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WAP Under Fire 126

Recently WAP [?] has come under serious criticism from a wide variety of places... Angus wrote a short piece saying that it'll be replaced. IcesTorm-I sent us an message on an IETF mailing list criticizing the format, and to suggesting that we use open formats like LEAP instead. Even Microsoft rejects the standard. Slashdot has supported WAP (well, kinda anyway) since I got bored a few months ago and slapped it together, and I'd tend to agree that its a crappy standard, but more due to the limitations of the devices that use it. (note: if anyone has a PDA format they're dying for on Slashdot, Send diffs -- not requests! We're working on some PDA formats, but there are only so many hours in the day, and we don't have devices that can do most of the formats users email me asking for). [Updated 7 July 18:25 GMT by timothy] Readers may also be interested in a WAP report prepared by Rohit Khare for 4K Associates, which is probably the most incisive (and one of the most critical) analyses on the topic to be had anywhere.
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WAP Under Fire

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  • We run a small Dev. hut, and we have just recently ventured into WAP. I must say, WAP sucks.

    WMLscript is so bad that when we were developing a few simple card games, we got so frustrated, that we scrapped our script, and wrote a Java Servelet to gennerate all the WML content on the fly. With the expectations consumers now have of us developers, it is going to be VERY difficult to keep wireless users happy untill something is done about this standard.

    What really excites us, is non-WAP relient devices, such as RIM [] These things are very compact, not super powerfull, but impressive enough.

    Unfortunatly, we are about to enter what might be one of the biggest quarters that wireless has ever seen, which will do a good job of poluting the environment with Legacy Phone, dependant on the WAP standard for access to the Web.

    WAP may suck, but it is going to be around for a while.

  • What I find most boring with WAP is that cellular phone companies claims that "WAP will allow customers to access the Internet". But I'm really afraid that only companies may find interest in adding some WAP contents on their site, which means WAP users will mostly be able just to surf commercial sites.

    Of course, phone screens are limited in size, and only a few people would enjoy the "hi-I'm-Joe-this-is-my-first-webpage-look-the-fanc y-animated-gif-and-my-very-k3wl-@aol-ema il-address", but designing a so-called 'standard' which avoid the masses to publish on the media, and, furthermore, calling this "the Internet", is, IMHO, a mistake. This is roughly the same as when Microsoft modifies its Java implementation. No wonder the IETF is critizing the standard.

  • WAP is a Wireless protocol, as is, for example, GSM. You could say that GSM is a bad protocol as it carries a lot of cellular baggage, but that wouldn't make a whole lot of sense. And, as somebody already pointed out, WAP is a transition-period protocol, not a final solution to wireless presentation and transfer of Web content.

    As to the slow uptake, during the April to June period BT Cellnet sold 175,000 new WAP phones in the UK (out of a total 670,000). Full story here [].

  • I never thought WAP was going to last anyway,the question turns into: Which is the one mobile communication protocol that will become popular and remain useful. (let's just hope it'll become a good one - unlike vhs for example) Hope ya'll choose the right one - it'll help your careers. Rolf []
  • I mean geez, in todays wired world, you are literally no more than 5 minutes from a computer anyway.
    Well, some people might not like it when I burst into their house at 3 AM to check my email ;-)

    Actual uses for somehing like WAP might include, besides the "check my email" stuff, such functions as on-line "Yellow Pages" (click the phonenumber to dial), road condition reports, the normal ticker-tape stock market and sports scores, other real-time statusing of things such as movie listings and waiting times for popular attractions, road maps.

    And of course p0rn, the driving force behind the adoptation of many new technologies.

  • I thinks WAP really sucks ... you can't do anything interesting/usefull with it. Just compare a WAP phone with a PalmVII ... the display is to small the user interface is really userunfriendly and so on ...
  • by cshotton ( 46965 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @06:09AM (#951935) Homepage
    One of the problems here is that people are confusing WAP, WML, and HDML. 99% of the time, people say "WAP" when what they really mean is "HDML" or "WML".

    WAP is the protocol equivalent to HTTP. WML and HDML are the equivalent of HTML. When most people say their Web sites are "WAP compatible", what they mean to say is that they serve up "WML or HDML formatted content."

    For instance, does Slashdot REALLY run a WAP server/gateway, or do they just have some of their content in HDML (or WML) format, a la the RSS version?

    Most content providers could care less about (and don't need to care about) WAP. It's not their problem. The cell phone manufacturers and the PCS service providers are the only people that have to care because they have the only devices that need to talk "WAP". Everything else is just gatewayed HTTP requests for WML or HDML content.

    So what is it that people are really complaining about? WAP or WML?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have programmed WAP phones for about 8 months now and I can tell you it is one of the most ridiculously painful and useless things I have ever seen. WAP is a standard designed and made for closed, commercial bodies, troubled with patent issues, and most of all, created for old technolgies that will soon find their way into distant memory. Look at the Japanese market, where users are already on color screen cell phones. With broadband wireless and high quality displays in the pipe, WAP is already DOA. Those companies who have made and are making a significant investment in WAP in the US will soon find themselves with a very expensive mistake on their hands as technology quickly surpasses them. The 'wireless revolution' isn't really one at all, and all those startups hoping to make a killing on the wireless web in the same way companies like Amazon did on the Internet are going to find themselves down and out Real Soon Now.
  • Well, some people might not like it when I burst into their house at 3 AM to check my email ;-)

    Really? I wondered why i keep hearing sirens just after i've finished checking my email.

  • the GNU Number of Unrelated Utilities
    the GNU Number of Unpronounceable Utilities

    reply whore :)
  • GNU is already an idiotic acronym that stands for GNU is Not Unix. Example: "I gnu that would piss you off". Besides, Gary Gnu was a demented childhood nightmare for many of us. I cringe every time I hear it (though reading it is fine) I think GPL is a better acronym, just in the way it sounds, and has the added benefit of containing a nested recursive acronym, as opposed to simply a recursive acronym.

