I’ve been waiting for a while to see the FIFA stuff, which was rumoured to be very mobile-friendly. So when Christian posted about the FIFA site being up I headed over there and poked around for a while. Great site! And I think the cup is going to be big in the US this year. I’ve heard a lot more people talking about it and seen much more advertising than I have in previous years.
When I put the fifa.com URL into the native browser on my 6680 I got a very nice looking mobile layout. So of course I started digging to see what they were doing on the site itself. Bringing up source on the FIFA.com site yeilded no hints though. No mobile stylesheet, so I assumed it must be keyed off the user agent (a-la WURFL or something similar). I changed the user agent returned by firefox to “Nokia6680/1.0 (2.04.15) SymbianOS/8.0 Series60/2.6 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1″, same as that returned by my phone. Here are some simple instructions for changing the user agent in Firefox for anyone who wants to fool around some. That did it, I got the layout I expected when I pulled up the page with the agent sent as if I were a Nokia phone.
This is something I really see as an ongoing problem in mobile web development. A lot of the knowledge about how to make something work on the mobile web is now walled off in server logic instead of laid bare for everyone to see and share. For most applications there’s application logic that lives on the server side and ends up somewhat walled off (although that doesn’t have to be, Ning is working to reverse even that). But the presentation side was always something that lived fundamentally in a “visible source” environment. That’s part of what made it work, and I think part of the reason it continues to progess the way it does. Unfortunately the mobile side doesn’t seem to be benefitting from the intrinsic transparency. Making a good mobile website currently really demands a technique like this be used. The more this stuff stays closed off the more I think we’re going to see fragmentation and competition within the segment. Is there a good way to make a functional mobile site and at the same time put all that presentation logic out for all to see?