One of the key issues that I think is going to come up in the context of the Mobile Web Best Practices working group that I’m going to chair is that of Accessibility. To put it simply, what is the intersection of Web “accessibility” and Web “mobility?” To be sure, a lot of what makes a Web content accessible can also aid it in being Mobile browser friendly. Some times I hear people say that a user of a browser on mobile is “disabled” in a way because of the limitations of the mobile device. I disagree with this notion. I think β€” and forgive me for this β€” that users of mobile browsers are actually “differently-abled” in the truest sense. There are both advantages and disadvantages to mobile browsing. For example, you have the disadvantage of the smaller screen but the (at least potential) advantage of mobility and location awareness. But there is definitely an intersection. The Mobile Web Best Practices group will have to develop a set of guidelines and a checklist, akin to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines checklist, and in reviewing the WCAG checklist, it seems like much of it could be imported or referenced (subject, of course, to the consensus of the working group). The trick will be determining the intersection of mobility and accessibility. Surely, some of the WCAG guidelines will directly map on to Mobility requirements whereas some won’t. For example, careful use of color, or providing alternate visual cues when color is used as an interface element is …

When is a Duck also a Fish? Read more »

So here at the W3C Advisory Committee meeting, there has been a lot of discussion on spam, and phishing and malware and viruses and lions and tigers, etc… and whether W3C ought to be doing anything in these areas. I think this is worthy discussion, but my personal Web Pet Peeve is actually much (I think) more straight forward to address. It’s sites that have a complicated start page which takes a little time to load, with a log-in form on the page. Either because of a script in the page or because of the browser’s own “smart” features, when you click in this form (usually a username and password box) to log in to go to the next page, you get half-way done and then poof! either what you’ve been typing disappears or is replaced with something else or is mangled in some way. FOR GOD SAKE, can’t the browser understand it’s not supposed to muck around in a text input field that I’m in the middle of typing into? Sheesh!

So tomorrow I’m off to Boston for the W3C10 Symposium (which will be good fun) and the W3C Advisory Committee meeting (actual work). I’ve been doing Web (and before then publishing by email and FTP) since before there was a W3C — when an address with a “.com” was a rarity because most people connected to the Internet were at Universities or in the Military. But beyond all the old fogies recounting their Web war stories, I actually think this symposium is a good idea. Every so often, it’s important to look back at where you’ve been and how you got there, and I’m hoping W3C10 will be such an opportunity.

So last week, I co-chaired a W3C workshop on the “Mobile Web.” It was really challenging bringing such a diverse group of companies together for this, but in the end it was a great success. Read the paper I wrote for Vodafone and see what I had to say about this, and read the papers from the other participants. Also, read the C-Net coverage! (Although, C-Net got the category wrong — it’s not “Web Services,” that’s something different. Sigh…) An aspect of my job that I really enjoy is that I am actually passionate about these issues. I believe that working for a better mobile web would be a good thing not just because it serves the commercial interests of my company, but because I think it would be a good thing overall. I hate broken things, and the Mobile Web is broken right now. The industry collectively has a chance to fix things, but only if it comes together. I’ll be working hard over the coming months to make that happen — leave a comment here if you have any ideas.

I have to say — it’s better. I’ve been using it for a few months now in different incarnations and I’m impressed. It’s so fast that it makes this dinosaur of a laptop at work seem fast. It may be sacrilege to say so, but it’s even better than Safari — for one, it works with many sites that break under Safari (such as my online bank).

So I’m here in Sophia Antipolis at this W3C working group meeting for XML Compound Documents. It doesn’t sound very sexy, but actually… well OK it isn’t very sexy. But it’s potentially important for the development of the Mobile Web — in particular how XHTML and SVG can be combined to produce better user experiences on mobile devices. Better in what sense? A well defined language profile for combining XHTML and SVG means that content producers (“Web Sites”) can have more confidence that markup will work across a range of devices and therefore more confidence that people will be able to use their services.

Yes! This blog is now XHTML and CSS compliant. I find it doubly ironic that in order to do what I wanted to do (align images to the right in the posts) in this new “easier” way to publish on the Web, I had to go back and learn CSS and XHTML syntax. All images now have alt tags as well, which is at least a start at accessibility.