    Meanwhile, here is a list of replacement GNU definitions to start everyone off:

    Giant Nerd Unit
    Grasp Not Understanding (glasshoppah)
    Good N Ugly
    Gonna Need Undies
    Get New Uniforms(!)
    Geeks Need Universities
    Gandalf is Not Ungoliant
    Giant Needless Undertaking
    Got No Users
    Going Noodle Up
    Getting Nothing Unique
    Girls Not Understood
    Greasy, Nasty Unguent
    Good News Undelivered
    Group Needs Umpire
    Get your Neices' Umbilical-cord
    Gates is Not Ubermensch
    Gates Needs Underlings
    Glorious New U-turn
    Gamma Necto Umbrus!
  • "If your software doesn't recognize the limitations of your hardware, your software is useless"
    But Wait!

    That never stopped Microsoft!

  • Now of course the concept might be flawed (ie "nobody wants to surf on a 100x80 pixel screen with no keyboard or pointing device"), but that has nothing to do with WAP itself.

    This is the fundamental problem. I have a cell phone, but I don't use it for the internet at all. The screen is way too small for me to do anything useful other than read email. Even for reading email it is pretty bad. And what about responding to email? I am not even going to touch that one. Plus, I am never that far away from a desktop computer, unless I am driving or on vacation (in which case I wouldn't bother in the first place).

    This is where a webpad (like the Fic Aqua) device could become useful. Since it already has some type of wireless connection, adding cell phone capabilities would not be difficult. It already has a reasonable screen size for the internet. There is the problem of cell phone conversations not being private, but that seems like a better problem to solve than getting the internet through a cell phone screen. (Also, it should reduce the possiblity of getting tumors from cell phones.)

  • *clears throat*


    okay, even i'll admit that was pretty lame. but hey, it's a slow workday, and i'm bored.

  • It also causes measurable and documented damage to the brain, via serotinin 'burn out'
  • I find it very interesting to see all these Americans who don't get mobile technology.

    Not only is wireless net access using mobile devices a very good idea, it has taken off in a big way in Japan (although not, in fact, using WAP, but another mechanism).

    Given that SMS has also taken off, there seems to be a very strong demand for delivery of salient text onto a small mobile device. I see no reason at this level why WAP (or similar) won't be successful.
  • parsing of HTML is wrong way. If you need to present information in different forms you should provide it in XML and supply different style sheets for different browsers.
  • The advertisers are not helping the situation by suggesting that phones are 'internet' or 'wap' "capable". It may be a good marketing ploy to sell phones, and to see high end models, but in my experience, people feel a bit cheesed off with the results are disappointing - that's not doing much to inspire confidence in the industry and the technology.

  • Otherwise, I've heard both the acronyms "World Appreciation Program" (people involved in the WAP Forum get to travel a LOT), "Where Are the Phones?", and "Warm Air Project".
  • Argh! Stop!

    The real reason for US Companies and organisations to bash WAP is: its not American tech - its European!
  • I agree. I believe /. should post an immediate retraction of the comment. The document in question is from the Free Protocols Foundation . [note: this URL appears to be temporary unavailable... I wonder why :-]
  • > calling this "the Internet", is, IMHO, a mistake.

    Is ftp not the internet then because you can't check your mail?

    This is an absurd point of view: WML devices don't provide a full range of IP services, but then neither does a mail client (well, maybe outlook does now...). It's a service that runs (partly) over P. That sounds like the (capital letter) Internet to me...
  • plain old text ate the URL: []
  • First and foremost, it is no surprise that IETF fires at WAP and the WAP Forum. The WAP Forum works in an entirely different manner than does the IETF, and is driven by industry groups focused on making money, rather than creating long-term viable technical solutions as is the IETF. As such, the IETF -- having a completely different perspective -- should be horrified by such a rogue body, especially now that the WAP Forum actually has success in getting implementations. And they are. When you talk to IETF guys, they have historically always opposed WAP; this is no news.

    Second, Microsoft doesn't reject the standard. Quite to the contrary. Microsoft implements WAP in almost all wireless devices, notably Mobile Explorer which goes into mobile phones -- I don't know why the Pocket Internet Explorer is an exception (or even what it is). Microsoft guys took part in designing the end-to-end security coming in WAP 1.3, and Microsoft guys took part in designing the WAP Push standard arriving in WAP 1.2. These are both key standards and Microsoft are working actively within the WAP Forum, having been a member there for over a year.

    Third, WAP is a _lot_ of stuff. Many U.S. folks see WAP as HDML, which is Unwired Planet's (now's) predecessor to WAP's application-level specifications; WAP has specifications on almost all of the ISO layers. When you say "WAP is bad", do you mean WML? WSP? WTP? WBMP? WTA? There are as of now 31 (thirty-one) approved WAP specs, and while a lot of these are under fire for reinventing existing technology, there is actually a few things that are good and novel within. How about tokenization of HTML (in WBXML?) True Push? Accessing telephony functions (such as "place call" functions) from a web page?

    In summary, there seems to be some WAP bashing out there, while WAP phones are shipping in millions. And to those saying it's all bad -- it's not. A lot is reinventing old technology when IETF specs could have done the job. A lot is questionable. But I am certain significant parts of it will survive the initial round -- after all, a LOT of thinking has gone into this, by some of the best experts worldwide on wireless communications.
  • >White Anglo-Saxon Protestant ruling class
    That's WASP not WAP.

    As far as I can tell WAP stands for Witches Against Puritans, and who can blame them? I truly dislike those Puritans, what with their flashy hats, turkey dinners, influenza, and new world order. Argh.

    Devil Ducky
  • is a protocol Microsoft intends to get rich with. :)

    Content means MSN.

