1

Basics of WML

 

 

There are a few assumptions that we must make before we go ahead. The first is that you would like to make a difference to the world. We assume that you are some genius who has the next best solution to the world economic crises. We also assume that your word will be law, as soon as you have spoken it. And finally, we assume that perhaps, you may want to learn to use and write programs in WML. We are of course, assuming that you know WML stands for Wireless Markup Language.

 

Please do not ask us to explain why a language should be known as wireless. We tried finding an answer to this. But after searching and researching 3,721 languages, we concluded that all languages come without wires. We can only therefore assume that the people who first wrote this language started doing so with wires. Later, when they ran out of wire, they used words and signs to communicate. And having found this much easier, they stuck with it. We also figured it was known as a markup language, simply because each time someone added a new word in, the whole language was 'marked' up in price and status. It was more refined and a cut above the rest. Only dim-witted people would use older languages. (And this still happens today even though an older language could be more effective and simpler to use.)

 

Seriously though, we do assume that you already know how to compile and run the smallest WML program using the Nokia Toolkit, we would like to start from the very beginning.

 

This chapter covers the basics of WML using the Nokia Toolkit ver 2.1. The toolkit can be downloaded off the Nokia site. The approx. size is 16.7 MB. Alongwith the Toolkit, we want you to download the simulators, you can choose between the 7110 or 6210 simulator. These files are 3.3 MB and 7 MB large respectively. Since many of you will be working alone, we have included a generous helping of screenshots so that you can keep pace with us. We started experimenting with WML and WMLScript using the Toolkit ver 1.5 and Nokia 6150 simulator, which were bundled in one. We will show you a few screens from Toolkit ver 1.5 here which differ from the current toolkit as they helped us understand many concepts in greater detail. By default, we will display the screens captured from device 6210; even though Blueprint is a better choice. So put on your shoes and start walking for we are going to take you on a journey through the wireless world.

 

Logon to the Nokia site, register yourself and download the Toolkit and the simulators. Install them on you computer, first the Toolkit and then the 6210simulator. Once done, you will see a Program Group by the name of Nokia Wap Toolkit. Select WAP Toolkit as shown in Fig 1.1.

 

Screen 1. 1

 

This will launch the toolkit written in the Java Programming Language and display the initial screen as shown in Fig 1.2 and Fig 1.3. Since it is a Java program, have your display configured to 256 colors or else you will see your program crash.

 

Screen 1. 2

Screen 1. 3

 

Once the Toolkit is loaded, you will be greeted with two windows, one is the editor and the other is the Blueprint of a Mobile phone.

 

As we have downloaded and installed the 6210Simulator, we will make it the current device to operate on. To do so, select the menu options as shown in Fig 1.4

 

Screen 1. 5

Screen 1. 4

 

 

 

Notice the change in the mobile window. You may see the mobile as we have shown you or it may be a bigger device.

 

We will now change the settings of this device to our own computer, so follow the screens from Fig 1.6 to Fig 1.9

 

Screen 1. 6

 

 

When you come to the Profile box, the option of Wap Server Simulation is already selected. When you click on the triangular button, some more options are displayed.

 

Screen 1. 7

Screen 1. 8

 

Screen 1. 9

 

The WAP gateway program receives and verifies the content received from the WAP browser whereas Homepage refers to the web page that the browser should pickup when it starts on. Since we are not going to access any site while experimenting with code, we create our own profile where the gateway and homepage point to our local harddisk. In case you have any web server installed on your computer, like in our case, we have the Apache web server installed, the default page of this server gets displayed on the mobile screen.

 

Now let's start by creating a new wml file. Click on File - New - WML Deck.

 

A window opens up displaying a program written by Nokia. This is shown in Fig 1.10 and Fig 1.11.

 

Screen 1. 10

Screen 1. 11

 

As you go through this book, you will find that the development environment has many features built in to simplify the task ahead. And while this is real cool, it does not really help you understand what goes on behind the scenes. Our mission is to ensure that you learn while reading this book.

 

Since we will be writing our own program, we select the Nokia written text and delete it. We start with an empty screen as shown in Fig 1.12.

