Re: [Wired] HDML, Take Two.

Mark Baker (
Tue, 12 May 1998 00:32:50 -0400

At 01:55 PM 11/5/98 -0700, I Find Karma wrote:
>Rohit, your homework is to put WAP in the context of *TP.


WAP might look like decent technology, using all the right buzzwords;
proxy, filter, etc.. But it exists - and was designed - for all the wrong
reasons. Do you really think UP stumbled upon something interesting while
looking for a way to tie their users to a non-Internet platform?

>> The wireless worker gets a browser on his mobile phone.

Good idea!

>Out in the
>> field -- or trapped in traffic -- he sits happily linking through (very)
>> slimmed-down Web pages on a tiny screen in his productive palm. Marking
>> up the "pages" would be HTML's thinner cousin, HDML, the handheld device
>> markup language. HDML would use the model of the World Wide Web and its
>> protocols but in a more efficient language, suited to the limited size,
>> memory, and processing power of the wireless world. HDML's author and
>> biggest promoter, Unwired Planet, submitted the language to the World
>> Wide Web Consortium in hopes of making it a standard.

Yeah, and now HDML is WML. Wow.

You want small? How about a full HTML 3.2 compliant browser in 260K of
Java bytecodes, and 400K RAM with an average complexity page rendered?

>> Ben Linder, vice president of marketing for Unwired Planet, said that
>> now WAP has been refocused to meet the standards of the cell phone
>> universe, rather than that of the Web.

Uh oh.

>> HDML reappears in a new wireless markup language inside the WAP
>> protocol, where it is accompanied by a script language, wireless
>> telephony application interface, and various other languages and
>> protocols for transactions, security, and messaging.

And not a TCP/IP stack in sight. Anybody wanna bet money on that horse?

>> Because two things are different from a year ago, according to Linder.
>> First, the number of cell phone makers with plans to add the necessary
>> LCD screens to standard, affordable cell phones (sub-US$200) is growing
>> -- "even Motorola is getting screens on their phones now where for years
>> they hadn't," he said. Second, manufacturers have a financial,
>> cost-saving incentive to pack browsing technology into their phones.

And you need WAP in place of current IETF/W3C standards *why* exactly?

>> "What's important is what carriers can do with these browsers for
>> their own internal functions," Linder said. A primary example is
>> "electronic customer care." Rather than customers relying on expensive
>> personnel to get billing information from their provider, companies can
>> save costs by making such information cell-phone browsable. "Typically
>> you have to dial 611 and ask an operator. That's a very expensive
>> proposition for the carrier," he added.

Uh huh. So rather than give full unfettered access to the Internet, we'll
charge you a subscription fee to get access to our filters that will
convert that nasty bloated HTML into wonderful, light, WML! Yeah!

>> Thus WAP is more attractive to providers, and orders for WAP-enabled
>> cell phones are expected to grow. "Email and content will be riding on
>> top of these," Linder said.

They ride just fine on HTTP. Thanks for caring.

>> Andrew Seybold, editor of the Outlook, a monthly newsletter focused on
>> the mobile computing and communication industry, doesn't question the
>> allure such cost-saving functions will have for cellular providers.
>> He still thinks, however, that the underlying question that stunted
>> HDML still undermines WAP.
>> "The question is, are you going to use a 3-line-by-16-character phone

Oooh, get with times Andrew.

>> "There's this uncharted water that says John Q. User wants a device
>> giving him access to everything all in one device." The success of
>> Internet-enabled cell phones depends on that scenario, he says. But
>> Seybold thinks it may be that people end up preferring a variety of
>> devices for different purposes: a cell phone for voice, a PalmPilot for
>> personal data, a computer device for information access, and so on.

Maybe. But let's see how they like the all-in-one idea first.

>> The indications of WAP's success will not be quick in coming. "I think
>> it's going to be a year or more. You've got to get a product out there,
>> get the Internet sites up."

And in the mean time, get squashed by those actually delivering a working
IP based product. Thanks for playing.

>> Which brings up what may be yet another strike against WAP: the need
>> to develop compatible content and services. Since it's an entirely
>> different protocol from those serving the Web, site content would have
>> to be reformatted in WAP's wireless markup language in order for users
>> to access it with a cell phone. Starting a content base from scratch,
>> when most such services think only in HTML, is a formidable challenge.

Give the man a cigar.

>> But it's just a matter of evolution, argues Linder, who disagrees with
>> the notion that WAP signals the failure, or at least the overreaching of
>> HDML. "I don't think it over-reached. I just think we happened to have
>> found additional applications for the technology ... It's just an
>> evolution to solving a slightly different problem."

Yeah, it's slight alright.

>> The signs of success will show by year's end in Linder's estimation.
>> He expects US cellular carriers to begin delivering phones with built-in
>> browsers within six to twelve months.

That's about the right timeframe, but they won't be delivering WAP.


Mark Baker.               CTO, Beduin Communications Corp
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA