This chapter and Chapter 24, “WML/WMLScript Development,” introduce you to wireless
application development using Java servlets and the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP).
WAP is the product of the efforts of the WAP Forum ( http://www.wapforum.org ), an industry
consortium founded by Nokia, Ericsson, Unwired Planet, and Motorola. (Unwired Planet's
name was changed to Phone.com in 1999 and was changed yet again to Openwave after the
merger of Phone.com and Software.com in 2000.) According to the WAP Forum, the goals of
Independent wireless network standard
Open to all
Proposed to the appropriate standards bodies
Scalable across transport options
Scalable across device types
Extensible over time to new networks and transports
WAP content was originally designed to be accessed from wireless phones, but WAP browsers
are now available for Palm-sized devices, pagers, and even standard desktop computers. This
chapter presents the components of the Wireless Application Protocol and the variety of
browsers and development tools that are available to the Java servlets developer. Chapter 24,
will step through the development of a dynamic wireless application using Java servlets and
WAP History: Past, Present, and Future
For such a young technology, WAP has truly had a turbulent history to date. If you will be
developing for mobile devices, it is important first to understand the brief history of WAP and
its direction in the coming years.
The Past: Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML)
In 1995, Unwired Planet introduced the Handheld Device Markup Language, or HDML, in an
attempt to jump-start the market for wireless data access. HDML was essentially a subset of
HTML and it was a minor success.
Unfortunately, HDML had a couple of things going against it from the start. First, it was a pro-
prietary language promoted by one company and supported only by that company's browser
product. Second, no lower-level protocols were defined to support security, interfacing to a
variety of networks, or optimization for wireless devices' tiny screens and low bandwidth. Out
of this initial effort, WAP was born.