 

Screen 1. 12

Screen 1. 13

 

Click on the Compile button and you will be prompted for a name. This is shown in Fig 1.13

 

As usual, we recommend that you follow the more unconventional approach, which will make it easier for you to locate the file later. The concept of LongFileNamesThatClearlyDefineWhatTheFileis really does not make sense in the long run, especially when you have a few zillion small programs.

 

Our naming convention makes it easy for many students and staff to locate the file they want quickly. No complications and no searching. In all the chapters, we have the filename as a11.wml. It is very simple to locate this file as it is the first file in the list. Simple?

 

If you look at your screen and Fig 1.14, you will find an error box which has an extremely cryptic message. It doesn't make sense.

 

Screen 1. 14

 

In the Nokia Toolkit ver 1.5 we had an option of Preferences under the Toolkit menuoption. On clicking the second tab - Encoding and unchecking Use Fast Encoding, we could see error messages that made sense, or more English-Like. Alas this option is not present any more in the newer versions.

 

Screen 1. 15

Screen 1. 16

 

The error messages we received in Toolkit ver 1.5 are as shown below.

 

Screen 1. 17

 

Screen 1. 18

 

This goes to prove that every deck must begin with an XML instruction and should also contain a Document Type Definition

 

A markup language - WML - is not a full fledged programming language. It is an English-like language and performs two jobs. Firstly, it displays output in a browser. Here, the browser is the mobile phones screen, usually called a micro-browser but we will refer to it as the User-Agent or UA. After all, you must remember that you are learning something new in computers. And one of the primary rules of becoming a good computer person is to use as many acronyms as possible. This ensures that anyone else who is not a computer crazy nutcase looks at you in awe. The second job is to provide a user-interface to bring in interactivity with the browser.

 

Markup languages have to follow some rules, regulations, -policies that define the keywords you can use and the options within them

 

To put it simply, a markup language sets the rules that will be adhered to by another language, eventually becoming a sub-set of it. XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is a good example of this. It has many functions and we list them in order of priority. XML is used 1) to change the color of the sky using a 16 million color palette, 2) to promote world peace in 7,355,291,583 languages and dialects, 3) to eradicate poverty, 4) to tell you how intelligent Vijay Mukhi is, and 5) the least important one: to let you write other markup languages.

 

WML is a markup language that has been written in XML, hence it follows the rules of XML. Other than this resemblance, WML has nothing to do with XML.

 

Following the first rule of XML, every document in XML should start with a < sign, followed by a ?. Then you write xml leave a space and end it with version="1.0" ?>. You ought to follow these rules or else programs wont work.

 

You could also sit down and write a long letter about the stupidity of such a rule as we are still stuck with version 1.0 for ages, but we recommend that you don't. For after you finish this book, you will have joined the group of computer geniuses, and what ever a genius says is right. No matter how stupid. So just imagine that power you will have shortly and go along. If you would still like to do so, then find some of the many sites on the Internet that are devoted to XML and argue with them. You could also find out at that point when, if ever, will there be a version 2, or if there will even be a version 1.1 or 1.0.0.1a. Write the xml instruction in your program. This is shown below.

 

Screen 1. 19

 

Henceforth we will not show you the editor with the program but instead will give you the program code as

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

 

HTML, which is what the Internet is written in (colloquially), has been written using XML. This is why many Internet experts believe that XML will change the way one works on the Internet.

 

In future, XML will be used to write other Internet compatible markup languages.

 

Anything that begins with a <? is a processing instruction. Every micro browser looks at this line hence it is mandatory. This processing instruction line has to be placed on the first line.

 

Click on the Compile option and you will now get another error, a different one. This is shown in Fig 1.20.

 

Screen 1. 20

 

And it is only by failing that you will succeed. That is, if you remember every one of the errors you made. Most guys don't anyways, which is why their girls get mad.

 

The error appears because the micro browser expects the second line to have a DTD. The second line has to start with a <! and not <?. The word DOCTYPE has to follow the ! sign. Enter the following lines and then compile it to see one more error.

