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CSC's WAP Terms
Glossary of Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) terms



API: An acronym for Applications Programming Interface. The core set of facilities made available to the developer/programmer for writing applications, e.g. system functions and procedures for manipulating information etc.  

ASP: ASP is an acronym for Active Server Pages, a Microsoft programming technology that facilitiates dynamic content and database integration. ASP is a server-side technology that is used on many thousands of web sites. It can be used to create WAP-based applications that need to create content on-the-fly.  

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Broadband phone: A third generation (G3) mobile phone that has much higher speed access. ETA is 2002.

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cHTML: cHTML, or compact HTML is a language used to code content in wireless devices, and is used by the popular I-Mode system. I-Mode is NTT DoCoMo's Internet connection service for mobile phones, and is widely used in Japan, where it has attained some 10 million subscribers. I-Mode's cHTML is like HTML 1.0, and is a WML alternative, offering more flexibility and greater features (although it is does not yet use any mature HTML features).

ColdFusion: ColdFusion is an ODBC compliant database integration tool, with its own tag language (CFML) and scripting language (CFMLScript). ColdFusion can be used to write dynamic Web and WAP applications that can serve content on-the-fly. ColdFusion is developed by Allaire.

Cookies: A cookie is a small piece of information stored in memory or on disk. Cookies can be set by client and server-side applications, and are often used as a convenience function, for example to remember a users site-login credentials, or to auto-fill a form etc.

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DSN: A Data Source Name is a piece of information that links an embedded database query to a specific database on a server. DSNs are stored in files on the users host server. DSNs are not always required; ASP allows "DSN-less" connections for example, which are extremely helpful because DSNs must be set up by the server administrator. An unresponsive ISP can therefore delay the activiation of your database if the DSN is not in place.

DTD: Acronym for Document Type Definition. A DTD definition states which elements can be nested within others, and acts as a rule-set, defining the names and contents of all elements that are allowed within a document, their order and quantity etc.

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ECMA: ECMA is an international, Europe-based industry association founded in 1961 and dedicated to the standardization of information and communication systems.

ECMAScript is an attempt to standardize the JavaScript and Jscript (Microsoft) scripting language technologies that are used extensively in both client- and server-side environments. ECMA is a standards setting body, based in Switzerland.

Element: An element specifies the markup and structural information inside a WML deck. Some elements are termed containers, in that they have start and end tags such as the <p> and </p> (paragraph) tags, whilst others exist by themselves e.g. the <br/> (line break) tag.

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An acronym for Global System for Mobile Communication. GSM is name of the standard around which nearly all mobile networks currently operate. GSM is to be replaced by UMTS sometime in 2002.

GPRS is an acronym for General Packet Radio Service, a packet-based wireless communication service that brings data rates from 56 up to 114 Kbps, and continuous connection to the Internet (termed as an "always-on mode") for mobile phone and computer users. The higher data rates offered by GPRS will allow users to participate in video conferences and access multimedia web content. GPRS is based on Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication and will complement existing services such circuit-switched cellular phone connections and the Short Message Service (SMS). GPRS is not a replacement for WAP, since GPRS is a transport-level protocol, whereas WAP is concerned with data, security and mark-up of mobile content taken from the Internet. GPRS is associated with the third generation (3G) mobile phones, many of which are expected to arrive on the market in Q4 2000. GPRS trials are already taking place and the technology is expected to become dominant.

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HDML (Handheld Devices Markup Language) - now called the Wireless Markup Language (WML) - is a language that allows portions of HTML to be presented on cellular mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) via wireless access. Developed by Unwired Planet, HDML amd WML are now open languages.

Acronym for HyperText Mark-up Language. A tag-based language of elements that perform mark-up (appearance) operations on text within a document.

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the set of rules for exchanging files (text, graphic images, sound, video, and other multimedia files) on the World Wide Web. Relative to the TCP/IP suite of protocols (which are the basis for the exchange of all data on the Internet), HTTP is an application-based protocol.

HTTP Header
Information sent back by a HTTP web server, including details such as UA and cookies, etc.

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An acronym for Internet Information Server, Microsoft's web server product. IIS is a popular industry strength web server, supporting technologies such as ASP, VBScript and JScript.

An acronym for Internet Service Provider, a company that primarily offers Internet access (and other services) to consumers.

