“…The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.”
from “The Oven Bird”, by Robert Frost
Some people like to start off presentations with jokes; I prefer to start the off with poems (well, excerpts from poems).
About me: I live and work in Tokyo, for Opera Software, as a
"Web Opener". What that title means would take me some time to
explain, but basically, I work for the Opera web-standards
Just flew in on an all-night flight from JFK to CDG that arrived at 6am, so I may be a little bit loopy.
The slides in this presentation are heavy on words; sorry in advance for the lack of interesting images in this presentation; it’s not a canned presentation, but instead something I put together specifically for this event.
I have a lot to cover, so given the limited I will go through this presentation very quickly. (Though 15 minutes is actually a luxury; I once did a presenation at the MobileMonday Global Summit awards where I had only 3 minutes…)
Sorry to start of the presentation with stuff about contacting me, but please bear with me for a minute (I don't want you to walk away from here without knowing how to follow up with me).
I live in Tokyo but work odd hours and am on the road a lot.
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to anybody, to share my, um, wisdom about smart browsing software for mobile devices, and about access to the Web from mobile devices.
Go ahead and quote me if (even quote me out of context if you want -- it'll give me a good opportunity to reach more people and clarify what I actually said).
Now a little bit about where to take further discussion after this presentation…
You may or may not want to discuss some things with me after
This is really just another jumping-off point to get further discussion going.
So let's make sure we find an appropriate place to have the discussion.
On that note, let's see next slide...
Don't isolate discussions only to blogs. At best, blogs are
just the starting point for a discussion that should be followed
up somewhere else if it's worthy of further discussion. At
worse, blogs are just vanity "hey, sign my yearbook" backwaters,
or places for people to do safely do narcisstic ranting without
exposing themselves to the need to engage in real discussion.
web-based forums are suboptimal for many reasons
Contentious discussion and open arguments online are also important.
Which brings us to the next slide...
I work on a class of software that could perhaps be described
as disruptive technology. That class of software is what I'll be
talking about today (see the subtitle of this talk)
Some people genuinely feel that in making the kind of software we make, we are taking the wrong approach and that what we are doing is out of touch with the needs of businesses that need to deliver Web content to mobile devices, and out of touch with the needs of users who want to access Web content from mobile devices.
Others argue that the class of software I work on, as it gains more market acceptance, perhaps represents a serious threat to the business models of some existing companies.
Some, in fact, would very much like to see us fail.
I do not have time to present a lot of context information about this controversy up front; I will present it at the end if I have time.
So, while we’re on the subject of controversy, and before I go into details about specific software and technology, I’d like to introduce a particular assertion…
Content being Web content.
A message to content providers/developers.
From a blog entry that Jo Rabin posted this month.
That statement does not necessarily reflect his own views; instead they represent his description of the views of people who support the so-called “One Web”.
I highly recommend reading the “Mobile Web Best Practices” guidlines.
I will discuss the “One Web” concept more later if I have time.
Implicit in this, I guess, it the notion that your presumptions about users may not always be correct.
One specific way to rephrase that assertion is: If you have content that you are making available to users browsing the Web from desktop PCs, do not deny users of mobile devices access to that same content.
So let’s now state a premise related to that assertion…
Now I want to state a premise and see where it leads to…
Content providers are the site owners and developers who control the servers from which Web content is served.
There is a gulf here between what content providers should be doing with respect to making their content available to mobile users (according to best-practice guidelines) and what they are actually doing.
Later in the presentation (if I have time), I will discuss what “content adaptation” is, and at what points in the content delivery chain it can take place.
A smart browser basically does the work of making content judgements and formatting adjustments and that a human being would have otherwise been making do adapt the content server-side.
In “desktop mode”, the browser viewport acts as a sort of magnifying glass that is focused on one particular part of a page at a time.
Currently, HTML does not provide a standard way for marking up navigation menus, so the work of identifying navigation-menu is basically an artificial-intelligence task.
This presentation is a primarily a discussion of “smart” mobile browsers as a class of software, but Opera does not pay me to go places and talk about this stuff strictly in the abstract. And though there are some companies out there other that Opera that are making smarter mobile web browsers (some of them are maybe in this room now), I’m not here to do their marketing for them.
So I’ll take some time now to talk about what Opera is doing to serve the need for smarter mobile browsers.
Current production version of Opera Mini is 2.0. Beta version of Opera Mini 3.0 is available and supports SSL/TLS and a number of others things.