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

 

Screen 1. 21

 

After DOCTYPE we have wml. Wml is the document root. This implies that the first tag (a word enclosed within a < and a > sign) in your file should be wml i.e. <wml>;

 

A document root is the starting point of a file. So our entire wml file will be within the <wml> tag. We then have PUBLIC followed by some characters. You can write any text here, we could have given vijay as shown below.

 

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "vijay" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

 

DOCTYPE and DTD both have a similar meaning. DTD stands for Document Type Definition. The DTD is the heart and soul of XML. It is the DTD that forms the basis of other markup languages and it is a major part of XML It specifies the rules describing what a markup language should look like and what constraints it operates under. Words that come after PUBLIC inform the user agent about the site address or the location of the DTD. The UA locates it, reads it and the rest of the document follows the rules mentioned therein. In one of the chapters we will write our own DTD.

 

Vijay is called the public identifier and it refers to the location of the DTD. Most books would explain DTD 500 pages towards the end, but we prefer to do it now. If, for example, we write vijay, the browser or user agent may not know what vijay is. It may not know the server address on which it resides. Hence, the next word following vijay is a url - site address. If the PUBLIC identifier, vijay, is not recognized, the DTD will be picked up from the specified site on the Internet.

 

Usually, it is the WAP forum site that is responsible for all of WAP. This file wml_1.1.xml can be downloaded to your local directory.

 

We repeat ourselves, we get an error because we haven't started the document with the root element. It expects wml within angle brackets in the document

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

 

You will see another error. Wml has to follow the rules of XML and the rules say that every element must have a start and an end. If you start with a tag, then you must end it. To end wml, put wml within <>, that is <wml>, but this time add a slash before the wml, like </wml>.

 

Screen 1. 22

 

This end tag was missing therefore an error was reported. If you had been an HTML programmer, you would curse this language as HTML is not so finicky.

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

</wml>

 

In theory, this should be the smallest program you could write. However, it is not. After all, everybody born has some intelligence. And the guys who wrote the DTD felt that even in WML, one should have at least one element to make it an intelligent language.

 

Hence you see the error.

 

Screen 1. 23

 

We therefore add card as an element. Card is taken to be an element tag within wml.

 

With the addition of card to the last program, you now finally have the smallest program that can be written because it follows the rules of DTD. It shows no errors

.

Screen 1. 24

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

</card>

</wml>

 

 

 

 

If you have been following all that we have done so far, you will have understood by now that we are offering you two courses simultaneously. Not only are you learning WML, but you are also learning XML as well.

 

If you now click on the Show button which is next to the Compile button you will see a blank screen. Nope, not the computer screen, but the screen on the mobile phone Fig 1.24. Gosh! Do we have to explain everything to you?

 

Well, that's just great! After all that you keyed in, and everything else you did to write your first error-free program, nothing happens!

 

Let's add the word Hell between <card> and </card>.

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

Hell

</card>

</wml>

 

If you try compiling this, you will get an error as displayed in Fig 1.25. Hell is just the right place where you would like to send the guys who wrote XML. But forget your anger for just a while, and try to understand what this is all about.

 

Screen 1. 25

 

The error is because of the DTD. The DTD or syntax of WML state that character data (text) cannot be placed between <card> and </card>. So who are we to argue? We'll simply use another tag called <p> or paragraph. The paragraph tag <p>... </p> amongst many other things allows you to put text within it. Remember that <...> starts and </...> ends the tag.

 

Screen 1. 26

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>

Hell

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

In case you have a small screen and would like to resize it, you can do so by selecting the Device Settings menuoption in Toolkit. Click on the Appearance tab and select one of the options.

 

Screen 1. 28

Screen 1. 27

 

 

You could do more than one paragraph at a time, depending upon what text you would like to display, and the points that you may want to make. We've only used two, but don't let this stop you. Only thing that you may have to bear in mind is the size of the display screen, which on a mobile phone is not really large.

 

Screen 1. 29

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>

Hell

</p>

<p>

Bye

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

The Hell and Bye come on two different lines. The <p> tag stands for paragraph break in HTML.

