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W3C releases best practices for mobile web apps

World Wide Web consortium offers developers suggestions for making web-based mobile apps

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In an effort to make mobile applications easier to use, the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) has established a set of guidelines for developers to keep in mind when creating their web-standards based applications.

Minimise network traffic, keep user needs in mind, optimise response times and keep the apps flexible, the guidance document advises programmers, offering specific tips of how to accomplish all of these tasks using HTML5, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), Javascript and other web standards.

The W3C also posted a set of smartphone-size,easy-to-print virtual cards that summarise the suggestions.

The guidelines, which were edited by engineers from AT&T and Google, have been endorsed by the W3C's Mobile Web Best Practices (MWBP) Working Group, which includes participants from AT&T, Boeing, the China Electronics Standardization Institute, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia and Vodafone, among others.

Many of the suggestions should make apps easier to use. For instance, any time a phone number is embedded in an app, it should include an easy link to automatically dial that number. Log-ins should be automatically enabled. Apps should present the same look and feel across different handsets and operating systems.

Other suggestions could minimise the use of the carrier's network. For instance, the document advises programmers to use cookies sparingly, to use compression whenever possible, to execute a server side process to remove whitespace between HTML, CSS and other plain-text instructions.

Security and privacy are also kept in mind. Programmers are advised not to have their apps process untrusted JSON (Javascript Object Notation). Users should be notified about what information on the device is being relayed across the network.

IT research firm IDC projects that, by 2014, over 76.9 billion mobile applications will be downloaded, a 60 percent increase from the 10.9 billion downloads expected this year. Overall, the mobile application business is expected to generate US$35 billion in revenue by 2014.



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