  • The main article this is drawn from is based on some appalling errors. Angus needs to check his facts: I hope this isn't a paper for serious academic use as it wouldn't survive peer review.

    A few samples

    "Background - on Monday 26 th June, both BT Cellnet and Vodafone officially launched their GPRS pilot services for corporate users. Vodafone have made a commitment to extending the service to the wider market by Christmas. This is a direct competitor/replacement for the WAP service that the mobile phone companies have been advertising so heavily in recent months."

    Utter nonsense. This is like saying that the Web is dead because more people are using DSL to access it. It hopelessly confuses physical carrier with the protocol: go back and re-read the 7 layer OSI model.

    >(1 st generation was the basic
    digital phone, 2 nd generation is WAP, 3 rd generation is full internet GPRS)

    Wrong. 1st generation is analog[ue], 2nd digital. WAP is sometimes semi-facetiously called 2.5G.

    The sooner people actually read the specs before commenting the better.

    I don't like WAP/WML, but it's here and LEAP isn't. The W3C should have come up with a Wireless mark-up language and the IETF with a robust IP replacement earlier, but they didn't. The W3C was so obsessed with internal bickering over CSS and P3P that it somehow forgot. Perhaps the fact that both organisations are based in the (as far as mobile telephony goes) technological backwater of the USA had something to do with it.
  • > The second article has been misleadingly
    > described. "IcesTorm-I sent us an IETF document
    > criticizing the format". This IS NOT an IETF
    > document, rather a post to an IETF mailing list.
    > The points contained in it about WAP not being a
    > truly open format are valid. The technical
    > arguements are a mixed bag - yes, some of the
    > wheels reinvented by the WAPForum definetly have
    > corners. :-)

    Sure, however there have been a lot of response to this post from various people which are very active in the IETF.

    The main concern from them was that apparently the WAPForum members didn't learn the lessons of the past and again try to invent yet another network protocol which has several flaws (patent issues and the broken encryption stuff, as well as the required "gateway" service between the WAP protocol suite and IP). One contributor even mentioned, that current mobile phones have a larger bandwith than the internet backbone of the early days of TCP/IP!

    -- jochen

  • What's a Palm VII? You certainly can't call phone numbers with it.

  • GeoWorks [] (Yet ANOTHER failing Unisys like company) owns some patent in WAP. licensing/index.html []
    In the early 1990's, Geoworks invented a unique process for designing generic user interfaces for application programs, enabling the same application to run on a broad range of platforms. User interface technology provides the screen environment in many electronic devices such as mobile phones and PDA's. Today you see this technology in the market in such devices as the Nokia Communicator family of smart phones. The Geoworks process was described and patented in U.S. Patent No. 5,327,529, which issued on July 5, 1994. The patent provides Geoworks with rights and legal protection in the United States and Japan through July 5, 2011. A portion of the technology described in the Geoworks patent, which is referred to as the "Flex UI Patent," has been realized in the implementation of the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and the corresponding Wireless Markup Language (WML). The Wireless Application Protocol is the de facto worldwide standard for the presentation and delivery of wireless information and telephony services on mobile phones and other wireless terminals. In May of 1999, in accordance with the charter documents governing WAP Forum members, Geoworks was the first member to notify the WAP Forum that its patented technology rights represented "Essential Intellectual Property Rights" (Essential IPR) realized in the implementation of the WAP Specification. Accordingly, the WAP Forum published the Geoworks declaration of Essential IPR for worldwide circulation in the member's section of its website at Other member companies have similarly notified the WAP Forum of their Essential IPR. The commercial implications of a WAP Forum member company declaring Essential IPR were anticipated during the formation of the WAP Forum and resulted in a recommended protocol whereby the declaring member company would license its technology to other members on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory commercial terms.
  • It amazes me how anything good that MSFT does is
    always explained away by some evil conspiracy.

    Here are some FACTS.
    I recently departed MSFT, while there I
    was one of most active MSFT folks in
    the WAP forum. I am also the chair
    of the WAP E2E security working group.

    MSFT didn't want to join WAP because they
    felt that real Internet, eg TCP/IP was
    the right way to go.
    I personally was involved in these
    discussions and was hesitant to
    join the WAP forum.

    We beleived that since TCP was suitable
    for net users when we all had 9.6 modems,
    it would be fine for mobile, which today
    is 9.6 for GSM and higher for things like

    Eventually, the WAP forum gained critical
    mass and it was a market requirement to join.

    In the forum, our objective was mostly to
    help the forum make progress on its
    self adopted goal of convergence.

    By this, I mean, the move from W*P back
    to Internet TCP, etc.
    Additionally, while its a more difficult
    process moving to a more standard markup
    The point of this is to make WAP devices
    able to interoperate with existing Internet

    This work is continuing in the WAP forum
    as we speak and MSFT, along with other
    vendors are helping to make this a reality.

    As for the control thing, MSFT doesn't control
    many other Internet standards, that isnt a problem.
    While its not necessarily a problem, people
    have complained about the way the WAP forum's
    IPR policies are structured. Its not a completely
    open forum like the IETF and the founders
    of the forum retain IPR over much of the
    WAP technology.

    This can be a problem for some because it
    means if you wish to create products
    that use WAP technology, such as a handset
    or gateway, you must license, usually for $$
    the intellectual property from various
    parties in the WAP forum.

    Many have seen the GeoWorks issue in the press,
    and that was, I think, an unintended result
    of that IPR policy.

    Even though I no longer work for MSFT,
    I honestly beleive that in this case
    we acted in the best interests of the
    community, not just those of MSFT.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    When was the last time Rob went on vacation?

    I don't know if he has access to much of his new found wealth yet, but he has been sounding a little cranky the last few days.

    Please Rob, if you are going to put criticism of customers in your posts, make sure you run it by one of the other editors to see how it reads.

