Join Joe Marini for an in-depth discussion in this video Reviewing mobile markup languages, part of Learning Mobile Web Design & Development.
In this movie, I'm going to show you a brief history of mobile markup languages as they've evolved over time. Because even though today we are using HTML5 to do most of our mobile markup, there is a chance that during your mobile development you may come across markup that was written in an older language. And I find that it's helpful to have an understanding of how languages have evolved over time, so that you have a better idea of what to expect in the wild when you are developing your pages.
So let's begin way back at the beginning. Back in the 1970s was when we first encountered SGML. SGML was the Structured Generalized Markup Language invented by IBM, which gave rise in the early 1990s to things like HTML, XML, and a language known as Handheld Device Markup Language--that's HDML at the bottom. Now you can be forgiven if you've never heard of HDML before.
It's actually a proprietary language that was invented by a company called Unwired Planet, which eventually became Openwave, and that was a language that they came up with sometime around the early 90s, maybe 92, 93, or so, to mark up web pages for very early web-capable mobile phones. The next iteration in the mid-90s was XHTML, and that was when HTML and XML basically came together, where the HTML tag library was formatted using XML syntax rules.
And that was sometime around the mid 90s, 96, 97, or so. Then we get to the late 90s where we see the rise of languages such as C-HTML, which is Compact HTML. And again, you may be forgiven if you've never heard of that. It's probably more familiar to you as i-mode, and even though it's not really used anymore you'll still see it in some web pages, especially in the Japan market. There is a preponderance of C-HTML on the i-mode phones, which were produced by NTT DOCOMO.
There is also XHTML Basic, which was a factoring of the XHTML language into smaller bits that earlier web phones could more easily handle. And then HDML, eventually the lessons learned there were folded into what became known as WML, or the Wireless Markup Language, which was promoted heavily by Nokia back in the late 90s. And then we get to today. Today we have a language that has been used mostly in the early 2000s up until around maybe the end of the decade called XHTML Mobile Profile, and it's labeled there as XHTML-MP.
That was standardized in 2001 using the lessons learned from things like WML and XHTML Basic and Compact HTML, and it was updated again back in 2008. HTML, of course, went on to become HTML5, portions of which have entered into the Last Call status back here in June of 2011. So let's go ahead and take a closer look at XHTML Mobile Profile and HTML5.
Now prior to the introduction of most of the modern smartphones--and by that I mean things like the iPhone and Android and Opera Mobile and Windows Phone-- XHTML Mobile Profile was the most common markup language for mobile devices. So you would see this on certain Nokia devices and other web-capable phones before the iPhone, so prior to let's call it 2007. The DOCTYPE for XHTML Mobile Profile looks like this. So if you come across this, you'll know that it's a XHTML Mobile Profile web site, and in fact, most modern smartphones--including the phones I just mentioned earlier--will recognize this DOCTYPE and realize that the page is mobile optimized and go into their mobile layout mode.
XHTML Mobile Profile was divided into modules, and this provided a way for mobile developers to move off of WML and it allowed less capable devices to support the most common features. So the modules were things like linking and providing text and filling out forms and so on and so forth. There were certain things in full HTML and full XHTML that did not make into the modules, things like plug-ins, and so on.
So that's how XHTML Mobile Profile came about. However, XHTML Mobile Profile is not the way forward. The way forward in the future is going to be HTML5, especially since the newer phones and devices such as tablets are now able to support HTML5. So for the rest of this course, I'm going to be focusing on HTML5 and not XHTML Mobile Profile.
- Implementing well-defined web standards
- Working with Modernizr and Mobile Boilerplate
- Building a first mobile web page
- Understanding content adaptation strategies
- Designing forms for mobile
- Detecting client capabilities with script
- Using server-side detection with PHP and ASP.NET
- Working with mobile browser capabilities
- Viewing and testing the mobile site on device emulators