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Re: Return of the Mobile Style Sheet

In one of the recent articles on ALAP, a Return of the Mobile Style Sheet is discussed. For a whole lot of reasons, I dont think this would really be going to be a return. Or atleast it will not be a happy camper in the web community.

At least 10% of your visitors access your site over a mobile device. They deserve a good experience (and if you provide one, they'll keep coming back). Converting your multi-column layout to a single, linear flow is a good start. But mobile devices are not created equal, and their disparate handling of CSS is like 1998 all over again. Please your users and tame their devices with handheld style sheets, CSS media queries, and (where necessary) JavaScript or server-side techniques.

Before I jump on to throw dog-pile on this "re-emergence", I would like to say, using handheld media switch in css linking is a very good way to QUICKLY make your site go mobile-friendly. All you have to do is to write up a new css link to your template and vola, your site is right up on iphone, Cool. But will you be willing to leave it to the browser to handle this for you?

Assuming you are of the type who would: lets see, most sites these days are dynamic, either on the server side or on AJAX front. Dynamic here reads not just appearance, data and behaviour too. Pages, most commonly are templated, generated at run time, with lot of data in it. For one thing, It would be easier to maintain a seperate template altogether and switch the content presentation based on user-agent on the server side. More over, sending all the bits over the wire and then NOT showing it just because on the other end it is a small device doesnot make sense. Even Ajaxy things - You would have to write another js and switch it some how to achieve the desired effect. Over all, you are only band-aiding something which needs a total surgery.

Lets say, it is still up for those semantic web vouchers; How will you sell this idea to Google, or Facebook. The case there is further more complex, but even for a simple home page like google's, a user-agent based switch of the template itself on the serverside has been preffered (that is how iphone's safari opens www.google.com). To let users choose the classic version, a link is provided at the bottom. Talk about freedom to choose :)

images from google blogs, infomotions

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