The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) is adding to its test harnesses a profile for testing compatibility of web pages for mobile devices.
The new Mobile Test Harness is intended to ensure that features of a web page will render satisfactorily inside the compact footprint of a smart phone or PDA.
As part of release of the specs, the W3C includes a test suite, called mobileOK, which contains the compatibility tests.
mobileOK checks for compliance with W3C mobile web standards in 30 areas. Among the highlights, it checks that XHTML is properly used so the web page doesn’t include features, such as clickable images, that can’t be used on a mobile device because it lacks a pointer.
It also checks for compliance with specs such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) level 1, which omits frills like multi-column layouts that cannot be physically displayed on tiny screens.
It also checks for proper usage of HTTP to ensure that it can take advantage of caching features that minimize back and forth chatter between client and web server.
The idea here is similar to features of Ajax, where the goal is to refresh only the elements of a page that have changed. Additionally, the test harness includes a checker to ensure that text is encoded as Unicode, which supports display of different language character sets.
On the horizon, the W3C is working on mobile browser compatibility tests (the specs and test harness released this week only deal with web pages).
The Mobile Web Test Harness is now in alpha release; the W3C hopes to have beta and then final release by Q1.