Category Archives: MobileAjax

Snapshots of incoming Webwag Mobile V2 version

Webwag’ve got a new CEO, Stephane Labrunie, coming for IPlay, that’s the first news. The second one is some snapshots of the new incoming V2 version:

Creating widget is still incredibely simple: a few XML lines, a little bit of JavaScript, and you have your mobile widget ready to be deployed! More tutorials will come shortly, but you have some of them on Webwag blog.

Check also the Official Webwag blog.

Creating your own mobile widget: part 1

As discussed earlier, our SDK is open to third party developers. To get it, just drop us an email at feedback@webwag.com .

It’s very easy to create your own mobile widget, with very little code. If you are a web widget developer, you will be familiar rapidely with mobile widget.

So let’s dig into a widget, and let’s see how we can create one very easily

A widget is made of two main part:

  • an XML description of the UI
  • a script, which contains the behavior of the widget.

Let’s start with the clock, which is one of the easiest one, and let’s jump directly into the source of the widget (source code is here ):

The widget is enclosed into a “widget” tag, and the first part contains the UI description:
- image tells the engine that there is an image to display, and the url of the image is “clock.png”. By default, URL will be relative to the source file of the widget itself.
- then, to “poly‘ elements. Poly are polygons (but limited to three points for now) that are displayed on screen. cx and cy define the center of the polygon relative to the origin of the widget, and poly contains the x,y pair of points that define the login. Here we have three point (p1={0,0},p2={0,0],p3={20,0}) which is basically a line.
borderColor define the border color of that polygon.
The last item, is a non visible one: timer, and this element will just call a callback at a specified interval , in that case, at every 200/10 seconds, so every 20 seconds….


the script is quite easy:
- a function (onTimerFired) and a “main” part which just call that function.

Note that onTimerFired will be the default function called by the timer element. The content of the function is simple:
time() return the current time in the form DD/MM/YY ss:mm, like 07/07/2007 13:12
then explode will convert this string in an array, using the space as a spearator.
So timeArr[3] will contains 13:12
Next line, 13:12 is then exploded once again and put in another array, so hour[0] will contains 13 while
hour[1] whil contains 12.

The next two line, just set the angle properties of the two polygons created earlier. nameCl and hourCl are
the name used in the definition of these polygons, so now the script can refer to them directly.

We could access to most of the attributes of the UI elements directly, like hourCl.cx=13 our minCl.borderColor=”0xFF0000″

So as you see, with less then 10 lines of code, we have created a nice looking analog clock running on most of the mobile devices….

More tutorial and full documentation are availables on our devleoper pages…..

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Webwag new look and mobile launch

Great news with the new look of the web site, and the official launch of the mobile version (in fact, since a couple of days, but we were too busy putting everything up to blog it!).

So, go and try webwag.com to experiment the new WebWab look. Flashy colors are avalaible, as well as more relaxing green or grey.

This is also the launch of the long awaited Webwag mobile version! >Now everybody with a recent J2me phone can experiment true mobile widgets.

Webwag mobile perspective

Just go to the website, register and open the small “phone” icon and follow the steps…

This is the first major milestone in the Webwag vision of the “Personnal Digital Hub”, allowing access to all your content from various devices, whatever are the technologies.

Mobile is only the first step, and you will see others in that direction.

The SDK will be released later on but we will select a few motivated developper if they want to experiment it earlier.
Widgets use an XML description for UI, and a simple scripting language for behavior. Every JavaScript developper will be familiar with these technologies in a few hours, even if more complex widgets require more work: we don’t deal with the same issues as in the browser world!

Widget week in London summary

Last week was “Mobile Widget week” in London, with what seems to be a nice Mobile Monday about widgets. I was not here, but here is a list of related links to this event:

This one is not directly related to this mobile widget week, but as usual, techtype haves some strong views, which are most of the time very interesting. And I really like the title!

Webwag mobile Beta open: experiment true mobile widgets today!

Want to test the new Webwag mobile extension? Then go to http://beta.webwag.com and use your webwag account (or create one!).

There only are few handsets officially supported (N70, K750, K800, LG Chocolote, Sagem My800x) but should work on more handsets, just try it, and let us know the results.

