Mobile render bender

Everyone knows the classic arguments against surfing the Web on a PDA or smart phone: the screen is too small and the connection is too slow.The reality is more complex.

Everyone knows the classic arguments against surfing the Web on a PDA or smart phone: the screen is too small and the connection is too slow.

The reality is more complex. 3G networks largely obviate the speed problem, and even GPRS is bearable when it's text rather than pictures that you want.

Site developers can get around the screen real estate issue through careful design -- style sheets, client-specific coding options and an avoidance of frames eliminate most issues.

But that doesn't solve everything. In my recent experiments with a BlackBerry -- part of my ongoing attempts to escape ActiveSync hell -- the biggest problem has been sites that simply won't render at all.

I'm not talking garbled graphics because of dodgy table coding; I'm talking a total inability to get even a page heading on screen.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, database-driven sites have been the biggest offenders.

I can't get into my blog administration tools or the front page of Wikipedia, for instance.

But given that such site structures are hardly in the minority, RIM -- developer of all things BlackBerry -- is going to have to put some serious effort into upgrading its browser if it wants to stay competitive.

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