    Now that SlashDot is a financial success, there is a limit to how much whining people will put up with. The same goes for duplicate posting of stories, or rejecting submissions only to have them posted when submitted by someone else a few days later.

  • Someone please help me understand what all the fuss is all about? I want to jump on the bandwagon as well :-)

    No, no. You want to jump OFF the bandwagon.

  • by Ratface ( 21117 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @05:51AM (#951962) Homepage Journal
    The most common criticisms I tend to hear about wap are of the "Who wants to use the Interent with 4 lines of text" variety. Very few people know what they are actually criticising when it comes to the questions of
    * What is WAP intended to do
    * How does it differ from HTML and
    * How will it improve in the future.

    In my view, WAP is pretty well designed, but it's still early days yet. At it's simplest level, WAP is designed to be a method of presenting content to mobile devices, using the Internet as a carrier medium (my viewpoint). It differs from HTML in that it is a highly slimmed-down markup language, based on XML and including support for various phone functions, such as clicking a link to dial a phone number.

    The more interesting part is perhaps where it will go in the future. Many people point out that it won't take too much extra computing power before your PDA can present HTML as well as a desktop browser. This is all well and good, but it doesn't take into account the extra funtions that are planned for WAP such as location based services, phone functionality etc. These are things that have no place in HTML, so a separate language of some sort is probably the best way to go.

    Personally, I'm investing quite a lot of personal time in WAP with my wap search engine at [] and a wap developers mailing list [] (hop onboard if you are interested in discussing WAP development with other developers). I am not scared though to imagine that it will be replaced in the future with another standard.

    However it's gonna take a bit for me to hop off the WAP bandwagon. I need to see handsets that support any replacing standard and I need to see a widespread buzz that will attract developers and investors.

    Whatever the case, WAP is certainly helping bridge the gap between the stationary net and the mobile applications of the future - and that is what's so damn exciting about WAP.

    "Give the anarchist a cigarette"
  • WOP:

    With Out Papers

    not naturalized

  • I work for a company that's in bed with several telcos and am more or less forced to know WAP by heart. A few points:
    • WAP does not "provide an IP layer" because WAP is
    • designed to be carried by, among other things, UDP/IP.
    • Micro$oft never understood WAP. Remember MSNet?? They did the same thing to WAP. Until the aquisition of some small Swedish company they were dead against WAP and wanted to use their in-house protocol suite (built by one of the people behind the Halloween papers) instead.
    • WAP, or more accurately WML, will be unified with HTML in an unholy XML alliance. The WAP-WML charter of the WAP Forum are working with the IETF on this.
    • Saying that WAP only offers "one application" means admitting to not reading any Forum documents or even executive summaries (sorry, that was uncalled for). No, you can't finger a phone or ftp to it, but you get web content and e-mail. Pushed, if desired. Put that in a two-way pipe and smoke it ;)
    • WAP means "Where Are the Phones", everyone knows that ;)
    The industry has put so much prestige, time, money and manpower into WAP that we'll be seeing it for at least five years. With WTA underway and new carriers being added (give me GPRS or give me death!) the telcos are bound to be able to create enough attention to keep WAP alive.
  • by DaveHowe ( 51510 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @05:51AM (#951965)
    Ok, lets face facts here.
    LEAP has some major advantages over WAP. It's faster, it isn't encumbered with expensive patented stuff, and its endorsed by the Internet Standards community. however, it is not here.

    LEAP does not even have a foothold in the market; it is still on the drawing board. In contrast, the major Mobile Phone manufacturers like Nokia are directly benefitting from their membership of the WAP consortium; most mobile phone networks now support WAP servers directly licenced from that consortium at extortionate rates, have farmed out WAP-enabled handsets to their customers, and are now supporting the service. How do we get the manufacturers that are *directly* benefitting from WAP to support LEAP? how do we get the networks to set up and support LEAP when they are already set up for and supporting WAP?

  • Another example is that you can set up your program to call you on your WAP phone when your stock price is at a certain level and prompt you to buy/sell.

    You can use SMS (short messaging service) for that. There are plenty of SMS gateways on the net and most modern cell phones support SMS. In the UK, anyway.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction

  • I've only had a short look to WAP, and it didn't looked so bad, except that it is quite different from HTML in the way it works, which means you need to learn everything again when coding WAP application.

    But good or bad, millions of WAP enabled cell phones have been shipped over the world, many companies have a WAP accessible site or are working on it. Lots of Telecom companies (providers and equipement makers) in Europe are building their strategies around WAP services. It is based on XML, which is good - and there's no serious alternative standard to it around. So I can't really see how WAP could fail as a standard.

    Now of course the concept might be flawed (ie "nobody wants to surf on a 100x80 pixel screen with no keyboard or pointing device"), but that has nothing to do with WAP itself.
  • Sorry, couldn't resist

    - Girls, No Underwear!
    - Gross Naked Underbellies
    - X-ray My Leg
    - Come Get It
    - Vile BullShit
    - Only Righteous Guys
    - Her Tits Melt Lead

    Ok I think thats enough, before I get completely out of control.

    That's actually kind of fun. :)
  • by jabber ( 13196 )
    Crude: Gnarly Nads Unbound!
    Economic: Great New Utilitarianism!
    For RMS: Glory Not Unwelcome.

    Sorry.. I'll go back to work now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ok. I'm a reasonably bright guy, but I just can't figure out what the big deal is with XML.

    There's the whole issue of interoperability (for instance, Word and Wordperfect being able to share files easier), but someone still has to write the import filters, just the same as the would with a binary format. Is it the DTD's which make it special for interoperabilty? You can always obfuscate a DTD.

    Near as I can tell, there's no advantage to using XML over simply creating your own file format when it comes down to displaying on different platforms. You still have to do the work to determine the platform dependant way things get displayed.