  1. Register and create your webwag account
  2. Add the widgets you like in your page
  3. Add them into your “mobile screen”. To open your mobile screen, click on the “mobile” icon on the top left, or click on the “mobile” icon on the existing box.
  4. “save and install” will send you an installation SMS that you should receive within minutes with a link to download it on your mobile. On most of the handsets, the link will be selectable within the SMS. On some handsets (like the LG, Motorola) you can use this link from a specific menu from the SMS message.

If you have problems receiving the SMS, let us now

Feedback, issue, just email us at: feedback@webwag.com

Faq:

* Are all widgets available from Web and mobile?

No, only a subset of existing widgets are today available on mobile:

  • RSS
  • Flickr
  • Email
  • Note
  • Weather
  • Clock
  • Background

* Is it the same widget running on web wand mobile?

The widgets use the same data, but are different, because of size issue.

* But why not having just a web browser running these mobile widgets?

Because first, technically very few handset have the capacities to run complex widgets within browser, and also because we think that usage are different from web and mobile.

* Do you plan to support more handsets?

Of course, we are already working on this.

* Waow, sounds so cool, how can I participate and create my own widget?

The SDK is not yet public, but just email us and we will notify you when ready (feedback@webwag.com)

JavaFX : the missed opportunity from Sun

Sun officially launched today “JavaFX” (previously know as F3). It’s a scripting language that could be used to easily create rich content application for Java powered device.
This seems to be the Sun’s answer to Apollo and SilverLight, from Microsoft. Honestly, the answer is a little bit disapointing

  • One more language! The language itself, is nothing really fancy. No major killing feature, not as dynamic as Ruby for instance, and not close enough to other “standards” like Javascript or Java. So why create another language, while there are so many?
  • Integration, deployment: I take a look at the first sample and libraries. The library is something between 1 and 2 meg, on top of a standard JavaVM (JavaSE!). So, it’s huge. That’s one of the big weaknesses of Java today: the runtime is already so big, the installation so long, but worst, the starting time once everything has been installed.
  • Target: mobile. Sun claims that it’s a good candidate for mobile application. Of course, it’s the next battlefield. But honestly, JavaFX is way too big to fit on existing mass market devices or any existing J2me implementation, so it needs to be embedded natively probably. I do not beleive that JavaFX mobile will be a serious candidate in the next 18 months, too early.
  • Why not pushing further SVG? SVG is the current standard in vector graphics (and Flash is the de-facto standard). So why not push more SVG, by creating a better binding with SVG and Java, and/or Javascript?

So I do not believe that JavaFX will be big. It’s another missed opportunity from Sun to reinvent themselves. They had a widely deployed VM, that had the “network is the computer vision”, and now they desperately trying to follow on the RIA…Ajax is an intermediate technology, soit’s a fantastic opportunity to create something really new, Microsoft and Adobe are on the train, and Sun still trying to jump in…

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Mobile Widgets: soon a reality!

Here are the first screenshots of the first result of the Mobease/Webwag acquisition: Webwag mobile, a full mobile widget engine….Beta just started on a small number of handsets, but more to come.
This engine haves mobile Ajax capacities, scripting, OTA update, and much more…..


I will soon write more about the technical details of the engines, as the API will be totally free and open, so developper can write real mobile and web widgets, that can be accessed from anywhere…

S60 Widgets

Nokia just announced Seris 60 mobile Widgets. Obviously an hot topic for Nokia which is supporting also Widsets. Unfortunatly, there is no real demo available, just some animation right now, but the site claims:

“Widgets are lightweight Web applications developed using familiar,
standards-based Web technologies used to create Web pages: HTML, CSS,
JavaScript, and even advanced AJAX. They give S60 users a full Web
experience with instant access to the most essential Web 2.0 services
and Internet content. With widgets, people can personalize the content
and services that matter most to them.

No availibility date has been announced.

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MobileWidgets are moving fast: Mobease acquired by Webwag!

