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WAP Development with WML and WMLScript


  • WAP has captured the attention of industry professionals, trade press, and Wall Street for its ability to support wireless devices and platforms
  • Developing applications for WAP requires a thorough understanding of WAP and its markup language, WML
  • Written by the developers of some of the very first WAP applications created
  • Contains instructions for generating WAP content in ...
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  • WAP has captured the attention of industry professionals, trade press, and Wall Street for its ability to support wireless devices and platforms
  • Developing applications for WAP requires a thorough understanding of WAP and its markup language, WML
  • Written by the developers of some of the very first WAP applications created
  • Contains instructions for generating WAP content in all major languages, including ColdFusion, ASP, Perl, Java, and JSP

In this book you'll learn the best practices, techniques, and tricks from WML and WML Script experts. Apply these real-world applications and hard-earned knowledge to your own skill set to become an efficient and effective WAP developer.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
A practical, hands-on guide for every web developer who wants to wireless-enable a web site -- now or down the road. WAP fundamentals and nuances, scripting with WMLScript, security, alerts, writing for HTML and WML concurrently, porting HTML code to WML, and more -- including a full chapter on "best practices" for wireless web developers. The highlight: complete walkthroughs of four complete wireless web applications.
Introduces the wireless application protocol (WAP), a communications protocol based on HTTP. The book shows HTML developers how to port their sites to WAP, and web application developers how to generate content for wireless devices. Topics include card navigation, wireless markup language (WML), email integration, timers, alerts, and security. The CD-ROM contains sample code and evaluation copies of applications and tools. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780672319464
  • Publisher: Sams
  • Publication date: 9/22/2000
  • Series: Sams Professional Series
  • Edition description: Book and CD-Rom
  • Pages: 586
  • Product dimensions: 7.28 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Ben Forta is a member of WAP Forum, the organization that maintains the WAP/WML specification. He is a recognized authority on Web development and is a frequent lecturer and I columnist. Ben is Allaire Corporation's Product Evangelist and the author of several bestselling books on Internet and application development.

Keith Lauver and Robert M. Juncker are from Minneapolisbased Gearworks, a consulting and development firm that specializes in WAP development.

Paul Fonte is a published author and accomplished developer, who wrote one of the very first phone-based calendaring products.

Ronan Mandel is's Lead Developer Engineer. He lectures frequently on WAP-related topics.

Dylan Bromby is Director of Wireless Strategy for Got Systems Inc., a location-based directory and information services provider. Got is also a member of the WAP Forum.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2: Introducing WML

This chapter introduces Wireless Markup Language (WML) by discussing its origins, functionality, and similarity to other common programming languages you may already know. This chapter also helps you get started developing your own WML code by showing you how to configure your Web server for WML content and how to view that content with several common devices and device emulators. Finally, we'll show you how to determine what kinds of applications are relevant to the special capabilities of WML, while covering basic development concepts, such as syntax and WML's particular card and deck structure.

What Is WML?

Wireless Markup Language (WML) is a markup language used for describing the structure of documents to be delivered to wireless devices. WML is to wireless browsers as HTML is to a browser on a desktop computer. WML was created to address the display, bandwidth, and memory limitations of mobile and wireless devices, such as cellular phones and wireless handheld computers. Because it was designed to run on a variety of devices, WML assumes very little about the device running the application and provides much less control over output formats than you might be used to with HTML.

WML's Origins

In the early 1990s, Unwired Planet created HDML (Handheld Device Markup Language) to serve as the development standard for wireless applications. By June 1997, Unwired Planet had changed its name to and, along with Nokia, Motorola, and Ericsson, launched the WAP Forum-a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and proliferation of a single standard protocol for wireless applications. Using's HDML as the basis for its own standard markup language, the forum created and distributed WML-a language different from, but in many respects similar to, HDML. The WAP Forum and detailed specifications for WML can be found on the Web at http: / /

Although WML will certainly look familiar to Web developers accustomed to HTML, the two languages are really more like cousins than brothers. SGML (Standardized Generalized Markup Language) can really be thought of as the father of both HTML and XML (Extensible Markup Language). HTML is designed to handle a lot of objects, pictures, and other multimedia, which makes it too bulky for the bandwidth limitations of current mobile devices; therefore, HTML was rejected as the basis for WML, which needs a simple architecture that structures data to aid the parsing of a document. That need, and the desire for a language that would survive the demands and fluctuations of turbulent standardization discussions, was the reason that WML was based on XML. By using XML as a base, WML was designed to be a lightweight protocol that would meet bandwidth limitations of existing mobile devices.

WML's Functionality

WML supports six key areas: Text presentation and layout-Although specific devices and WML browsers vary in their output of WML code (very much like output differences between Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer), line breaks, text formatting, and alignment are all supported by WML.

Images-Although WAP-compliant devices are not required to support images, WML supports the Wireless Bitmap (WBMP) image format and image alignment on the screen. Wireless Bitmap is a graphic format created by the WAP Forum which is optimized for mobile devices.

For more on using images in WML, see Chapter 6, "Using Images." User input-WML supports choice lists, multilevel choice lists, text entry, and task controls.