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A scripting language technology used in the main web browsers (Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer) as a client-side technology, and also as a server-side integration tool. Microsoft's alternative is termed JScript, and is ECMAScript compliant. WMLScript is similar to JavaScript in terms of syntax, although with a different object model (since the web browser and WAP device environments differ widely).

JScript is Microsoft's JavaScript implementation, and is fully ECMAScript compliant. JScript can be used as a client and server-side development language, and can be integrated with other Microsoft technologies such as ASP.

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A term reffering to Mobile Commerce, a hybrid of e-commerce. Mobile commerce is effectively the ability to conduct monetary transactions via a mobile device, such as a WAP enabled cell phone. M-commerce is seen as the Holy Grail of the wireless device market.

An acronym, first used by Forrester Research, standing for Mobile Internet Provider. MIPS are analagous to ISPs, although they are dedicated to providing wireless services. Some ISPs will merge with MIPs to provide both web and wireless web services.

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Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) is a standard or open application programming interface (API) for accessing a database. Through using ODBC statements in a program one can access files in a number of different formats, including Access, dBase, Excel, and delimited text. A separate ODBC driver is required for each vendors database, and a variety of pre-written drivers are available. ODBC is based upon the Open Group standard known as Structured Query Language (or SQL) Call-Level Interface (CLI), which allows applications to use SQL queries that access databases without having to know the proprietary interfaces to those databases. ODBC provides a "mapping" function, taking the SQL request and converting it into a request for data that the individual database system understands.

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A hypertext processsing tool, with ODBC database integration features. PHP is an open source tool, and is widely used on the Internet. It is similar in operation to tools such as ASP and ColdFusion. More information on PHP (plus download) can be found online at http://www.php.net.

An acronym for Personal Digital Assistant. A hand-held device such as the Palm Pilot. WAP works with a range of mobile devices, and not just cell phones.

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An acronym for System Development Kit. SDKs are available from many mobile operators, such as Nokia and Ericsson. They facilitate the development of applications for wireless devices, using technologies such as WML and WMLScript etc.

A simulator is a term used to describe a WAP device implemented in software, and as such is not a physical device, like a mobile phone for example. Simulators arrive as part of many SDKs and allow for local WAP development, saving time spent on air with a real WAP device in order to test WAP applications. Simulators can also be used with online content, connecting directly to a given website using HTTP.

An acronym for Standardised Generalised Markup Language, the standard out of which HTML was borne.

An acronym for Short Message Service. A messaging service supported by many mobile phones that allows short text messages, typically in the region of 120 characters, to be sent between mobile devices. SMS can be used to configure WAP phones and to send icons (bitmaps) to phones. SMS is not an interactive protocol, like WAP, which allows interactions with web-based content (using the HTTP protocol).

An acronym for Structured Query Language, a standard way of accessing and updating information in a database. SQL is database-independent, and uses ODBC to allow it to be used across a variety of different database environments. Many programming environments support SQL, such as ColdFusion and ASP, amongst many others.

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TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) is a method (or protocol) used in conjunction with the Internet Protocol (IP) to send data in the form of message units (datagrams, or packets) between computers over the Internet. Whilst IP takes care of handling the actual delivery of the data, TCP takes care of keeping track of the individual units of data that a message is divided into for efficient routing through the Internet. TCP is known as a connection-oriented protocol, which means that a connection is established and maintained until such time as the message or messages to be exchanged by the application programs at each end have been properly exchanged.

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Acronym for User Agent. A user agent is another name for a WAP device, or web browser, that interprets content coded in formats such as WML, WMLScript, HTML etc. WAP device and microbrowser are other terms for a UA.

UDP (User Datagram Protocol) is a communications method (protocol) that offers a limited amount of service when messages are exchanged between computers in a network that uses the Internet Protocol (IP). UDP is an alternative to the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). Like TCP, UDP uses the Internet Protocol (IP) to actually get a data unit (called a datagram, or packet) from one computer to another. Unlike TCP, however, UDP does not provide the service of dividing a message into packets (or datagrams) and reassembling it at the other end, hence the term connectionless.

UMTS, or Universal Mobile Telephone System is the name of a new mobile networking standard that will replace GSM sometime in 2002. UMTS has data speeds many hundreds of times faster than GSM and will bring a true multimedia experience to mobile phones (much faster than the GPRS system that will arrive before UMTS).