 Seems that mobile widget is a really fast moving area. Our first product (MobiFindIt!, a mobile search engine) has just been launched, and our second one, mobidget is not yet public (but you won’t have to wait too much) and we are already acquired! The happy owner of Mobease is Webwag, one of the actor of the start page space…

+ mobeaselogo_final_smal_logo.png

We were discussing, and even working together since some time, the WOD (Widget On Demand) being one of the first result of this great collaboration.
 I’ll will take the role of WebWag CTO. It’s a really interesting space, as we are one of the few company with a strong experience both in mobile and in Web technologies, Ajax, Web2.0, etc… But there is an incredible amount of work to be done, both for improving the current platform and adding all our cool new innovations.
  Widget are now increasingly popular, mobile widget are on the same trends too, the launch of the iPhone increased a lot the visibility on this space. Technically speaking, there are a lot of challenges, both on web and mobile (Ajax and his challengers like Flash, RDA, Mobile Ajax, etc….) that show that there are a lot of open possibilities.
  But more than technology used to achieve this, widget and personnal page are in my view the best example of web and mobile integration, where user can access to the same data from various devices. The usage (of these devices) will be different, but they all provide an ubiquitous access to your personnal datas and area of interest.
As you guess, the integration of mobease technologies (Mobile Search, Mobile Widget) will provides a superior user experience when combined with the Web.

  I will also speak as a Webwag representent at the next Benchmark conference on the Web2.0 this Tuesday in Paris.

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powered by performancing firefox

Mobile Widgets: Bling Software at Demo07

Another interesting demo from Demo07 was the BlingSoftware presentation. Bling software is another new entrant into the mobile widget space. They are only on brew for now, and the position themselves as provider of the “First Ajax Client for Mobile Handset” (which is wrong by the way). But I am a little bit doubtful about such positioning. Ajax (or any other technology) is just an enabler. The Demo07 presentation was mainly showing that by changing an URL in a text file, packaging it into a software and downloading it into a Brew phone, you then have access to this picture (or video) from the phone.
Read like this, does not seems a big deal. The fact is that what happens in the background was much more complex than this (a JavaScript interpreter running on a phone as a brew app for instance) but they scenario of the demo did not captured this in my view. Doing demos is an hard job, but I am not sure that others would have done better….

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Yahoo!Go 2.0 is out, but beta is already full

The new Yahoo! Go 2.0 is out, but it seems already impossible to download it, as the beta is closed due to too high number of downloads. The result seems quite impressive, and now it works also on J2me. So as predicted (yes, this is in my 2007 predictions, but they are not yet published!), Yahoo is following Google (and soon Microsoft) in providing high quality frontend in J2me to their services…

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Is Adobe Apollo better than Ajax? (applications back to desktop!)

 May be you’ve heard the buzz about the Apollo project from Adobe. Basically, it’s a desktop framework that allows the execution of  applications in a machine independant mode, and provide access to local ressources of the computer (mainly filesystem). The objective is to be able to use Web applications in a non connected mode (local) for various reseaons (speed, availability of network, etc…). This is also called RDA (Rich Desktop Application )

The first remark, is that it sounds very similar to the initial objective of Java, 10 years ago! A machine independant VM, internet oriented, etc… especially with automatic upgrade features that are now parts of JavaWebStart. I am always surprised by the way industry always “re-create” the same things again and again. The good thing is that each iteration is better than previous one, but now, after the “everything is on the browser”, we are back to “local applications”. Sun had the lead some years ago, but was totally unable to drive and support the market.

About the framework, himself, there is not yet so many information, but I am afraid that it’s just a good repackaging of a local Flash player with PDF and an HTML component…Nothing really exciting, but Adobe is very good at creating the right buzz  and as always, got great designers that create apps with the right waoow effect. The positive side is that Ajax/HTML are not really good technologies to build rich UI, they are just hacks, so it’s time to have something better. Not sure that Adobe will bring something better, but the fact is that there are not so many alternatives yet. Microsft is polishing is WPF framework (ok, not polishing but starting) so Adobe may have a timing advantage here.

But I have a few remarks:

- This is not standard. By developping an Apollo application, you rely on Adobe as the only provider of a technology. You can not provide your own Apollo implementation for specific devices, like mobile phones for instance. It’s a step back from the internet open standards.

- Full offline capacities won’t be for Ajax/HTML: I am quite sure that the offline capacities will only be available for Flash/Flex application. In other word, an existing Ajax/HTML based application won’t be able to run offline , or just as the equivalent of a “save as” mode, unless it will be rewritten. So do not expect to “port” your existing application now. It’s the best way to push you to adopt Flash/Flex.