    Any pointers to a concise treatise on why XML is going to save the internet, build a better cheese, and bring back 'Get Smart' on weekday afternoons?
  • Why? Nobody wrote Enlightenment on their PDP-11. If your software doesn't recognize the limitations of your hardware, your software is useless.

    That may be true. But nobody built a CD-ROM drive for their COCO either, I'd bet. Although the two technologies were coming around at roughly the same time. All I'm trying to say is that yes, there are now some hardware limitations. There is also a significant advance in the hardware coming and in process right now. Don't blow off WAP as not useful because of hardware limits, until we get past a few of those hardware limits (The recent story on printed mobile screens [] is one perfect example.)
  • Okay, this paper is pretty well. But the paper mentioned by Angus is worst. GPRS is no substition of WAP, it is only an addon to GSM, which enables connectionless data transfer, so it is kind enhancement to WAP:-)
  • WAP as a concept makes sense. The problem is the device it is most likely to be used by right now, cell phones. Unfortuneately, the problem with small screen size on cell phones is being interpreted as a problem with WAP. Solve the cell phone screen problem and WAP will be just fine.
  • How about:

    Generates Nothing Useful
    Generally Never Usable
    Got No Understanding

    You just need to try ;)

  • The nice folks at google run a HTML->WML gateway, enabling any WAP device to access all HTML pages out there. Just try something like tml
  • It's like this.

    In the US, mobiles are still seen as luxury items. Everyone who has one not only has a PC in the office, but one or more at home.

    Everywhere else in the world that just isn't the case. People from all income brackets in the UK have mobiles. People who can't afford a PC and certainly don't work with them. Over 50% ov people in the UK have a mobile, far more than have a PC and for all I know more than have _access_ to a PC.

    So, they stand to become the most ubiquitous net access device. This makes them very important. Given the recent 'texting' post, SMS is apparently unknown in the US still. As pointed out in the discussion on 'texting' it is a very useful technology, and shows that there is demand for asynch. communication on mobiles.

    WAP is simply a sophisticated form of SMS as far as most end users are concerned. It means white van man (not translatable outside UK :_) can see the menu when he dials out for a pizza, can get the football scores of other games while he's at one (without having to sellotape a radio to his ear), and so on.

    This whole thing really demonstrates the US's complete misunderstanding of the whole mobile comms thing. It makes me laugh.
  • or more specifically the game house who was called Origin and put out Ultima IX
  • by cfish ( 61161 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @06:23AM (#951978)
    I have studied on WAP at work for a month. Here's what I find:

    Dispise the fact that WAP protocol has a lot of problems others listed, telco have no time to wait to push the products into the market. It's the next piece of pie to fight for.

    A WAP phone is not used like your netscape on a PC. But it is useful for circumstances where you don't have a PC or a palm with you. For instance, if you have a WAP enabled wrist watch, you can set it to alert you when something important happens. The one I'm working on is the fileangel project at which will let you choose to be contacted when something happens to your file via a WAP device. Another example is that you can set up your program to call you on your WAP phone when your stock price is at a certain level and prompt you to buy/sell. It can prompt you to read an email when a certain important email is recieved. These things are related to real-time communication applications. I feel that it is quite useful.

    As of whether WAP is a temporary technology, it depends. Sure, displays are getting better, CPUs are getting smaller and less power consuming, but things are shrinking at the same rate. For example, maybe one day we will be able to carry a watch, or a pen, which acts as a phone, pager, emailer, voice recognizer, digital camera, scanner, GPS and mp3 player ALL at once.

    Or maybe one day we will stick this wearable screen on top of one eye and get all of the previoes example's features, plus a full-size, see-thru screen. (How ever playing movies out of our penny sized CD storage?)

    The point is, there is no end to our need for smaller, more powerful devices. There is a chance that WAP may survive.
  • That's what I'm wondering too.

    Even if GPRS replaces WAP (the LEAP pages appear to be slashdotted, so I can't comment there), you still need WML or something like it to do presentation to a 16x12 character screen.

    (And no, you can't just convert the HTML in a gateway... you've got to make sure the important stuff appears first, got to reformat tables, etc.) I've been playing with WML for a couple of weeks and yes, it is a pain in the ass. But's it's more because of trying to rearrange stuff to be somewhat usable on such a tiny screen than the markup language itself.

  • The best use I have for internet on my phone is to use it to look up phone numbers. Do a search, click on the link and it dials the number for you. This beats carrying around a hefty "Yellow pages" and "White Pages" for a surrounding population of about 5 million.

    Also great for checking stock quotes and other small pieces of information (e.g. traffic conditions). Larger pieces of information (i.e. email, or /.) needs a bigger screen so I attached it to my PalmPilot.

  • WAP is a Wireless protocol, as is, for example, GSM.

    Not exactly. WAP is a wireless protocol but it is designed to run on top of another, "carrier" protocol (like HTTP, that runs on top of TCP/IP, another, lower level, protocol). The good think about WAP is that it is designed to be able to use different other protocols as carriers. It can be used over GSM, SMS, GPRS and in the future UMTS or -presumambly- other carrier protocols. I have to say that I was impressed with the article mentioned in the story text as the writer believes WAP is competing with GPRS. Clearly that's not the case as WAP can run over GPRS. GSM is competing with GPRS.

  • Good protocols aren't designed to "only last a few years". In part because when the technical limitations they work around are obsolete, the corresponding limitations of the obsolete standard hang around like an albatross.
  • Just try something like tml

    And by the time you type that out on your cell phone, I'll have found me a real computer to view the page with.

  • If I want a particular PDA format to be supported, I'd expect the people who are paid to run the site to code for it, not me.

