Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Testing Web Pages for Mobile Devices and Handhelds

All I can say is Thank God for Parallel WorkStations... it turns out that most handheld device simulators only work on Windows. But I'm starting at the end.

Suppose you want to look at your Web site with a mobile device. First, I suggest pulling out your telephone. Most telephones these days do support XHTML (and also HTML, though they don't admit it readily) and CSS. WML is on the decline.

Once you've gotten over the shock of seeing your page shoehorned into that tiny telephone screen (well, mine's tiny anyway), you might want to see it in other handheld browsers. There are lots and lots but here are some links to get you started.

Openwave's handheld browser, according to Wikipedia, "has shipped on over one billion handsets, approx 49% of the global browser-capable device shipments". That's a lot of phones. Openwave's simulator is the easiest to get up and running. You can find it at developer.openwave.com. It only runs on Windows. You can type your URL in the Go box and hit enter to go there instead of plodding along with the number keys. (It's a good idea to know how much of a pain it is to get to certain sites, but when you're testing, you only really need to do that a few times before you get the message loud and clear.)

Nokia's phone simulators are a pain to install, because there are lots of bits and pieces, including the Nokia Mobile Gateway (NMG), Nokia Mobile Browser Simulator, Nokia Update Manager, Nokia Connectivity Framework, and Nokia Mobile Internet Toolkit (NMIT). You can find them all at www.forum.nokia.com. Nokia's stuff only works on Windows as well... and they demand a zillion-digit serial code number (free, thankfully) that I had to transfer laboriously for each of the components from my other Mac where my email is... Ugh!

The easiest software to use is that from Opera (www.opera.com). It turns out that Opera is one of the leading developers of mobile browsers. To facilitate testing Web sites for mobile devices they have a clever option on their desktop browsers. Choose View > Small Screen from a desktop version of Opera and it will show you what its Mobile Opera would show.

And what would it show? Well, if you haven't created a handheld style sheet for your Web page, it will adapt your site on the fly for the small screen. If you have created (and linked) a handheld style sheet for your Web page, it will use that.

Opera's new Mini mobile software is pretty cool too. I was able to download it to my very average telephone (whose model number eludes me) and it's pretty good at adapting pages to my weeny screen. You can emulate the Mini mobile software with a Java application that Opera has published on the Web. It is tiresome to type with number keys! Click the hash symbol (#) to get to the lowercase letters--otherwise you'll never get to your site (unless, it too is in all caps). Since I haven't figured out how to backspace, I'm very careful not to make any typos... if you know, drop me a line! I did figure out how to Refresh the Opera Mini simulator... when you've finally gotten to your Web site, click the Menu button (top left) and then use the arrow buttons to get down to Tools, and then choose Reload. Yee-ha!

I also admit to creating entry pages with very short names in the top level of my domain with links to the pages I'm testing. I just can't be bothered to push that many number keys!

1 comment:

Naseem said...

Your article is useful. I need one clarification. Can we automate the testing of web pages on various mobiles because even if use emulators we needs to test all the scenarios manually.

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