- Is JavaScript/ActionScript the right language? JavaScript is a nice language, but is it adapted to develop full applications? Remember that in a RIA, most of the application logic will reside locally while now you can have part of this logic – especially the complex one – on the server side. So suddenly you will haves thousands if not more lines of code in pure JavaScript. Was already hard to manage on the internet, might be harder with RIA? ActionScript, which is ECMA based, seems more mature than pure JavaScript, but also incompatible….

My last remark (and linked to the first one) is that on mobile for once are not to far away. The availability of Ajax enabled browsers was limited (read non existant), so all rich applications are made using this kind of concept through J2ME, FlashLite, native, etc…and framework (like Mobease Widget one) are built on top of these technologies.

As I’ve previously explained, mobile is most of the time more about synchronisation than browsing (for mails, address, news, etc…) and such locally running app with connected capacities are the best answers.

That’s why Apollo go into the right direction even if there is still a lot of weaknesses in the approach, so let’s see how others react – Microsoft is doing WPF . Is there any attempt from the opensource community to propose something like this? OpenLaszlo? FireFox with XUL?

Note: during the preparation of this note, I’ve discovered “SideWinder“, which seems to be a project that attempt to build a framework for connected/non connected internet application. Seems highly interesting, but also not very mature as I was not able to run a single demo…

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First Microsoft application for J2me!

Microsoft just released “Windows Live for mobile“, and as far as I know, it’s the first time that Microsft release a J2me Application! (but don’t worry, there is a Windows Mobile app too)


Windows logo on J2me device! :-)

So support for J2me seems quite limited (see my full report on the mobile mapping blog), but it’s rare enough to be noticed.

In summary:
- not yet as polished as Google map
- Still some porting issue (menu keys)
- map download (when working) is quite fast and works well
- some good and interesting UI ideaes….

As expected, the long term war will be one services, and not applications…The underlying language/OS is not very relevant, and I expect to see more Microsoft application on J2me, or in other platforms (Flash, Symbian, etc…).

This is Mobile2.0!

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Identity and mobile

Digital Identity will be without any doubt one of the big challenge in the coming months. Why? Because of two important trends:

  • The explosion of services targeting segmented needs: from generic ones (email, calendar, feeds) to community oriented (MySpace, pictures, etc…)
  • The “mashup/widget” trends, who gives the capacity for end user to aggregate these services to create their own unique application

Each of these service require usually an identity (most of the time a username/ password)
As an illustration, this excellent picture summarize the complexity of the various indentities that you use


(source: FredCavazza blog)

So what happens practically?

Today, you have to create a new login password for each new service you subscribe. The subscription is painful, you enter  again your coordinates, if you are lucky you can choose your username/password, if unlucky you are given a password if not an username. So one more to rememer….

The Digital Identity try to solve this by bringing a different mechanism: instead of having to register each time to a new site, the site get a part from your numeric ID and you just have one click to authorize it. Does not mean that they all sites haves the same right , you could provide them different level of access to your personal information if needed.

Seems quite complex, but when well implemented, could be a really good user experience. You can “feel” the concept with sites like Flickr, where third parties can access to your data without having to ask you your username/paswwrod. You can even easily revoke them at any time.

What is the impact on mobile?

Identity management on the web is painful, but it’s a nightmare on mobile. With more “Mobile2.0″ capacities (i.e. more data services) users will want to access to their web data on mobile. The bad news, is that not only you will have to retype all these username password, but with a keyboard not designed for this…

The solution
A decentralized Digital Identity approach could easily solve all this problem. By having the ability to easily provide your digital ID to applications (and in an ideal world , linked to your SimCard) these one can discuss with an ID server to ask for informations, and you are just one click to authorize them (which is a small effort even on mobile).

Does this will happens?
On the short term, it won’t be pushed by operators, as they are the only one that can easily knows user identity, and that’s a unique advantage from their point of view. But by opening this, and give easy access to third parties it could boost service usages.
There was various attempt from Operators, Third Parties (Sun’s Liberty Alliance for instance) to solve this issue, but none was really succsefull yet in terms of useability, most of today practical solution are still username/password based.

