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Create your own free Personal WAP Site - Part 1

Create your own free Personal WAP Site - Part 1

By Eddie Wong
June 2000

Overview

WAP- is short for Wireless Application Protocol. It is a method of letting a wireless device, usually a mobile phone; view Internet pages, using text only, and very simple black and white pictures. The web site has to be specially designed for the WAP phone, and the pages have to be fairly small as the data speed on mobile phones is a lot slower than on domestic modems. Also, all the phones will have screens of different shapes and sizes, so pages will look different depending on the phone being used.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the building blocks to the normal web pages that exist in cyberspace. Because HTML cannot be read over WAP (and thus, mobile phones), a special language is used to create WAP pages. WML, or Wireless Markup Language, is the language that WAP sites are written in. It is very similar to the HTML language used, as both use TAGS as the fundamental building block to the creation of a page. However, there are some differences, with it being easier to write than HTML, there is no nested tables, have very basic font control, and the pages would have to be quite small so that they do not take ages to download.

Considering the novelty of WAP, there are currently not many sites that provide WAP hosting services, as opposed to hosting a normal web page on the Internet. WAPDrive.net is just one of the very few that offers free WAP hosting services for individuals who would like to try their hand at creating a personal WAP page.

The following is a step-by-step guide to build and create a WAP page.

 


Register free WAP hosting service

 

STEP 1 - Register a free WAP hosting service

Free WAP hosting service is available from WAPDrive. It is a great site with features such as the Basic/Advance WAP page builder, WAP image creator, WAP calendar and WAP address book. The calendar and address book functions can be synced with the Microsoft Outlook 97 and 2000 application, giving users a truly mobile office. 

Users with no programming skills can easily build a WAP page with WAPDrive's Basic WAP page builder. Due to its simplicity, a page can be written in under 10 minutes. Advanced WAP page building is exclusive to and for advanced programmers only. Its advanced functions and commands allows for upload of files, editing and deleting files from the PC.

The WAP image creator is an online drawing tool, which allows for the creation of WBMP files (a special graphic file format for WAP). It has an image library, which users can choose from.

 


WAPDrive's great features

STEP 2 - Download WML developer kit

For non-experienced web programmers, it is recommended that the Basic WAP builder (from WAPDrive) be used. It is possible to write WML code with Microsoft Window's NotePad feature, but it is quite a bothersome process to upload the code and view it before actually being satisfied with it to be published. WML development tool kits such as the WAPtor, Phone.com's UP SDK and the NOKIA WAP Toolkit can be used, as it allows for the preview of code instantaneously, without a direct connection to the hosting server.

 

NOKIA WAP Toolkit - For Professional/Advanced Programmers

The NOKIA WAP Toolkit is the ultimate tool for WAP development. It is available free for download from the NOKIA site. It is supported currently by Windows 95/98/NT4.0 only. Writing, testing, debugging and running the application on a PC-based WAP phone simulator is included in the Toolkit. It simulates the behaviour of WML and WMLScript as well.

A WBMP editor is also included in the Toolkit, which allows the creation of WBMP images, editing of existing images and conversion of GIF and JPEG images into WBMP images and files.

A development guide, WML and WMLScript references are also incorporated in the package.

The only thing that needs to be considered is that a JAVA Applet drives this toolkit. In order to run this application, JAVA runtime environment 1.22 (or later) must be installed before running this Toolkit.

Java Runtime Evvironment 1.22 or later can download from the Sun Microsystems web site at http://www.javasoft.com/j2se/

 

 
NOKIA WAP Toolkit features with WAP Browser simulation

EasyPad WAPtor - For Intermediate Programmers

WAPtor is developed by WAPtop.net, a company that is very active in the development of applications for mobile communications. It is simple to use with its user-friendly environment, and it looks very much like the MS FrontPage, or even MS Word. The necessary header codes are pre-written with every new page that is being developed. Creating links, changing font sizes, inserting images and making tables is as simple as using MS Word, as just with a press of a button on the toolbar, the object of desire will be there. 

The written WML code can be viewed in a preview window that is provided. Debugging has never been easier. However, the simulator does not support WML scripts.

This application can be used on Windows 95/98/2000/NT, and it is available for free download at
iMobile.com.au/download.


EasyPad WAPtor - a user friendly WAP development tool


Phone.com's UP.SDK - A WML Browser 

UP.SDK is a freely available Software Development Kit from Phone.com that enables Web developers to create WML pages. The SDK includes the UP .Simulator which simulates a WAP enabled phone to browse WML programmed pages. The simulator can run applications either on a local machine or when connected to a WAP server via an Internet connection. It runs on either Windows 95/98/NT systems. A complete set of developer documentation, sample files and source codes are also included in the application.

However, the UP.SDK does not provide a code editing facility. The Windows Notepad or other text editor may be used instead. To execute a WML file locally, the ".wml" extension should be included in the address bar (e.g. file://c:\filename.wml), otherwise, the file will not open. WMLScript is not supported in this application package.

Since this development kit has no code editing facility, it is recommended for it to be used as a WAP browser.


 What's WML and WMLScript?

WMLScript

WMLScript is similar to JavaScript or ECMAScript. It was designed to provide general scripting capabilities to the WAP architecture. WMLScript is part of the WAP application layer, and you can use it to add client side procedural logic to WML cards and decks. Specifically, you can use WMLScript to complement WML, which is based on Extensible Markup Language (XML). It was designed for specifying application content for narrowband devices like mobile phones. This content can include text, images, selection lists, and so on. In addition, you can use simple formatting to make the user interfaces more attractive and readable.

Mortage's Payment example :

extern function payment(varname, principal, interest, num_payments) 

var mi = interest/1200; // monthly interest from annual percentage 
var payment = 0;
if (mi != 0) 
{
var tmp = Float.pow((1 + mi), num_payments);
payment = principal * (mi * tmp / (tmp - 1));
}
 else 
{
if (num_payments != 0)
payment = principal / num_payments;
}
var s;
if (payment != 0)
s = String.format("$%6.2f", payment); 
else
s = "Missing data";
WMLBrowser.setVar(varname, s); 
WMLBrowser.refresh(); 
}; 

 

WML

WML is a markup language based on the Extensible Markup Language (XML) and was developed for specifying content and user interface for narrowband devices such as cellular phones and pagers.
WML offers text and image support, and has a variety of formatting and layout commands. WML cards are grouped into decks. A WML deck is similar to an HTML page in that it is identified by an URL and is the unit of content transmission. WML offers support for managing navigation between cards and decks, and includes commands for event handling. These can be used for navigating or executing scripts.

A Welcome page example :

<wml>
<card id="card1" title="Toolkit Demo">
<p>
Welcome to a Demonstration of Nokia's<br/>
Wireless Application Protocol<br/>
Toolkit!
</p>
</card>
</wml>


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