Michael Champion Mike.Champion at softwareag-usa.com
Mon Nov 8 14:01:23 GMT 1999

----- Original Message -----
From: Jelks Cabaniss <jelks at jelks.nu>
To: Ann Navarro <ann at webgeek.com>; <xml-dev at ic.ac.uk>
Sent: Monday, November 08, 1999 12:37 AM
Subject: RE: WML vs. XHTML

> What do *you* think of Rohit Khare's comments about the WAP Forum?[1]  And
> would be interesting to know how Phone.com (formerly "Unwired Planet") has
> responded to that article (if indeed they have responded) ...

I for one have read over it quickly.  The gist seems to be that the WAP
forum has bypassed existing standards and standards bodies, locking in
mobile phone users to technologies much less powerful than those in use on
the Internet. My opinions are:

1- I don't *want* to see the same XHTML content on my browser and cellphone;
I want web sites to use XML internally than translate to pretty HTML for v.
2 - v. 4 browsers, let me have the raw XML in v. 5 browsers along with a
link to a stylesheet, and translate to whatever the most appropriate format
for the other platforms (PalmPilot, mobile phones, etc.).  Sure that's more
work for the site builders, but *in principle* it's just a matter of having
a different XSLT stylesheet (XMLScript, or whatever) for each medium.

2- I'll defer to the Phone.com people on the technology; the path of least
resistance would have been to use HTTP, HTML, etc. as is. I have no idea
about the bandwidth and how quickly it will evolve to the level of the Web,
but I assume that the WAP forum didn't re-invent the lower level protocols
for their own amusement. From my playing around with WML I can easily see
that the "card deck" metaphor works better for the screen of a mobile phone
than the "document page" metaphor of the Web, so I'm comfortable with what
they did to define WML.

3 - As for bypassing the standards bodies, as someone who participates in
the W3C, I can sympathize with anyone who forms their own, highly
specialized group in order to get something that THEY need out in time to
hit a small market window.  The IETF and W3C do a great service for
humanity, but they don't exactly work on Internet time, and the WAP forum
people needed something NOW.

4. As for locking people in to soon-to-be-obsolete technology, the WAP Forum
may or may not be guilty here, I don't know.  I do STRONGLY believe that the
underlying XML technologies let specific site builders "future proof"
themselves by separating structure and content from form.  XHTML has a place
in easing the migration from the messy HTML that's out on theWeb now to a
more XML-centric world, but it's place in my scheme of things is *parallel*
to WML as one of several output formats sites will want to transform their
content into.  I don't see XHTML as a universal output format that should
work well on all platforms...

In other words, the title of this thread "WML vs XHTML" seems like a
misnomer to me: WML is an XML output format for small screen, low bandwidth
devices, and XHTML is an XML output format for standard screen, relatively
high bandwidth devices.

Mike Champion

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