Global Authoring Practices

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.

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10 Responses to Global Authoring Practices

  1. I agree w/ you, I’m on the same school of thought as you are. In the past I’ve tried to address it thru device adaptation (server)… and it works well… but I think I like the “little elves” solution better :-)


  2. Luca Passani says:

    >…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

    so, why didn’t you find a slot for me?

    I am sorry, but I am not convinced that there was no space for me. It looks more like you don’t wanna spoil the good relationship you have with the BP gang, so you kept me out. Just look at the list of speakers (not to
    mention the fact that the chair of BPWG is the host).



  3. miker says:

    Cause I didn’t learn about the stuff you were working on until after we had already filled up all the slots for speakers we had. Your message almost makes it sound like I’m part of some best practices maffia… I’m unsure how to react. I’ve only been looking at the mobile web overall for a few months, after working with bits of the technologies for a few years. In some respects it’s in a desperate state, and warring factions never really help that.

  4. Luca Passani says:

    Mike, quoting from your article:

    “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.”

    Good, but then why did you get only the people who already sing in the choir to speak? you might at least have created a pannel, an extensive Q&A session or something like that. Who is speaking for developers at your event? yet developers are those left with the task of making “bits of technologies in desperate state” work.



  5. miker says:

    I have no idea Luca, it’s a complex environment that’s hard to navigate, and I don’t claim to know everything. I barely even know what you’re talking about, let alone who would be a good choice for it. So help me out here.

    I’m trying to put a conference together to help people learn, myself included. What would really help out are suggestions, instead of just ranting. Who can I invite to represent the viewpoints you think are important? Someone hopefully who won’t demand a speaking spot in order to participate. I’m not even taking a speaking spot myself, even though I’m working at a mobile focused company who I think would have a lot to add. I’m more interested in getting the folks together and listening instead of talking. If you’re not willing to attend who should I try to encourage to come to represent the viewpoint?

  6. Luca Passani says:

    I don’t understand. Is there a way to speak at your conference without a speaking slot?


  7. miker says:

    Sure, by coming and attending the conference and talking to the people there.

  8. Luca Passani says:

    not exactly the same thing, don’t you think?

    BTW, how do I avoid the $45 fee?


  9. miker says:

    You come Luca and I’ll pay for your registration out of my own pocket. I’ll buy a round of drinks if you want to sit down and talk about GAP while we’re there. Let me know, I would happily make sure you’re registered.

  10. Paving says:

    Good afternoon! I was surfing the internet Saturday afternoon during my break, and found your blog by searching MSN for paving. This is a topic I have great interest in, and follow it closely. I liked your insight on Global Authoring Practices, and it made for good reading. Keep up the good work…

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