An acronym for Uniform Resource Locator. URLs are addresses of web- and WML-based based resources, and can refer to static pages and to applications (scripts). URLs can load both local and remote content, and are made up of a service type, a hostname, and an optional pathname. For example, http://www.cscdevelopment.com is a URL that uses the HTTP protocol service type with the hostname www.cscdevelopment.com. A path to a particular file has not been used since it is implied in this instance (the server will default to an index page). Alternatively, we could have specified the URL http://www.cscdevelopment.com/index.cfm, which now requests that the file index.cfm is to be retrieved. Each '/' character after the hostname indicates a new level in the directory hierarchy of that hosts file-system.

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VBScript is a Microsoft scripting (development language) technology that is based on Microsoft's highly successful Visual Basic language. VBScript can be used in the client, and on the server. See also JavaScript, JScript, and ECMAScript

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Acronym for the World Wide Web Consortium, the Web's main standard setting body. See http://www.w3c.org.

An acronym for Wireless Application Environment. Specified by the WAP Forum, the Wireless Application Environment specifies a general-purpose application environment based fundamentally on Web technologies, and specifies an environment which allows operators and service providers to build applications that can reach a wide variety of different wireless platforms. WAE is part of the WAP standard.

WAP is the Wireless Application Protocol. A specification for a set of communication protocols to standardize the way that wireless devices, such as cellular mobile telephones, PDAs, etc, can be used for Internet-based access. WAP was conceived by four companies, namely: Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola, and Unwired Planet (now Phone.com). WAPs protocol layers are as follows:

  • Wireless Application Environment (WAE)
  • Wireless Session Layer (WSL)
  • Wireless Transport Layer Security (WTLS)
  • Wireless Transport Layer (WTP)

WAP Device
A WAP device is any device (e.g. mobile phone, PDA, or simulator) which allows access to wireless (WML) content.

WAP Gateway
A WAP gateway is a two-way device, with the WAP device on one side, and the web server on the other. The task of the WAP gateway is to convert content into that suitable for a WAP device. On the web server's side the gateway can provide additional information about the WAP device through items such as HTTP headers.

WAP Server
This term is used in different contexts, by different mobile operators. Essentially, a WAP server is analagous to a web server, e.g. a machine that serves web content according to the HTTP protocol. Most WAP servers are HTTP servers. Some mobile operators have WAP servers that also have a gateway facility as well, notably Nokia's WAP server, allowing the serving of web content, and the serving of WML. WML content is tokenised into an internal format before delivery to a WAP device, a process which is handled inside the WAP server (in the WAP gateway).

Acronym for Wireless Applications Service Provider, an organisation that provides content and applications for wireless devices, but not necessarily the technical infrastructure (like a MIP does, for example).

WML (Wireless Markup Language), formerly called HDML (Handheld Devices Markup Language), is a tag language that allows the text portions of Web pages to be presented on cellular phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) via wireless access. WML is used for delivering data to WAP devices, and is HTML-like in its appearance. An alernative to WML is I-Mode's cHTML language.

WML Card
A card is a single block of WML code, which can contain basic text or navigation items. Each card makes up part of the interface for a WML-based application. WML cards must exist within a WML deck, and all WML decks conform to the XML standard.

WML Deck
A collection of WML cards. An entire deck is first loaded whenever the user or WAP device requests a URL.

A scripting language for use with WAP devices. Based on ECMAScript, like JavaScript, but less capable.

An acronym for Wireless Session Protocol. A Nokia specified technology, WSP provides the upper-level application layer of WAP with a consistent interface for two session services. The first is connection-orientated service like TCP, that operates above a transaction layer protocol, and the second is a connectionless service (like UDP) that operates above a secure or non-secure datagram transport service.

An acronym for Wireless Telephony Application Interface. The WTAI specification describes standard telephony-specific extensions to WAE, including WML and WMLScript interfaces to such items as call control features, address book and phonebook services. WTAI was devised by the WAP Forum, and is not universally supported, although the Phone.com's UP.Browser supports WTAI.

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An acronym for Extensible Markup Language. The W3C's standard for Internet Markup Languages. WML is one such language, and is a subset of SGML. XML describes the structure of content, unlike HTML that describes how pages are "marked-up", i.e. how they appear when viewed with a suitable UA.

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