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Wrox Professional Wap Review

Rated 3.93 (Ratings: 3)

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Steve Cook

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User since: 29 Aug 1999

Articles written: 11

This review appeared first on my mailing list Wap-Dev.

Professional WAP

Publisher: Wrox Press

ISBN: 1-861004-04-4


  1. Overview of WAP
  2. Setting up WAP
  3. WAP Gateways
  4. Basic WML
  5. Interacting with the User
  6. WMLScript
  7. Usability
  8. ASP and WAP
  9. Multiple Device Types using XML and XSLT
  10. Java, XML and WAP
  11. ColdFusion and WAP
  12. Converting Existing Web Sites to WAP
  13. WAP and E-Mail
  14. WAP and LDAP/Directory Services
  15. WAP Security
  16. Push Technologies
  17. WTA - Interacting with the Mobile Phone
  18. VoiceXML- Voice Markup language
  19. What the Future holds


  1. WML Elements
  2. WMLScript Reference
  3. Standard WMLScript Library Functions
  4. WTAI Libraries
  5. The WBMP Image Format
  6. Apache and Tomcat Format
  7. Glossary
  8. Resources
  9. Support, Errata and


This book is Wrox's first foray into the subject of WAP and

WML development of mobile applications. It presents a broad overview of the

WAP standards and a detailed guide to WML 1.1 and WMLScript. There is a wide

discussion of different methods for creating mobile applications and

converting existing web material. The book also includes a look at some of

the WAP enhancements we can expect to see in the near future, helping

developers plan ahead for future functionality.


When I initially received this book, I was sceptical that Wrox could find

enough material about WAP development to fill 800 pages, without falling

into the trap of filling up with a great deal of useless side information.

On seeing that there were chapters covering ASP, ColdFusion and Java, I

thought my fears were justified, but in fact the authors have managed to

avoid the problem from being too great by using the different development

methods to introduce different techniques a developer might need to use in

implementing a strong and flexible use of WAP as an alternative delivery

channel for online services.

The book begins with an introduction to WAP as a family of standards and

presents the development model and the WAP Forum. It then introduces

different ways of accessing WAP content through PC based emulators or phone

microbrowsers. The first section of the book then closes with an

introduction to WAP Gateways, which introduces the concept in enough depth

to allow a developer to make an informed decision as to whether his company

requires a gateway and what benefits they might bring. As the actual

development of gateways and PC based browsers is so rapid, this information

may very quickly become dated, but the central concepts should at least hold


The next part of the book brings us into the meatiest content area, an

introduction to WML and WMLScript. These two core parts of the WAP

developers arsenal are well presented and should answer the majority of

questions anyone starting to create WAP applications might pose. Attention

is drawn to the differences between various microbrowsers' support, but

there are perhaps some problems with the way this is done, which I have

outlined below. Anyone who has developed with HTML and / or JavaScript will

have no problems picking up the techniques described in these chapters and

even complete beginners should find they can develop quite complex

applications with a little study. Because WML and WMLS are rather simple

languages, they are covered in quite enough depth that most developers'

needs should be catered for. The final chapter in this section covers the

subject of useability and like many articles on the subject, should be taken

as a set of guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. This chapter is well

written though and thought provoking especially in its discussions of

catering to different microbrowsers and picking which functionality of an

existing application should be included in a WAP application.

Part three discusses different methods for generating dynamic WAP content.