    Rob just can't win, can he? Before, when the code wasn't available, people whined that he was a hypocrite for promoting open source, but not supporting it himself and letting others hack the code. Now that the code is finally open, and he points out that anyone can provide code, people whine because he should write the code all by himself. He should just quit releasing his changes to the source again. leaches...

  • Sigh. Yes, but they still use WAP as the underlying protocol.

    Please go and read the specs at before attempting to contribute.
  • The article titles suggest that Microsoft has completely rejected WAP, something that is certainly possible, but unlikely since, as far as I know, they're still working with Ericsson here in Lund with some project. What it is, I don't know. Maybe they decided to drop it now. It is not my main point.

    My main point is that, while WAP might seem like a good idea, early tests (like a few weeks ago, so they're not done a long time ago, but in the early stages of WAPs development) 50% of the phones worked with 50% of the WAP-adapted pages. The only realy conclusion you can make from this is that so far they've been very bad at telling web-companies how to make their WAP pages and that the different phones from the different companies do indeed work differently (something I knew would happen, just look at Netscape and Explorer, only difference is that now they'll have 5 different browsers to adapt to).

    To say that WAP will evolve from a fairly primitive current state seems unlikely to me. What will happen is that someone (read Micro$ocks) will create an XML Schema that does everything that WAP does and about 150 million more things (apart from being completely extensible, since it is an XML Schema) which will in time chuck WAP out the window.

    WAP is what we have now and phones will use it for a few years yet and people who like toys will love them. People who dislike mobile phones in general and browsing with a super-small screen in particular, will loathe them. In those years that the emergence of a new XML WAP Schema will appear, all our mobile phones will look like Palm-pilots anyway, and have the same functionality, so they will probably render XHTML and XSL anyway (in color).

    As they say, WAP is too little too late.

    Something like the new Sony 1.2Gb RW CD.

  • I'm not good at predicting market trends. Still, I think that mobile phones won't be bandwith-constrained for long. NTT Docomo, the Japanese mobile phone giant, claims that they're rolling out W-CDMA service in a year or so: rporate/w-cdma/home.html []. The new phones will have better network connection than my home PC does.

    I don't think I'd want to put months of effort into supporting a specialized protocol meant for low-bandwidth networks.

  • Slashdot supports WAP? What's the URL?
  • Leaches [sic] exist due to the efforts or output of others. Rob made millions by letting people write on his web page. And you call them leaches [sic].
  • Glad to hear that the IETF is not responsible for that document. I understand that some people are uncomfortable with WAP from a free protocol point of view, but quite frankly, this document does not seem to understand the realities of the WAP space.

    One of them is that the browser is going to go into the phone, it is going to be fixed in there as firmware, and nobody will be able to just change it. Such is the nature of making a consumer product like mobile phones. That threshhold is already there for academia and small shops, regardless of what 'hurdles' WAPforum's fees seem to bring up. So you can bitch and moan about the 27k to join, but if a potential contributor can't cough up dough or play the patent playing cards, they sure as hell wouldn't be able to add anything to the devices. It's not like you can make a new implementation and distribute it like you can make a new browser or messager on a computer and have people install it - you will have to go through device makers. WAPforum doesn't really add a hurdle to a space that is already closed by its very nature.

    Then there's the little issue of over and over moaning that existing protocols should be used, while claiming that the user experience is going to be significantly different that big-screen browsing. If the authors think the Internet is an unsuitable experience for the devices, why are they so insitent on reusing the technology instead of creating better suited technology? IP numbers on devices. Yeah right. By 2003 there'll be more enhanced computing net-connected mobile phones than there are connected computers. Think IPv6 will be in place then? I don't think so.

  • Remember the WAP game developer contest? Anyone done anything interesting with that yet?

    Seriously, every setup like that has it's limitations, but then again (flashing back to olden times) who would want a GUI? If you can't remember a few simple commands, you don't need to use the computer. Oh yeah, and it takes too much processor! There isn't enough machine for one! Before we ride WAP out on a rail, let's give the hardware a little more chance to take better advantage of it. It really is a nifty little thing.
  • How can someone possibly enjoy the content of the 'net on a screen the size of a Lego square. Yeah, it's great to see that the Red Sox actually one a damn game or that my tech stocks might actually make me some money today. But people who wish for the Snow Crash/ Neuromancer 'net cannot possibly get their wish if everyone is using a rediculous little cell phone to use the 'net.
  • I used to use geoworks on my commie! Long live the C64!!!
  • I believe that all doomed projects are a direct result of sucky acronyms. WAP is no exception. First off, it sounds like the sound a large rubber fish makes when slammed against the wall. Whap! Secondly, it's too open to defacement. Just off the top of my head, I can think of "Wimpy Application Performance" and "What A Putz!"

    Think about more successful acronyms, like GNU. I challenge anyone to think of either a funny new definition _or_ a perverse way of pronouncing it. QED.

  • Of course WAP is under fire. Of course WAP will be placed in the minority, and eventually phased out. WAPs have been running this country ever since it's inception and the time of reckoning is at hand. No longer will the minorities bow down to the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant ruling class!!

    Whaa?? Umm... Nevermind.
  • Face it, until we can mount something on our heads to project virtual screens into our eye balls, for quick info needs on the go, WAP phones are good. I don't want to carry around a Cassiopea Pocket PC just to get some info on the go.

    And what good is it? Well, as an example, I am hacking together some HDML (since my market in this area uses the UP.Browser) for the web site I maintain at []. It's a transit system and I'm doing it mainly for my own benefit, although I hope others can benefit from it.

    Basically, all I want to be able to do is to be able to punch in a bus route number and direction, pick from a list of stops it serves, and find times for the next few buses scheduled to arrive.

    And since DART is looking into deploying nextbus [] technology, it'll will also be able to predict how many real minutes it will before the bus arrives. This kind of stuff is a cool application for a net-enabled phone.

