Rules for Responsible Reformatting: A Developer Manifesto by Luca Passani

Rules for Ethical Reformatting: A Developer Manifesto by Luca Passani.

A ghost is haunting the mobile web, the ghost of content reformatting. The mobile web has never been a simple platform to develop for, given the fragmentation of the underlying technology: different devices, different browsers and different networks have made mobile web development a challenge for programmers and content authors from the beginning.

Yet, in this hard environment, one thing has stayed sacred throughout the years: the HTTP Protocol.

Until today, developers of mobile websites could count on the fact that the HTTP headers from a mobile device would reach the intended webserver with their integrity respected.

Alas, this basic assumption on which thousands of developers have built their applications is put to the test by a recent trend among Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).

Tools that were originally devised as utilities to split up web pages and deliver a best-effort user-experience on a mobile device are today being marketed as solutions to bring the full web to mobile by reformatting vendors. Some MNOs are buying into this vision and are implementing reformatting proxies into their networks that will intercept and reformat all HTTP traffic to any HTTP server without safeguarding those sites which strive to deliver a mobile-optimised user-experience, or, at least, not safeguarding them sufficiently.

This situation is a threat to the neutrality of the web and one that can jeopardize the mobile web as a platform in the years to come.

To this end, mobile developers of various nationalities and background, assembled on the WMLProgramming list at Yahoo Groups create this manifesto to make their position known in the face of those who try to misrepresent the needs and the wishes of the mobile ecosystem for their own petty monetization needs.

Learn more and consider lending your support: Rules for Ethical Reformatting: A Developer Manifesto by Luca Passani.

–David Harper, Founder & CEO, Winksite

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