Card and deck organization-User interactions are divided into cards, and navigation occurs between cards. Decks are related sets of cards which constitute a single tile, like a single HTML file. In HTML, viewing one page is akin to viewing one card in WML. However, instead of each HTML page constituting one HTML file, multiple WML cards constitute one WML deck, which is then saved as a single file. Navigation-WAP supports the standard Internet URL naming scheme and anchored links, allowing navigation between cards in a deck, between decks, or between other resources on the network.

State and context management-To maximize network resources, WAP allows for variables to be passed between WML files. Instead of sending a complete string, variables can be sent and substituted at runtime. The user agent can cache both variables and WML files, minimizing cache hits and server requests. It is also possible to pass variables between different cards in the same deck; this is an important way to minimize network usage.

Similarity to HTML and XML

If you are already familiar with HTML, SGML, or XML, you should recognize WML syntax, which is based on XML but is more formally defined than a general XML application...

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Table of Contents



1. Understanding WAP.
Understanding Servers and Gateways. WAP Devices. WAP and WML. Summary.

2. Introducing WML.
What Is WML?
WML's Origins. WML's Functionality. Similarity to HTML and XML.
Getting Started with WML. Configuring Your Web Server.
MIME Types for WML, WMLS, and HDML. Adding the MIME Types to Various Servers.
Phones and Emulators.
Phones. Emulators.
Understanding WML Usage.
Mobile Users.
WML Overview.
Concepts. Syntax Rules. Programming Considerations. WML Components. Summary.

3. Writing for WAP in WML.
Creating Your First Card.
Using Basic Text Formatting. Using Basic Paragraph Formatting.
Building Decks of Cards.
Why Use Decks. Digests.
Using Basic Navigation.
Creating Links. Using Actions. Using Templates.


4. Card Navigation.
Using URLs. Tags Used in Navigation: a, anchor, and go.
The a Element. The anchor Element. The go Element.
Using Phone Buttons and Function Keys.
Soft Keys. Using Actions. The postfield Element. Setting the method Attribute to post. The setvar Element. Creating Soft Keys with the do Element. Creating Intrinsic Events with theonevent Element. Card and Deck Task Overrides.
Navigational History. Summary.

5. Managing Output.
Basic Card Output.
Card Setup. Paragraphs of Text. Formatting Options. Referencing Variables.
Handling Wrapping and Alignment. Line Breaks. Tables. Preformatted Text.
Special Characters. Internationalization.

6. Using Images.
Using Images and Icons. Image Restrictions. Using localsrc Images. Using Images Efficiently.
Using a Splash Screen. Limited Animation. Reusing Images with Cache. Inline Images. Multipart Messages.

7. Working with User Input.
Using Variables.
Naming WML Variables. Substitution. Manipulation.
Free-form Input with input.
Basic Attributes. Formatted Input with input format=.
Restricted Input with select.
select Tag Attributes. option and optgroup Elements.
Under-implemented Input Behavior.
Extended Attributes. Layout with fieldset.
Delivering Data to Applications.
URL Construction. Using the go tag. Sending Data with postfield.


8. Email Integration.
Email and WAP.
Obtaining Email Services.
Integrating Email into Your Applications.
Generating Email with WAP. Receiving Email with WAP.

9. Using WMLScript.
WMLScript Versus JavaScript.
WMLScript Syntax and Conventions. WMLScript Operators. Using Operators.
Using WMLScript Functions.
Local Functions. External Functions. Library Functions.
Using WMLScript Libraries.
Validating User Input. Validating an Email Address.
Sample Applications.
Animation with WMLScript. Currency Converter.

10. Using Timers.
The Timer Element.
The timer Tag Syntax.
Defining a Timer's Action.
A Basic Timer Action with the card Tag. Expanded Timer Actions with the onevent Tag.
Practical Examples of Timers. Summary.

11. Receiving Notifications.
Understanding Basic Notifications.
Alerts. Cache Operations. Content Messages. Multi-part Messages. Push Versus Pull Notifications.
The WAP Forum Push Access Protocol. The Notification Protocol.
Using's Send Notification Tool. Security. Notification APIs.

12. Securing Applications.
Security Basics.
Security Basics. Threat Models.
WAP Security Architecture.
Request Path. WTLS and SSL. Security Certificates.
Session Management.
Client Authentication. Persisting Session.
WML for Secure Applications.
Restricting Access. Cleaning Up.

13. Writing for HTML and WML.
Why Two Languages? How to Write for Both Languages.
Phone Considerations. PC Browser Considerations.
Database-Driven Applications.
Introduction to Employee Directory. HTML Entry Point. Phone Entry Point. HTML-Specific Features. Phone-specific Functionality. Application Conclusions.
Other Languages. Summary.

14. Best Practices.
Design Philosophies.
Working with Limited Bandwidth. Working with Limited Screen Size. Working with Different Devices.
Creating a Usable WAP Application.
Backward Navigation. Menu Items. Limiting Required Input. Building Data Entry Wizards.
Differences in WML Implementations.
Major Differences. Minor Differences.
Differentiating Based on USER_AGENT.
Working with the HTTP_ACCEPT Header. Working with the USER_AGENT Header.


