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Programming the Mobile Web

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Mobile Web DevelopmentI don’t know about you, but I vividly remember the day I learned HTML. I took my first HTML course in the fall of 1994 for $10 given by a guy who was building Web sites in Santa Fe for local artists. The entire world opened up to me and that alone was worth every penny of the ten bucks spent.

Now, the whole world is going to be made compact enough to fit on my mobile phone or device so a book like Mobile Web Development (by Nirav Mehta, 2008 Packt Publishing) is a useful read even though it has been a long time since I’ve rolled up my sleeves, squinted my eyes, and dug into code.

If I were still coding, this book would probably mean as much to me today as Teach Yourself HTML in a Week by Laura Lemay meant to me back in the 90s. Even as the person who hires the coders on development projects, it was an interesting read, particularly getting a glimpse of how far HTML has taken us and where it seems to be going.

Mobile Web Development covers building Web sites, configuring SMS and MMS messaging, setting up mobile payments as well as voice call systems. The gist of the book is to help you create mobile-friendly sites and mobile-ready apps. The book covers programming in XHTML MP (Extensible HTML Mobile Profile), WCSS (Wireless CSS) and mobile AJAX (asynchronous Javascript and XML).

The book uses a ficticious pizza business – Pizza on the Run – as the guinea pig for a mobile site and mobile apps development which covers the planning process and decision-making that needs to happen before programming. An example used in the book is looking at creating Multimedia Messages for special offers for Pizza on the Run. The book is written in a conversational and accessible tone with a clear format for all of the code so while I may not be digging into this code any time soon, the basic concepts made sense to me.

While you don’t need any special software or hardware to gain knowledge from this book, you do need a Windows system to install mobile emulators and IVR software and then a PHP/MySQL setup to run any of the book’s examples.

If you are curious at all about the behind-the-scenes code that brings the Web and applications to mobile devices, this is a good primer. The book whets your appetite for upcoming trends, mentioning Open Handset Alliance and Google’s Android system, and it also lists some Web resources so you can stay up-to-the-moment on mobile Web developments.