Editor's Corner

Mobile Web revisited

It looks like I hit a nerve with my column on mobile web standards. I don't think I can succinctly summarize all the comments I've received via email and on FierceDeveloper.com, but suffice to say that building mobile websites is a tough business and lots of very smart people disagree about the right approach.

I admit that I may have painted the Web standards debate with a broad brush, but that's because I don't think its worthwhile to argue the minutia of, say, whether or not mobile Web sites should use tables for layout. That's something that each author must decide for himself or herself. And, really, that's the point I was trying to make. There is no One True Way for delivering content over the Web and no universal standard to fall back on. The best advice I can give to developers is to read all the specification documents, read all the best practices, and test obsessively in as many different browsers as possible.

The idea of a device-independent "One Web" is an excellent, worthy goal, but in some ways I do believe it is Utopian (and GAP author Luca Passani and I aren't the only ones who think so). Generating 100% standards-compliant XHTML without browser adaptation is tough on the desktop and really tough when you factor in mobile browsers. As Jason Delport recently wrote, "the only sane choice for small development houses like ours is to follow what each group are saying, contribute wherever possible but ultimately stay loyal only to the end user... My more important concern should be that the code actually works, today, and in as many browsers as possible." Nobody wants a "content soup" solution, but if that's what works best today, it's certainly a valid option. - Eli

Useful mobile Web Developer resources: