Looks like discussion has started on the WML Programming Yahoo group about the Global Authoring Practices document that Luca Passani has been working on. I know of Luca because of the WURFL project, and had invited him to come up to the Mobile 2.0 event. He pointed me to GAP, which wasn’t public at the time, but unfortunately we had filled up all the speaking slots and I couldn’t offer him a chance to present. He hasn’t been interested in attending if he can’t speak. I can understand that, most conferences are a broadcast only medium. But we’re really trying to do something different with this conference and want to see the divergent viewpoints represented so that we can get a real conversation going.
I have Luca in my Skype list now and I’ve been trying to catch him to convince him to come. That hasn’t worked out unfortunately, I just haven’t managed to sync up with him. So if some of the MoMo attendees from Openwave can wander over and whisper sweet nothings to Luca and get him to come up for the day, it would be most appreciated! There’s some great insight in what he’s pulled together and I would love to have him at the event. So consider this my public begging. Luca, very sorry I didn’t ping you sooner in putting the speaker list together. Even though we can’t give you a speaking slot, I would very much like to have you there.
About the document itself, it has a much more practical focus than a lot of the other stuff I’ve read recently in getting myself more familiar with the mobile web. Take the section on usability for example, the “Beware of Forms” tips are fantastic – redefining forms as menus is possible in a lot of cases. In wandering to lots of mobile sites over the last month and trying them from different devices (or even different browsers on the same device) the enhanced navigation and forms behavior really is frusteratingly different. Especially for WML sites, where options and actions can end up effectively hidden under second level menus.
I think I’m probably in the group of people that Luca is objecting to with this document. I’m a “one web” person, an advocate of evolving the current split fixed/mobile set of web standards and practices into one environment. Some people mistake that as meaning that I think that accessing the web from a mobile device and your PC should be the same thing, but that’s definitely not what I mean by it. There are particular restrictions, situations, and motivations that exist for a mobile user that normally don’t come up for a PC user. I’m not advocating paving over the whole thing and trying to submerge the differences between the two environments. What I mean is that I think that people are going to want to be able to access the same kinds of “stuff” on their mobile as they do on their PC. Of course they want to interact with it in a different manner, of course the circumstances are different.
The latest round of online activity is all about giving me (the user) more control over my content and my friends and my communication. How can we transform the practice of making web applications such that new crops of web applications are mobile by default? That’s what I mean by “one web”. Practically, I really don’t care if thats done using a single set of HTML with different stylesheets, server side device adaptation, or little elves who live in carrier networks and can rewrite web markup languages inline in realtime. There are positives and negatives to each, and because there’s no clear winner or roadmap for navigating the alternatives the average web developer can’t be bothered to care. That’s the problem I would like to fix.