IE Mobile Updates for Developers
I have touched on this topic in the past, but it seem to be generating quite a few questions on the “make it work” radar, so I thought I would make a quick post. If you have Windows Mobile users who access information through a web site regularly, you may have noticed some things have changed with newer devices. IE Mobile made some significant updates with the browser in the new platform release. If you are doing any AJAX development or happen to render device side content based on browser agent strings, you need to know about these changes.
For starters, the way IE mobile reports itself has changed in a big way. No longer are we reporting an old agent string of MSIE 4.01. Now we’re MSIE 6.0. This is a good thing in that the old browser agent string actually prevented devices from accessing some newer sites that required current browsers. IE Mobile has added a lot of new capabilities and we needed to report a newer browser version to move it forward. The agent string also makes a big difference if your web site renders content differently based on the client agent (e.g. – full page for desktop browser, simple page for a Smartphone). If you used to detect a Windows Mobile device by looking for MSIE 4.01 and PPC/Smartphone in the agent string—you’ll need to update it to look for IEMobile instead. I’ve had quite a few people asking why their web sites suddenly started looking very different. This is often why. Read more about user agent changes here
Now I’m a huge Smart Client advocate (NETCF is your friend!!!) but the web is all the rage about AJAX now and mobile browsers are no exception. If you are doing AJAX development, it’s especially important to understand some of the differences that still exist between IE for the desktop and IE Mobile. First, you need to have an understanding of IE Mobile’s support for standards which gets better with every release. You can do some cool AJAX work with IE Mobile, but be sure to review what you can and cannot do. Older versions of IE Mobile don’t have the same level of DOM support as the newer browser so there are tricks to working around that. There are also a few tips for making it work with ASP.NET AJAX and in many cases, you may need to push out content targeting the desktop IE5 browser for maximum compatibility. There are two great places that highlight most of these details – thanks to posts on Channel9 and our friend Jim Wilson.
Jim Wilson (Jim’s blog is filled with goodies on AJAX and Windows Mobile)
Be sure to stay tuned to the IE Mobile Team Blog for details and information about our mobile browser. I’ve found this to be a great place to get information you won’t find anywhere else.
If you have really cool AJAX web sites working with Windows Mobile, we’d love to hear about them.