19.5.06

XTech - day 3 - part 1


Introduction:

The wireless here really sucks, but last night it was good, so I think that only some areas have signal problems, and the huge number of people with laptops in this zone isn't definitively helping... My plane back to Lisbon - Portugal is today, so I've already checked out from the hotel I was, and I'm wandering here in XTech with my heavy backpack on my back... I've just got a call from my brother: it seems that he's going somewhere (Prague, I think, but I'm not sure), and his flight has scaling here on Amsterdam. He has to board at 19:xx, and my check-in is only around that hour, but I might still get to see him at the airport, since it's quite funny since we don't see each other that much in Portugal, and when I come to another country I get to be with him...

Bringing Web 2.0 to Mobile Devices - Mobile Web Applications

This two presentations were made by Opera folks, about their efforts in bringing Web to mobile devices, namedly mobile phones. It was really cool since they are undoubtly the state of the art in this matter, although they still have lot's of work to do and can never stop - competitors will appear. But when the only non-corporative alternatives to that is minimo (that I don't believe it will work, since it needs a lot of effort to be done, and nowadays it has only one developer), they are in a stable ground to grow. I also liked the end of the last presentation when he talked about things that browsers in general (not only or at all mobile ones) need to do to get better...

Mini Map - A web page visualization method for mobile phones

This presentation is being made by a Nokia guy. Mobile users want to have full web capabilities in their mobile phones. But nowadays mobile browsers sucks: you have a small monitors to present pages created to be seen in big monitors, and the usual approaches are really bad, usabillity sucks, you have to do so much scrolling, images are shrinked... So Nokia created (for their mobile phones only, which sucks) the "Mini Map visualization method". They present a layout near from the original layout, they have zoom capabilities on the whole page or of it's contents (being the first something similar to zooming in an image, and the second like pressing CTRL++), and text columns can be scaled to the size of the screen. To easy on the scroll issue, they have "port view", that works like a screenshot to do the scrolling. This gives user orientation on the page. You can disable minimap at any time and have a full-screen view... The usual "Back" and "Forward" functions in web browsers (as has been discussed lot's of times in usability studies) aren't really good, and they tried to fix that using the minimap to show you snapshots of where you were, so you can browse though your history. One thing that sucks on the web world is that nowadays everyone makes pages thinking that you have a mouse, and if that was getting almost true, now it's getting more and more false, since there are so many cellphones with browsers out there, and mobile phones don't have mouses, so they just decided to put the five-way joystick in phones to act like a mouse...

They needed a browser engine, and to choose it they wanted an open source engine with web site compatibility, with a understandable design and that would run on S60 (Symbian) platform. They had three possibilities: write a new engine, license a 3rd-party, or choose an open source engine like Gecko, KHTML... but they wanted something with small RAM/ROM footprint and a good performance, so they chose WebCore (part of Safari, based on KHTML).

They are sharing their code into the Open Source community, and trying to merge S60's branch to Apple's WebCore, but Mini Map isn't itself Open Source. Or, in other words, they're contributing to the Open Source world, but only in the cases that they can directly profit with it...