 

Now that you know you can have multiple <p> tags, lets go a step further. We now say Hell and then Bye. If you notice between the Hell and the Bye, there are many spaces. This has been done to prove a point. Again, press Enter and write No on a new line as in the following program.

Screen 1. 30

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>

Hell Bye

No

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

Click on Compile and then Show. You will observe that Nokia not only has eaten up all the spaces that were between Hell and Bye but has also swallowed the Enter that defined a new line. No is displayed on the same line as Hell and Bye.

 

If you think this is some sort of mistake, then separate the Bye and No with as many Enters as you like and re-compile. You will see the same result.

 

How do you get to a new line then? Well, you already know of one way - using separate <p> tags. But this can be rather taxing. You can get about the same result by using the <br> tag. Remember, that all good things come in pairs, so you will have to add a </br> right after the <br> tag as there will be nothing between the two. Try this out, as in the program you see below and No will move to a new line.

Screen 1. 31

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>

Hell Bye <br></br>

No

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

Like br, you will find many tags which have no content within them. And as in this case, it would therefore make sense to simply use the <p> tag again because you would be keying in less. Using the p tag youd key in a total of 6 characters, while with the br tag in the way it is used, you need to key in 8. A simpler way of using tag that have nothing between them is to place the slash at the end of the first tag. In place of <br> and </br>, you enter <br/>.

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>

Hell Bye <br/>

No

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

A / at the end is a better way of representing elements that have no content. An element can either have a start and an end tag or a single tag with a / at the end to indicate no content.

 

A mobile screen can display 3 lines or maybe 4 lines, or a maximum of six lines. A pager has even less area. The Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) may have a lot more lines, so how do you fit all this in? In the next example, we have added 6 lines to show you that you can scroll. How do you see a scroll? Some devices may show you a curly arrow at the top of the display screen.

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card><p>

Hell how <br/> bye <br/> no <br/> good <br/> hell <br/> <br/> bad

</p>

</card>

</wml>

Screen 1. 32

Screen 1. 33

 

You can use the up and the down arrow keys to scroll. Of course, you understand that you need not restrict yourself to just 6 six lines. It could be much more. Do remember, that if you have too much to scroll through you may forget what you started with.

 

It is now time to make things look a little pretty. We have got past a simple display, and there is a good deal more that we can do to highlight the text in the display. WML has got tags for bold, italic, underline, emphasis, strong, small and big which perform this job.

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>

<b> Bold </b> <br/>

<i> Italics </i> <br/>

<u> Underline </u> <br/>

<em> Em </em> <br/>

<strong> Strong </strong> <br/>

<small> Small </small> <br/>

<big> Big </big> <br/>

</p>

</card>

</wml>

Screen 1. 34

Screen 1. 35

This feature was enabled in Nokia 6150 and then disabled in 6210 and 7110. It is now again enabled in 9110i series If you really need to check on these features, you can change you default device to Blueprint.

 

Rule one in the mobile display game, is what you see is not what you get. This is not because there is no standardisation of the language, but more because different service providers interpret in conjunction with their own hardware.

 

There is no rule defining the size of a small, big or a strong display because certain devices may just not be able to display it. Nokia 6210 shows no change in output. It is not specified by WAP nor by the WML specification. What is defined, are the tags and the elements. Here we are first focusing on Nokia screens. Once you understand the workings of one product, then shifting onto the other will not be difficult.

 

In the next example the <p> tag has got a word called align.

 

Screen 1. 36

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p align="left">

No

</p>

<p align="center">

Hi

</p>

<p align="right">

Bye

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

The word align here is an attribute and it can be applied to an element tag. Elements have attributes in their start tags and they are assigned values. Align has a value of left. An empty tag can also have an attribute.

 

An attribute basically is a qualifier. It is very different from the content because the content is within the open tag and close tag. The attribute qualifies or better defines the element. For example, within the p tag there is text. We may want to align this text either towards the left, right or centre. This is what we have demonstrated in the example above.

