Developer Manifesto For Responsible Reformatting

By: Roberto Galoppini | 2008-03-26

The recent introduction of reformatting proxies on the networks of Vodafone, Sprint and other carriers has caused a wave of pain for thousands of mobile sites. Apparently, those transcoders have totally spoilt the intended user-experience by adapting the content of already optimized sites.

Taking the Web into our own hands, one computer at a time

The discussion about content reformatting is not new. It was initiated last year by Vodafone UK when they decided to switch millions of WAP users over to a new reformatting proxy, thus causing a strong reaction in the developer community.

An interesting initiative has taken shape in the community of mobile web developers over the past few days.

It appears that operators have been implementing reformatting proxies which (try to) enable users of mobile phones to see shrunk versions of regular websites. Apparently, those reformatting proxies are too aggressive and do not pay enough attention to the needs of mobile developers who invest time and energy to get mobile sites working optimally on mobile devices.

For these reasons, developer have come up with a "Developer Manifesto for Responsible Reformatting" which clearly spells out the rules that reformatting proxies should follow
to preserve the mobile ecosystem.

"It is a question of Net Neutrality", says Luca Passani of WURFL fame, who is driving the initiative.

    A developer has the right to access all the headers that a mobile device has inserted in the HTTP request, without the risk that a proxy hijacks and modifies those headers behind the back of users and content providers.

    We are not asking vendors of reformatting proxy to go out of business. We are just asking them and operators to be good citizens in the mobile ecosystem and respect everyone's right to have a platform to develop on.
Luca and the WURFL Community are raising a very important important issue here, and I wish to express my full support for the Developers' cause against intrusive reformatting proxies.


About the Author: In 2001 started up a small firm specialized in infrastructural solutions based on Open Source software. In 2004 launched the first Italian consortium of Open Source SMEs, becoming its president. Collaborates to academy research on Open Source organizational models and on Open Source meta-districts, keeps rubrics and writes articles on ICT magazines.