain (.mobi for example), and mobile clients can automatically be redirected there based on the HTTP user agent header.

The advantages of this option are:

  • It can be very quick to develop.
  • It uses existing web development skills.
  • It does not require any third party approval.

The main disadvantage of this option is that it does not give a presence in the application store.

Hybrid Application

The advent of HTML 5 enables another option that consists of developing a skeleton application that is basically a dumbed-down web browser. This application is configured with an application specific title, icon, and start page.

The main advantages of this option are:

  • It is possible to create a really rich user experience.
  • It gives a presence in the application store.
  • It can be very quick to develop.
  • It mostly uses existing web development skills.

The disadvantages of this option are:

  • It is not possible to use the underlying hardware.
  • It still requires third party approval.

Hopefully I have not forgotten anything!

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Jul 10 2009

The End of XHTML 2

Category: Internet,StandardsTeknovis @ 6:18 pm

I read today that the W3C will stop developing XHTML 2 later this year, and it will focus on HTML 5.

I have not had direct experience with either of these standards. However, I have been using XHTML 1.0 and XHTML 1.1 for a long time for my personal web pages (including these web pages).

The full article is An epitaph for the Web standard, XHTML 2, and the official W3C announcement is XHTML 2 Working Group Expected to Stop Work End of 2009, W3C to Increase Resources on HTML 5.

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Mar 30 2009

A Confusing Time

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 8:57 pm

I attend several global conference calls each week. The conference call service provider has an automated system that sends out notifications and reminders. Usually these messages contain the time of the conference call expressed in several different time zones.

The US switched to daylight saving time a few weeks ago, whereas Europe only switched to daylight saving time during the weekend. Unfortunately, the conference call service provider’s system does not realise that this period exists. Therefore, the conference call details have been really confusing for the last weeks, because it was never clear which time and time zone were correct!

I find it a bit surprising that the service provider’s system cannot handle this situation correctly. In Europe we always change our clocks at the same time every year. Perhaps this is not true in the US.

Anyway, thankfully the relative differences between time zones are all correct again!

In order to track time clearly, I decided to put a 24 hour clock showing Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on this blog. The clock is courtesy of ClockLink, but I had to modify the suggested code to create valid XHTML. I have also decided not to change the time on my blog from GMT.

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Oct 23 2008

YouTube in WordPress

Category: SoftwareTeknovis @ 11:03 pm

I have just included a YouTube video in my previous post. I really thought that this would have been a simple task in WordPress, but I was quite disappointed!

The first hurdle was actually figuring out how to paste the HTML code that YouTube supply. This was not too difficult – I just had to switch to the HTML view in WordPress.

The second hurdle appeared when I tried to validate my post. I had not realised it, but the <embed> tag is not supported in XHTML! So I modified the YouTube code as described here.

I really do not understand why YouTube are using this deprecated tag!

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