 

The align attribute is optional, you will see no errors if its not used. The default value is left. Every new p tag automatically sets align to the left. There are other tags where the attributes have to be stated. Align can have only three values, left, right or center. It cannot take any more values. (Please do remember also that the computers often understand only American, and not English, so centre is center when it comes to the attribute.)

 

If you have a lot of text written on one line, it will automatically move on the next line. This is because the default mode is wrap. But if you set the mode="nowrap", it will not wrap around. The browser or the user agent will provide the user with an option to scroll left or right. This feature is disabled in the new devices.

Screen 1. 37

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p mode="wrap">

Hi how are you i am fine

</p>

<p mode="nowrap">

Hi how are you i am fine

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

There are many more attributes that <p> tag can take. We have only shown you two so far. We move on to the next program. Here we will show you how to display text in a table.

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?> <!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>Hi

<table title="bye" >

<tr></tr>

</table></p>

</card>

</wml>

 

Screen 1. 38

 

Tr stands for table row. The column attribute is most important because there is no point creating a table that has rows but no columns. The error confirms this point. In the next program, we have used a tag called table. Set the title to bye and define two columns using td.

Screen 1. 39

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>Hi

<table title="bye" columns="2">

<tr><td>aa</td><td>bbbb</td></tr>

</table>

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

When you click on Show, the title doesn't get displayed. Which means that even though title is given, the Nokia phone may decide not to show the title but some other devices may show it. Where our title is displayed, only God knows.

 

When defining attributes, it does not matter which one comes first as long as you satisfy all the requirements of the tag. If you miss something out you will get an error.

 

Even though the column attribute is to be given a number, you do not enter it in as a number 2. It is always placed in double quotes. All attributes, whether they are numbers or letters of the alphabet or anything, are always placed between a pair of double quotes.

 

We first use the tag <table> and if you notice there is a </table>. Spaces do not matter. We now have something called <tr>. Tr means table row. A </tr> means end of table row. Tr starts and ends a row. The tags <tr> and </tr> cannot be used with any other tag than in a table definition.

 

A row contains columns. But we do not have a tc here for a table column. The column delimiter in this case is td. A </td> ends the column. In the first column we enter aa; the second column will have bbbb. The column width depends on the size of the column text. The first one is two bytes and the next one is four bytes. At this point, we cannot change the width of every column. It is the text that decides this.

 

In the next program, we have given two rows.

Screen 1. 40

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>

Hi

<table title="bye" columns="2" align="right">

<tr><td>aa</td><td>bbbb</td></tr>

<tr><td>c</td><td>dd</td></tr>

</table>

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

There is only a small difference. The first row remains the same and in the second row we have added c to the first column and then dd in the second. We now have 2 rows and 2 columns. The largest column becomes the width of the column. Even though we have said align=right, it doesn't work here.

 

It is also possible to enter null values in a cell. That is to say, if you enter a <td> </td>, it is allowed. The third row has a blank column

Screen 1. 41

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>

<table title="bye" columns="2" align="right">

<tr><td>aa</td><td>bbbb</td></tr>

<tr><td>c</td><td>dd</td></tr>

<tr><td/></tr>

<tr><td></td><td>dd</td><td>e</td><td>f ff</td></tr>

</table>

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

This means that in a table you can have a null column and a null row. It also means that null columns and null rows are counted. Null means there is no text there, but it still has a value as far as the program is concerned. In the fourth row, instead of two columns you add 4 tds, the first two columns will be displayed properly, but the remaining ones will be deleted. The first row decides on the no. of columns. The Blueprint device will show you a different result.

 

You cannot specify the width of a column, nor can you specify the inter-column width. Multiple spaces between the words are automatically removed.

Screen 1. 42

 

a11.wml

<?xml version="1.0"?> <!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC "-//

WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN" "http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml">

<wml>

<card>

<p>

<table title="bye" columns="2" align="right">

<tr><td>aa</td><td>bbbb</td></tr>

<tr><td>cc</td><td>f<br/>ff</td></tr>

</table>

</p>

</card>

</wml>

 

If you want you can add a br within a column, and it will display the remainder text on a new line. This is not seen in the current device but is clearly visible with Blueprint.