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Wireless Access Protocol

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The WAP Forum, formed in 1997, was a standards body dedicated to helping bring web - like access to simple handsets across low - bandwidth mobile networks (such as GSM and GPRS). The WAP standards that were produced, first as a reference v1.0 in 1998, and then as a deployable v1.1 in 1999, defined a whole stack of protocols to help deliver content efficiently across these networks.

Central to the WAP architecture was the role of the WAP gateway, which, like the UP.Link gateway, was responsible for taking content available on web servers hosted on the Internet and essentially compiling it into an efficient bytecode format that the browsers on the handset could efficiently handle and render. Because of this compilation process, content could not be written in arbitrary HTML; it had to be created in strict, well - formed WML — Wireless Markup Language.

WML was an XML - based language and was similar to HDML in that it relied on a card - based paradigm (as shown previously) and shared very few tags with HTML. Web developers who wanted to create sites for WAP handsets needed to craft entirely different markup and interfaces, even when the underlying content was shared with the regular web version of the site. (And unfortunately, the intolerance of many WAP gateways meant that web developers had to emit absolutely perfect XML syntax or risk cryptic errors on their users ’ screens.)

The earliest WAP devices included the iconic Nokia 7110 and the Ericsson R320, both released in 1999 and providing monochromatic access to simple WAP content. Both adhered well to the specifications, supporting simple images in cards, for example, and many pioneering developers
created sites for the devices. Nevertheless, the early hyperbole surrounding the potential of WAP
failed to meet user ’ s expectations: They were unable to “ surf the Internet ” on their mobile devices as they expected, finding that only those few sites that had crafted WML - based versions rendered on their screens.

Further, the increasing numbers of devices that shipped with WAP browsers over the following years brought a huge problem of diversity for site owners. Each browser could interpret certain sections of the WAP specifications differently, and the inconsistencies between implementations were frustrating for a web community that at the time was used to the ease of developing for a single web browser on the desktop environment.

For these, and many other reasons, WAP failed to gain the momentum that had been expected,
and it did not become the worldwide mobile web platform that many had hoped for. Network carriers, worried both about the unreliability of mobile sites on the Internet as a whole and keen to monetize data usage across their networks, often blocked mobile users from accessing arbitrary web addresses from their phones, preferring “ walled gardens ” of content from preferred partners, which often ended up as little more than directories of ringtones, desktop backgrounds, games, and other downloads.

WML underwent a number of revisions before the WAP Forum (which became part of a larger standards body, the Open Mobile Alliance) specified that WAP v2.0 should use a mobile subset of XHTML as its markup language. With that came the end of web developers ’ need to develop pages in an entirely unfamiliar markup and the start of a standards convergence between the modern desktop web (which was gradually, although not universally, adopting XHTML) and the mobile web of the future.

Source of Information : Wiley - Professional Mobile Web Development with WordPress Joomla and Drupal

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