15. Currency Converter.
Currency Converter Design Model. Setting Up the WAP Header. The Home Card.
Setting Up the Soft Keys. The User Interface.
Passing and Storing Rate Information. Displaying the Exchange Results. Processing with WMLScript.
Getting the Exchange Rate. String Conversions. Setting the Result. Support for Cookies.
Complete Code Listings.
Home.wml. Process.wmls.

16. User Directory.
User Directory Design Model. Application Walkthrough.
Changing the WAP Header—home.asp. Dynamic Access—staff-detail.asp. Executing a Phone Call—call.asp. Sending Email—email.asp.
Complete Code Listings.
home.asp. email.asp. call.asp. stafflist.asp. staff-detail.asp. staff.asp. email-action.asp.

17. Scheduling.
Scheduling Application Design Model. Application Walkthrough.
Adding an Appointment. Writing Appointment Data to the Database Using ColdFusion. Viewing Appointments. Displaying Appointment Data.
Complete Code Listings.
main.wml. add.cfm. schedule.cfm.

18. E-Commerce.
E-Commerce Application Overview. E-Commerce Application Walkthrough.
Keeping Track of the Data. Preparing the Header, Data Source, and Session ID. Creating a Login That Tracks the User. Dynamically Generating Product Catalogs. Showing and Storing Dynamic Product Information. Creating a "Checkout" Procedure.
Complete Code Listings.
login.jsp. main.jsp. orderproduct.jsp. addtocart.jsp. checkout.jsp. finishorder.jsp.


Appendix A. Wireless Markup Language Reference.
Wireless Markup Language Reference.
a. access. anchor. b. big. br. card. catch. do. em. exit. fieldset. go. head. i. img. input. link. meta. noop. onevent. optgroup. option. p. postfield. prev. receive. refresh. reset. select. send. setvar. small. spawn. strong. table. td. template. throw. timer. tr. u. wml.

Appendix B. WMLScript Library Reference.
Lang Library.
abort. abs. characterSet. exit. float. isFloat. isInt. max. maxInt. min. minInt. parseFloat. parseInt. random. seed.
Float Library.
ceil. floor. int. maxFloat. minFloat. pow. round. sqrt.
String Library.
charAt. compare. elementAt. elements. find. format. insertAt. isEmpty. length. removeAt. replace. replaceAt. squeeze. subString. toString. trim.
URL Library.
escapeString. getBase. getFragment. getHost. getParameters. getPath. getPort. getQuery. getReferer. getScheme. isValid. loadString. resolve. unescapeString.
WMLBrowser Library.
getCurrentCard. getVar. go. newContext. prev. refresh. setVar.
Dialogs Library.
alert. confirm. prompt.
Debug Library.
closeFile. openFile. printLn.
Console Library.
print. printLn.

Appendix C. Using Device Emulators.
Understanding Emulators. Ericsson WapIDE SDK Browser. Nokia WAP Toolkit.'s UP.Simulator.

Appendix D. Writing WML in Popular Development Tools.
Adobe GoLive. Allaire HomeSite (and ColdFusion Studio). Inetis DotWAP. Macromedia Dreamweaver. WAPTop EasyPad WAPtor.

Appendix E. Writing WML in Popular Development Languages.
Allaire ColdFusion. Microsoft ASP. Perl. PHP. Sun JSP (Java Server Pages).

Appendix F. Local Icons.
Appendix G. CD-ROM Contents.
Device Emulators.
Ericsson WapIDE SDK Browser. Nokia WAP Toolkit. UP.SDK.
WAP Servers. Editors and Layout Tools.
Allaire HomeSite (and ColdFusion Studio). Inetis DotWAP. Macromedia Dreamweaver. WAPDraw. WAPTop EasyPad WAPtor.

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The Internet is changing the way we shop, entertain ourselves, and communicate. As the Internet evolves, multiple distinct media are emerging-the PC, the TV, and now the mobile phone. was instrumental in this evolution by originating the concept of the browser-enabled phone and co-founding the WAP Forum with Ericsson, Nokia, and Motorola in 1997. We continue this tradition of innovation with our dedicated support of the developer community.

WAP presents a major new market opportunity for the Internet community. The number of mobile phones is forecast to exceed 1.4 Billion by 2003. The characteristics of the mobile phone-its portability, "always on" nature, and its location-sensitivity-present a unique application opportunity.

WAP is more than a protocol or a markup language; it is a new "mobile-centric" Internet application platform. As such, there has been a lack of comprehensive developer-oriented material to guide Internet developers through the process of becoming great mobile-centric application designers-not only the basics, but also a true real-world guide to creating great applications.

Whether you are an Internet or intranet developer, WAP Development with WML and WMLScript will serve as an invaluable tool in your exploration of the mobile Internet. This book was written by some of the leading experts in WAP tools and application development, with input from our own experts here at Its real-world approach and hands-on format will greatly benefit anyone interested in developing for this exciting mobile Internet marketplace.

Ben Linder
Vice President,

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