    The problem with WAP (besides the patent crap) is that people are trying to just port existing web sites to it. People don't want to buy books from their damn phone. There are specific applications that are good for it, but most of the existing web content SUCKS for it. For example, who the heck would bother going to [] from a cell phone? A site like that is best experienced in a dark closed room with a large monitor!

    btw, I was surprised when I went to on my motorola 7868W and got a menu of stories. Unfortunately, when going to a story, I got an invalid content-type error... :(

  • Oh yes. I forgot. We don't have VII services around here (yet). Count me clueless.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft doesn't seem to really want to support any standard they're not controlling (although they are apparently on the WAP committee), so this isn't exactly a surprise...I also found it interesting that they're talking about a "rich" experience in the context of a PDA.
  • > white van man (not translatable outside UK :_)

    UPS guy is the closest I figure...

    Oh, and americans may not get mobiles, but thier local calls are free, and they've had (A)DSL for a while now.

    Six of one...
  • Why? Nobody wrote Enlightenment on their PDP-11. If your software doesn't recognize the limitations of your hardware, your software is useless.
  • Thanks a lot - now I understand your point and I agree on this argument. I see the much bigger advantage of GPRS is that your are online all the time. It is like using a normal modem compared to a cable modem, much quicker, always on, no boring waiting until having a connection, which breaks after a while anyway. This is more important in my opinion. 9600 baud is enough for text oriented content on cell phones, but waiting for dialup is worst.
    And, after all, I disagree that people want to have all the content of the WWW on their cell phones. Check out wap.idg/index.html

  • The entire standard is supposed to be geared
    towards low-capability devices. It is a standard
    to fill a current need. I think it should be viewed as such. No one is expecting their watches or phones to have Quaking ability for the next few years, and this is where this standard comes in.

    It also addresses some issues in its various substandards that I think are commendable. For example, XML is this huge hunk of text that has an extremely low content-to-size ratio. The WAP binary XML format is a good and simple way to reduce the size without resorting to processor intensive bitstream-compression techniques.
  • They use the bog standard normal protocols pal.
  • Wireless access to the Internet via a cellphone was a stupid idea to begin with. I tried it with one of the first Sprint 'Wireless Web' phones and found it to be almost useless (despite the extra $20 in access charges it added).

    Almost all the reviews I have read of any such device are entirely negative.

    Who thought of this? Who decided we wanted it? And why? This technology, along with WAP, will soon die the quick death it deserves.

  • More information about WAP here []! (What is WAP? FAQ here []).
  • by chuck ( 477 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @05:56AM (#952006) Homepage
    A good article [] on the problems of WAP protocols and formats has been on [] for quite some time. I suggest anyone interested read this article for a really good understanding of the issues involved.
  • Maybe an industry standard should be set until everyone gets their protocols worked out? Since we know content will always be different for mobile devices why not call it the "Mobile Wide Web" and use something like:

    Then whoever has Mobile content can push that specific content to the user based on those requests (easy to implement with the current internet topology and practices).

    It is easy to remember 'mww' and only one character off from the ever so lovely 'www'... and kinda sums up the whole movement. Just a thought.

  • It's good to note you didn't forget to misspell a word, experience in this case.
  • In one sense, WAP is competing with GPRS.

    Some months back, I investigated some Palm-based work with WAP and WML. What I discovered was twofold; that using WAP meant "the whole package" -- I couldn't run HTML over WAP, and I couldn't run WML over HTTP. If I wanted to host anything at all on the WAP mobile networks and gateways, I was very tightly constrained into my content.

    Secondly (and more seriously), WML is useless for anything bigger than a phone; and by "bigger" I mean such huge devices as Palms and PDAs, not workstations. Issues like the WAP deck size limit are so painful that the protocol is simply unusable for anything above the most trivial of phone-like devices (6 line screens - runs out of steam for 12 line)

    I also found that the much-discussed single XML format -> XSLT -> HTML + WML model of content production didn't work either. WML and its limits are so pervasive that they break the XML representation for your content, at a level far higher than a mere XSLT fix-up can deal with.

    IMHO, WAP is dying here in the UK, and good riddance to it. It's another Rabbit Phone, so lets let it die and get one with GPRS and (hopefully) a decent content language like XHTML-Basic.

  • It means that the standard isn't a viable enough threat for Microsoft to go to all the trouble of embracing, extending, and extinguishing. It's along the lines of how some of the best praise is the hatred of thine enemies.
  • by SandsOfTime ( 156312 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @05:59AM (#952011)

    Asking content-providers to support a whole new protocol just for certain devices is the wrong approach. The right approach is to intelligently parse normal HTML and try to format it for the specific needs of the device, or ignore elements that can't be rendered on the device. For example, AvantGo [] does this for the Palm devices and other handhelds. It can automatically strip out images and tables (depending on setup). Web page designers can put in a meta tag [] "HandheldFriendly" to tell AvantGo to leave the tables in because they are designed to look ok on the Palm. This is pretty convenient, and I've used it successfully with some of my own dynamically generated pages.

  • Rob has access to at least $1.5 million of his new-found wealth, plus his annual salary of $90,000.

    "Acquisition of In June 1999, we acquired substantially all of
    the assets and assumed certain liabilities relating to the web site
    from BlockStackers, Inc. is the largest online community for
    Linux/Open Source developers providing news, commentary, information and
    reviews. Consideration for the transaction consists of a $1.5 million cash
    payment made at the closing, and contingent payments of $2.0 million of stock
    valued at the initial public offering price issuable upon the closing of this
    offering, up to $3.5 million in cash and up to $5.0 million in stock valued at
    the initial public offering price and payable during the two years following
    this offering. "

  • I was merely replying to Rob's offtopic whine about diffs and how overworked he was.
  • Look.

