Thursday, August 21, 2008

Qantas iPhone Mobile Web Site

Qantas have created a subset of its web site for mobile phone users called "Qantas WAP". This provides Timetable, Arrivals, Departures, Contacts and an email address for Feedback. According to ITWire (iPhone popularity with tailored website, Stephen Withers 19 August 2008) the pages have been tailored to suit the iPhone 3G (and you can see the iPhone version using developer features in Apple desktop Safari browser), with versions for BlackBerry and other smartphone to follow. However, I found it works fine in the Firefox and Opera desktop browsers.

Qantas provide a simplified web page to suit mobile devices, even to a desktop browser. This can be useful as web pages designed for mobile devices tend to be faster to load and easier to read. The pages are coded in XHTML Mobile 1.0, a cut down version of HTML (associated with WAP 2). The mobile version seems to be being provided by Telstra, with references to Telstra's mobile portal appearing occasionally.

It looks like the developers have taken the sensible path of creating a general purpose mobile web interface, rather than one heavily customised for different smartphones. The code includes access keys, so pressing "3" on a phone will select the third option on the menu for "departures". But the menu is in the form of a table, not a numbered list, so the user would be unlikely to know they could press 3. This looks like a very early and tentative attempt at a mobile interface, of the sort a second year university student might do on their first attempt. The page failed both W3C Validation (66 errors) and W3C Mobile OK tests (5 errors).



Code for the page:
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD XHTML Mobile 1.0//EN" "">
<html xmlns="">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
<title>Qantas WAP</title>
<body link="#990000" alink="#990000" vlink="#990000" text="#000000">
<table width="100%" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="3" bgcolor="#FFFFFF">
<td bgcolor="#990000"><img src="/img/wap/logo_qantas.gif" width="109" height="32"></td>
<table border="0" width="100%" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0">
<td><img src="/img/wap/icon_tail.gif" border="0" hspace="3"> <a href="/flightinfo/do/dyn/SchedWAP?imode=true" accesskey="1"><font size="3">Timetable</font></a></td>
<td><img src="/img/wap/icon_tail.gif" border="0" hspace="3"> <a href="/flightinfo/dyn/wap/search_arrivals" accesskey="2"><font size="3">Arrivals</font></a></td>
<td><img src="/img/wap/icon_tail.gif" border="0" hspace="3"> <a href="/flightinfo/dyn/wap/search_departures" accesskey="3"><font size="3">Departures</font></a></td>
<td><img src="/img/wap/icon_tail.gif" border="0" hspace="3"> <a href="/flightinfo/dyn/wap/contacts" accesskey="4"><font size="3">Contacts</font></a></td>
<td><img src="/img/wap/icon_tail.gif" border="0" hspace="3"> <a href="" accesskey="5"> <font size="3">Feedback</font></a></td>
<table width="100%" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
<td bgcolor="#990000">&nbsp;<img src="/img/wap/icon_backarrows.gif" border="0" width="15" height="19">&nbsp;<a href=""><font color="#FFFFFF">Home</font></a></td>

<!-- SiteCatalyst code version: G.7. Copyright 1997-2004 Omniture, Inc. More info available at v1.1 Shub 14/09/06 -->
<img src=" - Qantas WAP - Home" alt="" />
<!-- End SiteCatalyst code version: G.7. -->

The page failed a W3C mobileOK Checker [Beta], but this might be due to limitations in the test, not the page:

NB: Note that this service is very experimental: it is based on a beta-released library, and based on a non-yet stabilized version of W3C mobileOK Basic. Please get involved to help improve this service!

Evaluating with mobileOK Basic gives the following results:

This page is not mobileOK Basic!


  1. Error Tests failed: 5 / 25
  2. Info Tests passed: 20 / 25
  3. Warning Warnings: 3

The page failed W3C Validation: with 66 errors. These appear to be real errors due to the use of incorrect markup in the page:

Errors found while checking this document as XHTML Mobile Profile 1.0!

Result: 66 Errors
: iso-8859-1
: XHTML Mobile Profile 1.0
Root Element: html
Root Namespace:

Help on the options is available.

↑ Top

Validation Output: 66 Errors

Error Line 8, Column 11: there is no attribute "link".
"#990000" alink="#990000" vlink="#990000" text="#000000"> ...

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Web Pages for Mobile Phones

The W3C is continuing to progress with how to get web pages into a suitable format for mobile phones and other handheld devices. They have released "Content Transformation Guidelines 1.0" (W3C Working Draft 14 April 2008). These were prepared by Jo Rabin, mTLD Top Level Domain (dotMobi) and describe how web pages can be automatically transformed to make them more suitable for mobile devices.This can be done by a proxy server in between the web server and the web browser, or it can be done by the web server itself or even by the hand held device.

Of course content which was prepared without any thought that it might be read on other than a desktop computer is not going to necessarily transofrm well. The
Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 - Basic Guidelines suggest what a mobile device will need and would help in doing the web pages well in the first place.

But a looming problem is that the mobile people are working on XHTML standards and meanwhile a different group is working on HTML 5. This problem becomes apparent in devices such as the Apple iPhone and Apple iPod Touch, which the designers believe can render desktop web pages themselves and so do not activate mobile CSS style sheets.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

XHTML Basic 1.1 is less basic but is it better?

The W3C defined "XHTML Basic" as a cut down version of HTML, for low power and hand-held devices , including mobile phones, iTV, PDAs, coke machines and car dashboards. A new Working Draft of XHTML Basic 1.1 was released 5 July 2006. I used XHTML Basic 1.0 for teaching web design for general, mobile and accessible devices.

XHTML Basic 1.0 includes web headings, paragraphs, lists, links, basic forms, tables and images. It leaves out frames and styles defined inside the document (you had to use external style sheets). This makes it much easier to stop web designers learning bad habits. Instead of just saying "don't spread formatting information throughout your document, put it in a style sheet", a syntax driven editor will enforce this rule with XHTML Basic. If the designer uses a non-conforming tool, their web pages will not validate when tested.

This is okay for teaching, but XHTML Basic left out some useful stuff for the real world. I use the "Target" attribute to do web pages for group presentations. When you click on an external link, this opens a second window on the browser. It works very well on in an Access Grid room, with multiple screens: the main presentation stays open on one screen and you can open referenced document on another. But XHTML Basic 1.0 doesn't have the target attribute.

Also having to use external style sheets becomes annoying. You have to define a style sheet just to change one little part of a web page.

Revision, 1.1 of XHTML Basic the W3C have added these features back, along with:
  • XHTML Forms (defined in [XHTMLMOD])
  • Intrinsic Events (defined in [XHTMLMOD])
  • The value attribute for the li element (defined in [XHTMLMOD])
  • The inputmode attribute
Of course, it will be some time before tools support XHTML Basic 1.1 and there are some grumbles about it leaving the path of purity.

There is also a new "Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 - Basic Guidelines", 2 November 2006, to help with doing web pages for phones, TVs and PDAs.

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