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WML to the (wireless) masses

For the netizen who spends all Internet time on a laptop or PC, the question of WML (Wireless Markup Language) may seem like something of a fleeting mirage that some up-normal faction flirts with incessantly somewhere in the spidery nether-reaches of the Web. Yes, WML references turn up on the Web sometimes. But only marketers, software coders/developers, and mobile screen computer users really know what it means. The rest of us — the curious — find out as third parties.

Origins of wireless handheld Internet

Owning and using a hand-held device isn’t what it used to be. Oh, still a number will have small screens. But a good many of them now operate in wireless fashion and can perform networking across the Internet in a number of ways. These small appliances range from electronic readers such as Kindle to mobile communication units using infrastructural 3G or satellite up-link.

Relating smaller screens to their specs

Neither were the small screen of handhelds what it used to be. Let’s travel back in time five years to 2009, July 21st, and look at the specs of the Sony Ericsson W518a, “The Walkman.” This obvious call capable unit boasted a screen of a mere 2.25 inches with 320 px ×240 px resolution — and 262,144 colors. By contrast, the original Commodore 64 home computer had a screen resolution of only 320 px ×200 px with only 4,096 colors. The once popular VGA “photo quality” standard that endured from 1987 to the 1990s was 640 px ×480 px. And most grayscale Kindle tablets offer a 6-inch display with 600 px × 800 px screen resolution.

So, in effect, the 2¼-inch screen was generally 50 percent the capability of the VGA standard, 13 percent more pixelations than the C= home computer, and 16% fewer pixelations than the stock Kindle.

A big number of these older, smaller-screened units still exist, further retained to perpetual production. Their applications can be numerous. But still, if it can access the Internet, then WML may be in demand.

Augmenting Wi-fi to Anywhere, USA

In 1985, the FCC went with the decision to open up a certain number of bands of frequency ranges known today as Wi-fi, with express intention that no government permit would be necessary with which to use them.

Modern specifications generally involve one of three basic concepts in long-range reciprocal radio-signal transit: Wi-fi, WiMAX and LTE. Each of these long-range standards can communicate with a WAP-enabled WML-browser-capable device.

Wi-fi offers long-range in the form of about a maximum 230:820 feet potential proposition (INDOORS:OUTDOORS), well in excess of the infrared short-range technology used to hook up any standard wireless mouse or keyboard.
WiMAX offers substantial improvement over Wi-fi and offers a mutually exclusive 1 km – 30 km optional range of data exchange comparable to that of any DSL connection.
LTE indicates a “4G” data exchange system (4G — a “meaningless” designation, according to PC Mag) that wags enough punch to reciprocate at a full 5 km with a DL75:UL25 Mbps data reciprocity potential.
WML exchanges over networks such as these with key aid from WAP protocol.

How the WAP Forum and OMAI convened standard WML

During the mid-1990s, wireless technologies were altogether new and rare for their specific use with Internet. The WAP protocol (Wireless Application Protocol Architecture Specification) was engineered sometime in 1997, and allowed typical mobile communication devices to exchange data successfully on terms of 150 px ×150 px screens and 14.4 bps data flow rate. These limitations determined unique needs of WAP Web browsers, which were loathe to render HTML or its like markup.

Companies Ericsson, Nokia and Unwired Planet had already implemented smaller scale markup procedures for their own independent, dedicated business interests. These companies became part of the WAP Forum and the Open Mobile Architecture Initiative.

In 2002, the Open Mobile Alliance was formed by combining both endeavors together with yet uncombined standards contributed by their joiners to produce WAP for data exchange and WML for document-oriented interaction common to any Web browser.

WML in definition

A thorough acquaintance with WML recognizes certain need of a WAP network and requisite WAP-enabled, Internet-capable device, from what need for the document markup language actually begins. Of course, PC Web browsers such as Opera can read WML, while others such as Firefox require special add-ons or extensions.

With the purpose of WML firmly established, a good guess would be that it serves the same purpose as HTML — a language that WML can’t be, because the HTML standard was designed with larger screens in mind.

Since changing HTML to conform to need for narrower and smaller screens of PCs and laptops would had set back the HTML standard in ongoing development, WML was much more practical to implement even moreso because it already existed in the form of OMA companies’ proprietary forms of markup.

TTML, HDML, ITP and NDS had formerly been in competition until OMA was formed toward cementing a cooperative standard into place, thereby yielding the new WML — based on XML. Being an XML specification, WML therefore has come to fall under the W3C standard altogether with HTML.

WML mirrors HTML in many ways but inherits the stricter protocol and form of XML. New guidelines supply awareness of how to optimize small screens to meet consumer need while integrating any needful things such as advertising and promotion that serve needs of merchants and their unseen legions of marketeers.

Markup distinguishments

With WML, all browser power goes toward a single scope. There are no multiple windows, no multi-tab scenarios as with HTML. A document dissects into decks, the general document proper, that consist of pages, the various portions of its length that fit on the screen. Support for text as well as graphics name its limit. And of course, links also make up any typical deck of pages, as well as the power to transact forms input and other units of information.

The deck can tell the browser what to expect of the entire document, to some extent, so as to provide for optimal use of hardware despite limited hardware resources.

Like XML, WML also operates under letter case-sensitivity. It begins the vast majority of its tags with need to end them, and the exceptions employ the conventional in-tag ending for their iteration, as with

The language also offers WMLScript, comparable to HTML’s Javascript.

Frames, too, are actually supported — but in a seamless manner.

So, essentially, WML serves as the document formatting language of WAP-enabled machines which bear certain profiles of having small screens of lower-than-standard screen pixel widths and heights. And in general, WML were used almost exclusively on these machines, sometimes in combination with WMLScript, although some PC Web browsers may also support the language. Neither were WML a difficult language to learn, especially for coders already familiar with the XML specification. HTML coders, on the other hand, would probably be more “lost” if expecting to play fast and loose with writing WML code, although familiarity with JavaScript could be useful when coding WMLScript. In sum, WML provides what smaller screens nonstandard to HTML require for transacting compatible pages of decks via Internet WAP-type connections.

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