Bringing the Web to Handheld Devices: Practical Issues

Curtis Yarvin, Ian Porteous

The original promise of HTML was an abstract markup language for representing structured information in a common, display-independent format. Over the past few years, it has evolved into a rendering specification for a small number of desktop browsers. It's become practically impossible to build a browser which does not comply with visual formatting instructions suitable only for high-resolution PC displays.

For the Web to support the new generation of handheld devices, this paradigm will have to shift back. It's impossible to subtract from the power and control of modern HTML. This problem must be solved by extending the HTML infrastructure with new solutions: formats, protocols, and tools. A variety of such solutions are becoming available. Each offers a set of questions for the future of HTML:

It's clear that no one technology will satisfy all needs, and it's important for us to understand and define the tradeoffs and architectural choices, identify potential protocols and formats, and standardize them as soon as possible. Geoworks sees the Web as crucial to the success of wireless network computers and smart phones, and we expect the W3C standards process to play a key role in the solution of this problem.