Glenn Butcher

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How Come I Gotta Scroll In My PDA To Read Your Website?

If you add "&template=template-ppc.html" to this page's URL, you'll get the same page in a different format. Here, for those too lazy to cut 'n paste. What you see is a format tailored to PDAs - one column, menu at the bottom of the page. My website software automatically uses this template for Pocket PC Internet Explorer, sensed by parsing the HTTP_USER_AGENT for "Windows CE". Yes, browsers do stupid things with this parameter that makes it non-trivial to use in determining a correct browser, but it's not impossible. If you go to any of the news links at the left (bottom, sorry) that have links to the full reports, you'll find yourself at the host site in a page that is likely formatted for a PC browser, at least 800x600. Foo.

I think one of the reasons PDAs are declining in sales is that the Internet never quite figured out how to accommodate them. Integral WiFi is a very recent thing, and most websites just haven't developed versions to support the smaller format. Well, some have in providing separate links to text versions, but the only website I've found that automatically delivers a PDA page is Google (great folks, great ideas).

Content management systems do a great job at separating format from content, so it isn't hard to extend the concept to browser types. So, here's my appeal...


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