[+]to indicate where in the page the list of links occurs
Eliminating or moving long lists of links is one of the main design changes that mobile-authoring guidelines suggest content providers/developers should make; Opera Mini can do it programmatically.
The Nintendo DS is less powerful (as a platform for running a browser) than many mobile phones (certainly less powerful than most mobile phones currently being marketed in Japan), yet we still managed to get Opera Mobile running on it well.
Opera Mobile goes farther by providing mobile users not just with access to static web sites, but also with access to interactive web applications.
Perhaps a web application is most often something that users interact with in order to complete a task (as compared with, say, a news page or something that users simply read).
Of course there are security issues around this. There are security issues around doing anything powerful and useful on any network-connected device.
We have seen user movement on the destkop away from installed apps and toward web-based (RIA) apps.
Is appli a Japan-specific term? I don’t know what else to call “appli”…
We have a lot of powerful web apps to look forward to.
But let’s get back to the discussion about content adaptation…
The guidelines don’t offer any guidance as far as client-side apaptation goes…
The context in which I'll make my comments is an ongoing controversy about a concept called "One Web" and the concept of a separate "Mobile Web".
The W3C puts some of its resources into work on the "One Web" approach. Jo Rabin has jokingly referred to the W3C as the "Church of One Web".
Experienced/working real-world mobile-specific developers and businesses (and perhaps the Open Mobile Alliance) tend to put their resources into the "Mobile Web" approach.
Some advocates of the “One Web” approach avoid using the term “Mobile Web” as a noun and instead just use it as an adjective.
One thing that it’s important to note about "One Web" is that it is not just about extending Web access just to mass-market mobile phones; it’s about extending it to a range of devices: game machines like the Nintendo Wii and portable Nintendo DS, the Sony Mylo, set-top boxes, back-of-seat monitors on airplanes, etc.
MWBP 3.1 add this clarification about the meaning of “Open Web”: “it does not mean that exactly the same information is available in exactly the same representation across all devices.
I don't want to mischaracterize arguments on either side…
There are people advocates of both approaces who have very strong opinions
We are not being fair to one another when we try to mischaracterize the two different approaches.
But do the two approaches necessarily conflict with one another? next slide...
Advocates of "One Web" intentionally
mischaracterize/misrepresent the arguments of the other side,
while the other side intentionally mischaracterize/misrepresent
the One Web advocates.
But "One Web" and "Mobile Web" can live together in peace (coexist in harmony)...
I am not a WAP-hater. One of my all-time favorite sites has a separate mobile-specific site…
The current mobile-specific version of the site lacks a mechanism to let me save favorite events and other preferences. The "one Web" version of the site provides personalization features, but the TAB developers have not yet done much to "mobilize" it or to make it "mobile considerate", so using the mobile-specific site is currently quicker (mostly). I actually volunteered months ago to help out with adding the personalization features to the mobile-specific site. But now I'm more inclined to look into how the "one Web" site may be tuned (through use of a handheld stylesheet) for quicker and cleaner access from the "PC Site Viewer" (Opera Mobile). Anyway, I like having the choices available…
This is where I pick sides.
I don’t like the idea of limiting user’s choices.
My experience tells me that Users do not always want to be corralled into limited mobile-specific sites only; they sometimes (often) want to have access to the full Web. If there are in fact "walled gardens", they don't want to be restricted to them.
But forget about my opinion – what do existing guidelines say about user choice?
The W3C Mobile Web Best Practices guidelines recognize the need to enable users to make their own choices about how the want content presented them.
The language in MWBP 3.6 is diplomatic and the underlying principle can be stated a bit more emphatically…
A message to content providers/developers.
It would be hard to come up with a more cogent statement of the principle of user choice with respect to access to the Web from mobile devices thatn this amplification of MWBP by Jo Rabin.
But not everybody agrees with this prinicple…
The “Global Authoring Practices for the Mobile Web” document posits itself as an alternative to MWBP that is more in touch with business realities and developer realities, and more in touch with usability principles
Do not dismiss the author as a crank; his comments represent the views of a lot of working developers and content providers; they just don’t express their views quite so emphatically.
But the problem with this principle is that it restricts users’ choices.
Might it be possible to find some middle ground?
Allow choices; don’t make presumptions about users.
Opera’s Chief Standards Officer (Charles McCathieNevile) says there are no dumb questions, but I think there actually are, in fact, dumb questions. As a presenter, I like to get those kinds of questions, because then people mock you instead of me. So please go ahead and ask those kinds of questions, and embarrass yourself. It will take some pressure off me. The dumber the question, the better.
Of course I also welcome smart questions.