Web Site for PDAs

andreas.com FAQ: PDA Web site

(I wrote this in 2001, when the mobile web was still mostly theory. This was one of the first guides to designing pages for PDAs.) If you have a PDA, you can fetch part of my web site to your PDA. First, you’ll need a web browser for your Palm or Handspring PDA.

Web Browsers for your PDA…

There are several free browsers for PDAs. Palm VII includes a browser as part of its wireless service. For all other PDAs, especially non-wireless PDAs, you can use an offline browser. This lets you fetch web sites when you sync, and then browse and read the websites offline.

  • Avantgo browser and service is free. It’s somewhat like Netscape+Yahoo. They offer both the browser and the directory. AvantGo is developing their browser for all PDAs: Palm/Handspring, Windows, and cell phones. Sign up (free) at Avantgo, install the browser on your PDA, and fetch a few web sites.

Web Sites for Your PDA…

At the moment, the web for PDAs is like 1994: a chaos of competing, incompatible standards. There’s WAP, WML, cHTML, WCA, and so on. Microsoft is trying to figure out how Palm got 89% marketshare. Most of the PDA browsers are poorly designed, some crash every few pages. There are only a handful of web sites at AvantGo’s directory (1,510 in Jan. 2001) (compared to six million business web sites and 1.5 billion web pages for desktop browsers.) It took two or three years for web designers to experiment and come up with the current standard web site design; it’ll take a few years to work out the ideal format for PDA web sites as well.

This means that it’s a great opportunity to get in early and help to determine how things will develop. Missed out on Netscape and the web boom in ’95? Here’s your second chance.

After you’ve installed your PDA browser, use your PDA to visit my PDA web site at www.andreas.com/pda. If you’re using AvantGo, you’ll have to manually add it (see? poor design…)

  1. Log in at Avantgo and at the upper right, click Create Channel.
  2. At title, type: andreas.com
  3. Location (the URL), type http://www.andreas.com/pda
  4. Link Depth, set to 4.
  5. Include Images, click yes.
  6. Follow offsite… you can ignore this.
  7. You can set the refresh as often as you like. At least once a week is fine.

My site covers how to design web sites for PDAs. It’s apparently the only site anywhere on the web that covers PDA web design. This site will grow and change. I’ll also add appropriate content in the next few weeks. I’m also developing two commercial PDA web sites. If you’re using a PDA browser, I’d love to hear your comments and experiences.