Developing integrated mobile web applications
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Developing Integrated Mobile Web Applications. Jeff Foust Purpose. Think about the challenges of developing mobile web apps A look at one approach for mobile web apps See samples of approach you can use today. Outline.

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Developing integrated mobile web applications

Developing IntegratedMobile Web Applications

Jeff Foust


  • Think about the challenges of developing mobile web apps

  • A look at one approach for mobile web apps

  • See samples of approach you can use today


  • The challenges of mobile applications

  • One approach for developing mobile applications

  • One example: WAP

  • Another example: PalmOS

The challenges of mobile applications
The Challenges of Mobile Applications

  • Low bandwidth

  • Small display size

  • Connectivity issues

  • User input issues

Challenge low bandwidth
Challenge:Low Bandwidth

  • PCs access at speeds from 56k to T1 and beyond

  • Wireless devices limited to 19.2k, often less

  • 2.5G and 3G hold promise for the future, but be prepared to wait...

Challenge small displays
Challenge:Small Displays

  • PCs have large displays, resolutions of 800x600 pixels and up

  • Handhelds (PalmOS and PocketPC) from 160x160 to 320x320 pixels

  • WAP phones may offer just a few lines of text

Challenge connectivity
Challenge: Connectivity

  • PCs have little trouble obtaining and maintaining a connection (other than busy signals)

  • Mobile connectivity spotty, with dead zones, limited coverage areas, etc.

Challenge user input
Challenge: User Input

  • PCs offer rich input devices: large keyboards, mice, etc.

  • Mobile devices limited to tiny keypads, stylus input (Graffiti): slower and more error-prone

So what does this mean
So what does this mean?

  • The web browser has emerged as the primary interface between users and applications on PCs

  • This model will not work well on handheld devices given the challenges outlined previously


  • Why do we have to treat mobile devices as another platform for running a web browser?

  • These devices are not dumb terminals: they can run a wide range of other apps

Another model
Another model

  • Don’t take information from or display to a browser

  • Instead, transfer information directly to and from the relevant applications:

    • Phone numbers in address book

    • Schedules in date book

    • Et cetera...

Example 1 a wap phone book
Example 1:A WAP phone book

  • One of the canonical examples of a WAP application is looking up a phone number

  • Such apps display phone numbers on the screen…

  • ...but if you’re looking up a number on your phone, you probably want to make a call!

Turning phone numbers into links
Turning phone numbers into links

  • Wireless Telephony Application Interface (WTAI)

    • Extensions to WAP

    • Offers support to initiate phone calls, access internal phone book, etc.

    • Supported by some, but not all, phones

How it works
How it works

<go href=“wtai://wp/mc;6175551234”/>

wtai: URL protocol

wp: a public WTAI library

mc: initiate a phone call (think “mobile call”)

6175551234: the phone number (note no punctuation in the form of ()/-.+ etc.)


  • Not supported by all microbrowsers

  • Similar technique exists for entering data into a phone’s internal phone book, but even less widely supported

Example 2 a palmos scheduling app
Example 2: A PalmOS scheduling app

  • Web Clipping Applications (PQAs) are a common way to provide access to web applications for wireless PalmOS devices

  • PQAs can also insert data into applications, with a little effort

What s needed
What’s needed

  • PalmOS device with Web Clipping support:

    • Palm VII/VIIx

    • Palm/Visor with OmniSky modem

    • Palm with Mobile Internet Kit

  • PQA development tools

  • iKnapsack and AddPalmData plugin

How it works1
How it works

  • Web Clipping supports palm and palmcall URL methods:

    • palm: launch specified application

    • palmcall:launch app in background

  • These can’t transfer data into native core apps but can into third-party apps

How it works con t
How it works (con’t)

  • Format data to transfer to iKnapsack

  • iKnapsack then transfers data to appropriate application and displays message

Formatting data for iknapsack an example
Formatting data for iKnapsack: an example

palmcall:iSAK.appl?iPLG=iADD&type=1&desc=Sample Event&date=2001-09-08&start=10:30&end=12:00

This creates an event titled “Sample Event” that starts at 10:30 am on September 8, 2001 and ends at 12:00 pm for entry into the Date Book

Other notes
Other notes

  • iKnapsack supports:

    • Address Book

    • Date Book

    • Memo Pad

    • To Do List

    • Expense

  • No support for third-party applications, though

Other solutions
Other Solutions

  • OmniSky OneTap

    • XML-based solution for two-way data transfer

    • Works on OmniSky network, but with wider range of devices (PPC)

  • Coola

    • Various solutions for sync and wireless information transfer into PalmOS applications


  • Integrating web applications with mobile applications has many benefits

  • It is possible to start doing this now, in rudimentary ways

  • More advanced and sophisticated integration techniques should be possible soon