Conclusion
Mobile requires even more than the Web a standard Digital ID approach due to both technical constraint of the mobile and the increase of data services available. The mobile already have the technical basis to do this (SimCard for instance) but no real solution has been yet put in place. So we can only wait more to see if existing Digital Signature solutions from the Web will move to mobile….

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Mobile Web2.0 (The Book!)

I had some time this week to go through the excellent Ajit Jaokar and Tony fish book about Mobile Web2.0. Even if I must admit that I sometime disagree with Ajit on “MobileWeb2.0″ vs “Mobile2.0″ (which is not only a mobile web browsing experience), there are many interesting aspect in the book.
The main trends that will drive Mobile in the future are clearly explained, as well as some topic that I follow closely like MobileWidgets and Location Based Service. I especially like the chapter about factors affecting Mobile 2.0….So it’s the first book (and probably not the last) book on this very hot topic, which is already a reference.

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Mobile2.0 event feedback

Unfortunatly, I was not able to attend to what seemed to be an interesting event. However, Mike Rowehl made partially an analysis of the event, but also had great comments about the various actors:
Mobile2.0 – Didn’t Quite do it

I really like these one:

  • Lots of people looking to publish new content for mobile were upset about the number of browsers and incompatible standards they needed to be familiar with in order to get anything up and online. However the
    people working in mobile for a while were pissed about anything that tried to plaster over all the differences they’ve spent years learning the ins and outs of and building up adaptations for.
  • People coming from the web world insist that the only real way to get mobile used is to make sure that mobile and the web integrate well, that there should be seamless blending of the web and mobile. People coming from places without fixed internet access yell and scream that we really need to stop shoving the web into their perfectly usable mobile only environment.
  • Mobile service providers list the myriad ways that people developing mobile applications and content can simply and easily put their content up online and start making money from it. People with mobile content and applications moan that none of the methods for publishing and monetizing their content and applications come anywhere near the simplicity they need, and they just can’t bear the margins provided.
  • Existing web publishers keep telling us that mobile is just too early to try to make money off of, don’t bother trying yet cause the ecosystem isn’t ready. However people with novel new applications (the ones that are most well positioned to respect the context of mobile implicitly) have no chance to bring their disruptive application to fruition because the only way to make money is to bolt on a crappy web experience as well.
  • People working on standards for the mobile web and application programming environments can list for you a complete alphabet soup of acronyms describing the millions of ways in which mobile application development will be better just a few months from now. People working on applications feel like the standardization efforts take way to long and don’t deliver anything that really makes their lives any easier.

Sorry for copying this more or less directly, but is it soooo true…

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Gmail for mobile: near perfect….

Photo Gmailmobile I finally had GMail client application working! The program was always complainging with the following error: “This program require a working connection. Check your settings“. My settings were good, and it was obvious that the connection was on-going between GMail and their server.
In fact, the problem was that my GMail account had a default language which was not english (in that case french). So switching it to english solved the issue. Surprisingly bad user experience for a Google application.

Anyway, the program is working fine, and already a hit. I will not go into the details, C.Enrique made a nice “review” on it…
Just some though:

- compared to all others mail program that I was able to test, it’s from far the most easiest to use, and the most readable. It shows how complex it is to create a simple to use UI (this is not a framework issue, but a usability issue)
- shows also that except from my small connection issue, most of the mobile are ready for mass deployment of connected applications. Mobile2.0 is heare, and it’s a perfect exemple of the power of synchronisation vs browsing (and for me, this is a mobile Ajax application).
- MIDP still have some works to do, especially on the ability to launch one app from an other. Today, no way to launch GMail client from Opera Mini, or from a Widget engine. You need to exit, and find the app by yourself. Should be solved by “JSR211, content handler API”, but there is still no handset implementing this JSR!
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Mobile Developement Simplification

One more comment about the importance of widgets in mobile development:

While this only solves a part of the problem it immediately increases the size of the telephony application developer base (which I think is a good thing for everyone.) If a web developer can start creating mobile apps imagine the opportunities for cool new services, especially if hardware dependent telephony and GEO APIs are easily exposed?

The answer is of course under development at Mobease, with the upcoming “Mobidgets“, the revolution in mobile widgets….

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