Monday, February 27, 2012

The Community is pushing the Mobile Web Platform

At @WalmartLabs, our focus is to develop technologies that provide an innovative shopping experience to millions of users around the world. Our customers spend their time on a variety of platforms of their choosing, so we aim to be where they are. One of the key platforms is the Web, and much effort has been spent over the last few years to ensure that users visit Web sites via rich Web runtimes. The mobile Web used to be about feature phones getting minimal content, but that world has changed quickly over the last few years and the mobile device in your hand has an amazing engine that has the power to do as much as your desktop computer.

There have been a number of efforts to standardize features for the mobile Web, but none of them have taken off. Partly, this is due to the fast evolution and change from the world of WAP to the world of HTML5 on the phone. Today, it has reached a point of critical mass where people are looking to push development of the mobile Web platform. This push won't happen with only certain perspectives, and needs broad participation across the industry.

We have been talking to Facebook about the issues surrounding the mobile Web for quite some time, and I am very excited to have @WalmartLabs be a part of a new community effort, the forming of W3C Core Mobile Web Platform Community Group whose goals are clear:

Accelerate the adoption of the Mobile Web as a compelling platform for the development of modern mobile Web applications.

The Community Group will bring developers, equipment manufacturers, browser vendors, operators and other relevant members of the industry together to agree on core features developers can depend on; create related conformance test suites; and provide to W3C (and non-W3C) groups use cases, scenarios, and other input to enable successful mobile Web app development.

A critical topic to address is for most important specs to be supported across a wide range of browsers. But, support is only half the battle. The quality and performance of a feature is crucial as well. This is why we are looking forward to seeing rich test suites that go into that side of things too.

We love the Web, but users -- and thus developers -- demand that the platform evolves faster than it has to date. As we push the boundaries of the mobile Web at @WalmartLabs, we look forward to the opportunity to discuss the needs of users and developers as we work with community members to make the Web a better place.

Join us!