What Is WAP?
The term WAP describes many things. The acronym stands for Wireless Application Protocol and is a collection of protocols for transferring data from a WAP gateway to a WAP client. However, WAP is more than that; it also includes the markup language WML (a counterpart to HTML) and a client-side scripting language WMLScript.
WAP is the result of attempts by manufacturers of mobile phones to standardize Internet access from mobile devices. They founded the WAP Forum in 1997. In 1999, the first WAP-enabled mobile phone, the Nokia 7110, appeared on the market. However, for some time, this was one of the very few phones that supported the new standard. Soon, WAP was dubbed with "Where Are the Phones?" It took until as late as 2001 for most new mobile phones of the middle and upper price segment to support WAP. For the technology, that probably was too late. WAP was limited to transfer rates of 9600KB/s, and online time was expensive. Another problem was the limited ease of use of the new devices. User input is done using the buttons of the mobile phone (no mouse is available), and the displays are really small, making it hard to read longer texts.
So the question is: Does that mean the WAP technology is dead? The answer is yes and no. True, the term WAP that was extremely hyped in 2000 completely disappeared from the news in 2003. However, all recent phones do support WAP (let alone the cheap ones). The technology itself is fine; most of the problems are hardware specific (bandwidth, transmission speed, user interface). So chances are good that the technology might have a revival in the foreseeable future.
The good thing is that creating WAP-enabled content is quite easy, using PHP, after you know the basics. If at one point you build a PHP-powered content management system, the additional steps to convert your information to WAP-enabled content are well worth the effort. So we start first with an introduction to WML, the markup language for mobile content. Then we show you how to produce WML using your favorite server-side technology, PHP.