It was here I was worried that the authors may have been padding out their

material, but in fact this section contains some great tips for application

developers. It is worth taking a look through each of the chapters, even if

it does not cover your technology of choice. The chapter on ASP for

instance, introduces us to common beginners issue such as sending correct

MIME types in content headers and interacting with WML forms on the server

side. This is followed with a look at using XML and XSLT to serve content to

different browsers. I must admit that after reading this chapter I felt I

was still a little in the dark about this technology - the level of

complexity of the solution left me wondering whether for the majority of

sites it wouldn't be overkill. Worth following up this subject with a deeper

look at the whole subject of XML if that's where your researches are taking


There are quite a few developers here who are developing using JSP and they

will be pleased by a whole chapter on combining Java, XML and WAP. Once

again, I'm no Java expert, but the information here throws some extra light

on developing in a flexible way to serve multiple client browsers. Finally

part three looks at ColdFusion and WAP - another extremely popular

development environment. As someone who develops in PHP and ASP (for

different projects), I could complain that the lack of a PHP chapter is a

problem, but in all honesty, the techniques presented in these 4 chapters

cover the most popular development techniques and are quite easily adapted

to your platform of choice with only a little head-scratching! After all,

this is a "Programmer to Programmer" book rather than a dummies guide!

The next section focuses on "Developing advanced WAP applications". The

first chapter in this section may be of use to developers who need to

convert a substantial amount of existing web content that isn't in a

database or similar dynamic format. It looks at several existing tools for

conversion and how to write your own custom converter. Interestingly this

chapter also looks at when it may be worthwhile taking this approach - a

useful point if we are to avoid a situation where every other WAP site is a

complete clone of a static HTML site - not a very useful or desirable

situation. The following two chapters cover integrating WAP with email and

directory services. Both cover extremely useful techniques for the portal

builder and look at the subjects in surprising depth. However neither is

likely to be a complete solution for your needs "out of the box" and with

the number of suppliers starting to offer ready made solutions, these

chapters will probably mostly be of use in small specific cases. Finally

Chapter 15 looks at Wireless security in enough depth to answer the majority

of questions the average developer will have an provides a number of strong

jumping off points for those who require further information or more

developed solutions.

Part five of this book will be both exciting and disappointing for many

developers. Here the authors take a look at the future development of the

WAP specifications, outlining many of the groovy techniques we will be using

in the future, but also spelling out the inevitable truth that the vast

majority of these features are not implemented in either the networks or the

handsets yet. Push, WTA and the WTAI libraries and VoiceXML are all covered

along with an optimistic look at what the future holds for wireless

technologies. Mouthwatering stuff!

The book finishes up with an extremely useful set of Appendices, which I

personally would love to have in a pocket size reference version. Here are

WML and WMLS references, WTAI libraries and more.


I did have a couple of criticisms. The Range of different authors for

different chapters means that there are discernible style differences

throughout the book. It could have benefited from a slightly stronger style

guide. One area where this was especially apparent was in the introductions

to WML and WMLS. Tucked in amongst the descriptions of different mark-up

tags and code functions are various comments about the inconsistent support

between various browsers. As only two browsers are covered in the book,

(Nokia SDK and UP.Simulator) these comments would have been better either

broken out of the main text in the form of a standard warning that this is a

known area of inconsistent support, or perhaps discussed in a separate

chapter. Finally I felt that the index was awkward to use in places - the

first thing I tried to look up was information about character entities.

Finding nothing under "character" or "entities" (or even "special

characters") I gave up and flicked through the book to find the info I was

looking for. A couple of days later I noticed that it was under "WML -

special characters", which in a book about WAP struck me as rather like

placing information about arrays under "Perl - arrays" in a book about Perl


Those small niggles aside, I would recommend Professional WAP to anyone

looking to buy a reference for their WAP developing adventures. It provides

all the information a developer needs to get started in all aspects of

developing mobile services. Fortunately it doesn't answer every question,

meaning that lists such as ours will continue to flourish! For complete

non-programmers, a great deal of this book will be overcomplicated. However

the introductory chapters covering WML and WMLS should mean that even

complete beginners can produce useful content. Experienced programmers will

find a good coverage of techniques for extending their applications to

mobile users.

Further Information:

Professional WAP has a cover price of $59.99 (US), $89.95 (Can) and �43.99

(UK). The author list is:

Charles Arehart, Nirmal Chidambaram, Shashikiran Guruprasad, Alex Homer, Ric

Howell, Stephan Kasippillai, Rob Machin, Tom Myers, Alexander Nakhimovsky,

Luca Passani, Chris Pedley, Richard Taylor and Marco Toschi.

Everything you ever needed to know about me can be found at

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