W3C "Mobile Web Initiative" Workshop

Position Paper


Dr Keith A. Marlow

Yahoo! Europe Engineering


I have been working on better presentation of various types of content, either provider sourced or user sourced. In order to provide the best user experience a system has been developed that renders content to match to the users device capabilities. This gives us, due to our dynamics and network exposure, a rather unique view on the issues involved in content presentation into the mobile space. The main points I would like to see discussed are given below.


Firstly, I have found that the standards employed for device capability discovery on Internet based servers are perhaps not as "battle hardened" as they should be for such a critical role in the rendering process. Often profiles are incomplete, strangely formatted, or not just "there" to be used. I feel that there should be emphasis given to sharpening the existing standards. Currently I have to "merge" several standards or conventions on-the-fly, whilst taking into account security issues and known "warts" to come to a "true" view of the capabilities of the user's handset - it should be easier than this.


Secondly, day-to-day security issues for mobile content servers that use device capability discovery standards seem to have been lightly covered in the existing standards. I feel more emphasis should be given to making the standards less susceptible to manipulation by hackers.


Thirdly, the distinction between mobile / portable and wireless is becoming ever more "blurred". Therefore issues which face the web space today will become issues to be faced on mobile devices sooner rather than later. For instance, disabled access? What specifically is in the standards to aid disabled users? Are UK mobile sites technically illegal with respect to the legislation in the UK at the moment?