WAP vs. J2ME: Which is best for mobile?

By Ana Orubeondo, InfoWorld |  Networking

Tim: I could not agree with you more, Ana, except for the statement that J2ME is not being taken seriously. In fact, if you consider the upcoming 3G (third generation) standard, most vendors are already considering the use and inclusion of the technology. Moreover, once more individuals realize the huge potential that Java can bring not only to their tethered applications but also to those that are wireless, I expect to see an even bigger adoption of the technology.

The only real problem I see with WAP, or more specifically WML (Wireless Markup Language), in the future is that, just like any specialized language or technology, few qualified individuals are or will be available. Here is where Java really stands proud: As long as individuals continue using it, and I would suspect this to be true for some time to come, a constant source of talent will be available.

Tools of the trade

Ana: WAP has been designed to leverage the established Internet infrastructure by taking advantage of investments already made in programming, applications, development tools, and Web servers.

WAP is also closely aligned with existing data networking standards and Internet technologies, including IP and XML, while focusing on the unique requirements of wireless access.

WAP specifications are expected to evolve dramatically over the next few years.

WAP enthusiasts expect that a number of wireless Web sites will program their content directly in HTML/XML in an attempt to eliminate the translation process and proxy server technologies required to support WAP. In fact, most developers of small-footprint microbrowsers will likely offer hybrid WML/HTML products so that others will be able to display either WAP's WML or traditional Internet HTML content. There are four WAP toolkits available for software developers to use in the development of WAP-based services, with Dynamical Systems Research, Ericsson, Nokia, and Phone.com supplying them.

Tim: Although I agree with you that many tools exist for transforming content into WML, including one you didn't mention, IBM's Transcoding Publisher, an even larger number exist for creating J2ME applications. Whether your pleasure is Metrowerks' Code Warrior for Java or Sun's J2ME Wireless Toolkit, chances are high you'll find a tool capable of enabling developers to create feature-rich content and applications based on J2ME.

From a hardware standpoint, device manufacturers, ranging from Nokia to Motorola, are all building J2ME into their next-generation wireless handsets.

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