    The current generation of phones are pretty crap for accessing the internet. WAP just doesn't cut it. The phone manufacturers know this. They've known for years. They have a new generation of phones on the way (in production, not just design) with large screens and high bandwidth (faster than modem) network connections. More like PDAs than phones.

    The networks behind these phones are going in to Europe as I type and will be available as soon as they can get their marketing arses into gear.

    WAP is dead. No point in re-engineering everything towards it.

  • What I meant was it was designed with mobile phones rather than for wireless devices in general and hence has certain parts of it which specifically apply to mobile phones and don't make sense in the context of other wireless devices.

    Jon E. Erikson
  • Thank you, cdmrtaco, for brightening up my day.
    You have no idea how much better i feel now that i have randomly run across a Warp Records reference in an unexpected place. My morning has now been worth it. :)

    I love everything2. Who thought that anything mentioning Boards of Canada, Autechre, etc. would ever wind up being linked from the slashdot main page, even unintentionally?
  • by SimonK ( 7722 ) on Friday July 07, 2000 @07:28AM (#952018)
    You're confusing the protocol WAP with the markup language WML. Most of the criticism in the story is about WAP, though there are also problems with WML. Given that Japanese DoCoMo mobiles can already present limited HTML content meaningfully, and have bigger screens and much better market penetration than WML phones anywhere, it seems to be that no good justification exists for WML's pandering to small screen size and assumptions about presentation. Location based services, and web pages integration phone functionality sound like things that could be integrated into the existing scheme of URLs and emphatically don't require a redesign from scratch of the whole protocol suite and a brand new markup language.

    As the IETF paper points out, WAP itself (as opposed to WML) seems primarily to be marketing construct rather than a protocol with any significan technical benefits. It especially concerns me that some mobile phone operators will probably use the protocol diconnect between their own services and the real internet to act as "portals" and try to promote a closed content model rather than the traditionally open one of the internet.

  • How does a comment which does nothing but reiterate part of the story get moderated up to +4 ?
  • You're not wrong, as they say... :)

    What really annoys me is this "access X-million Internet sites" crap. I don't want a number that so obvious "counts up from zero" like that; it means that tomorrow They'll increase the number as an excuse to charge you shed-loads more.
    If they said "access loads of sites where the providers have got With It and provided WAP data", then they'd be saying the right thing, but they'd find out a big problem: there is no data on the WWW ("The Internet", d'oh), there's just frutzy graphics....!
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • Leaches [sic] exist due to the efforts or output of others. Rob made millions by letting people write on his web page.

    That's what business is. You provide a service that someone wants and get something in return for it. This could be pizza delivery, babysitting, carpet cleaning, painting, a ton of things. Rob provided a website. A lot of people 'wanted' it, and he got something in return.

    The whiners that wanted the source, OTOH, just wanted to be able to use slash without having to give anything in return. It was Rob's site, and Rob's work. They should have written their own code if they wanted it. Instead, he gave it to you guys, and now what. You think you deserve to demand from him every little feature you desire. Well, like Rob said, it's not going to happen.

  • If I want a particular PDA format to be supported, I'd expect the people who are paid to run the site to code for it, not me.

    When I make millions out of Slashdot, too, then I'll roll up my sleeves and start coding for you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 07, 2000 @05:42AM (#952034)
    There is NO IETF document on WAP. The link provided is a document submitted to the IETF mailing list (wich caused a lot of discussion on that list), but is not the work of a working group or any body within the IETF.

    The problem that most people have on that list is the advertising. WAP phones are generaly advertized as "mobile internet" which is offcource false. WAP does not provide a IP layer it only provides limited proxied access to one of the many applications running on the Internet.
  • Now I will be the first to confess that I am no expert on WAP. From my limited consumer knowledge of WAP, it is some sort of protocol that lets you surf the web from your PDA or mobile phone (amongst other things I am sure, but I couldn't tell you what).

    Now if the main benefit of WAP is surfing the web from a PDA or phone, could someone tell me why this is so great like all the marketings makes out it is?!?

    I mean geez, in todays wired world, you are literally no more than 5 minutes from a computer anyway. If you want to surf the web, use the tool that is designed to surf the web ... a computer, or even a console ... anything with a decent sized screen. Why oh why would you want to use a mobile phone with it's postage stamp sized screen to surf the web is beyond me.

    I think people forget that not every tool that we have needs to be able to do everything under the sun. But maybe that's just me ...

    Someone please help me understand what all the fuss is all about? I want to jump on the bandwagon as well :-)

  • How will this cater for the extra features that are propsed for WAP such as location detection, or hyperlinks that call telephone numbers?

    In theory trimming down HTML works really well for presenting textual information on a small screen, but it doesn't really allow you to cater for extra services that make mobile devices really useful.

    Now a handset that can handle BOTH wap and slimmed-down HTML... now you're talking!

    "Give the anarchist a cigarette"
  • And this is what I got:
    "Perhaps interestingly, WAP is also Malay word for vapour"

    Explains exactly as much as I need to know about WAP.

  • WAP is the protocol equivalent to HTTP. WML and HDML are the equivalent of HTML. When most people say their Web sites are "WAP compatible", what they mean to say is that they serve up "WML or HDML formatted content."

    ... except, unlike the HTTP spec, the WAP spec actually specifies WML and WMLScript as part of the specification. You can actually say that you are "WAP 1.1 compatable" and it means a fairly specific thing with reguards to overall capabilities -- Not just the communication protocol involved.

    As for which thing people are complaining about, it looks like the main complaint right now is WML, though I can certainly see some other issues popping up in some of the protocols.

  • Here is one positive usage [] of WAP - porn. Apparently its getting quite common to sign up for adult-oriented text and small, blurry pictures on your cell phone. Sigh.
  • What does that mean, "Even Microsoft rejects the standard"?

Disraeli was pretty close: actually, there are Lies, Damn lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, and Delivery dates.