Device Independent Web access

Hidetaka Ohto, W3C/Panasonic


My area of interest is the adaptation of Web technologies for home appliances such as mobile terminals and TV sets, and I am a member of CC/PP WG in the W3C.

There are significant efforts to integrate Web technologies into mobile terminals, TV sets, and other devices other than the traditional web access equipment such as PC; and those efforts have borne fruits as commercial products.

At the moment, various products and services have been deployed and planned based on various kinds of specifications, which are elaborated while taking the adaptability of those devices into account.

However, on the other hand, there is a desire of device independent web access for allowing the web access across multiple platforms; and exploiting the existing resources such as programmers, tools, contents etc. For example, in the WAP Forum, there is a movement towards the convergence with the existing web technologies such as XHTML, CSS; and I suppose that one of the driving forces of this movement is the desire of device independent web access.

Altough mobile terminals or tv sets have different characteristics with respect to network and/or user interface from those of traditional Web access equipment, those characteristics might be considered as generic issues rather than device specific isssues. I believe that the important thing is to identify the issues and solve them by generic/interoperable mechanisms as much as possible.

W3C efforts

In the W3C, remarkable efforts are under way in many working groups to provide general frameworks for web access with various kinds of devices. For example, in the HTML WG, SYMM WG, CSS & FP WG, modularization and profiling technologies are being developed for constructing lightweight specifications. In the CC/PP WG, description frameworks for device capabilities and user preferences are being developed for content adaptation. In XForms WG, enriched forms are being developed for supporting handheld, television, and desktop browsers, plus printers and scanners in a device independent manner by means of Decoupling data, logic and presentation. Web Accessibility Initiative(WAI) in the W3C is working on making the guideline to make contents accessible for people with disabilities addressing the device independent access issues.

Discussion Items

From this point of view, I hope that we would address and discuss issues in this Workshop such as:

  1. How the markup languages can converge within an XHTML, CSS, SMIL modularization approach.
  2. How can content be transformed for use on different platforms.
  3. What is the good way to coordinate and align web related technologies amongst different organizations.
  4. Is there a need for a new coordination group to harmonize standards developed for mobile, voice, television and desktops?