Don’t call me DOM

30 November 2006

Off-line browsing on a mobile device

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I installed the latest version of Opera Mini on my Treo 650 PDA, inspired by all the pretty good feedback I read here and there; unfortunately, I never got it to run properly, as it seems to insist on crashing (and on making my palm reboot) as soon as I’m about to browse anything. Opera Mini 2.0 had some occasional crashs, but I hadn’t had anything nearly as severe as this. I guess I’ll need to downgrade back to 2.0 for now.

As I was looking around on the Web for a possible solution to this (the one I found was not helpful for me), I read someone commenting that the latest Opera Mini was almost as good as his preferred browser, Xiino.

Screenshot of Xiino showing this blog

Having never heard of it, I downloaded the evaluation version and realized that it addresses one of the biggest issues for me with most of the browsers in the mobile market: the (im)possibility to save or cache the pages you browse for off-line reading.

This seems like an obvious feature: given the relative high cost of downloading data in most of the world (esp. when roaming), and given that phones and PDAs are more and more storage mediums for personal digital data, having the possibility to save pages you find on the Web for later re-use in disconnected mode seems like a no-brainer. But most browsers I’ve used ignore that need, and often even don’t do the most basic caching you could expect.

So, I was very pleasantly surprised to see how this was one of the core feature of this Xiino browser, and quite well integrated in the browsing experience. When browsing around, saving a page for later re-use is always directly doable from the UI, and you can start browsing around while disconnected without even noticing if the pages are already cached. The browser also offers to save cached pages in the Palm text editor for re-using the data in other contexts – which arguably only makes sense in really smartphones.

I was so pleased with this that I was considering buying it and making it my default browser, but unfortunately, I quickly spotted some ugly bugs: it doesn’t seem to interpret UTF8 pages properly, it doesn’t support the application/xhtml+xml media type (!), doesn’t follow anchors marked with id="foo" (which I guess can be summarized as not supporting properly XHTML), and seems to have a pretty limited support for CSS as well.

Anyway, I’m hoping that we can have off-line browsing integrated as a default feature of the mobile web browsing experience, and, while Xiino isn’t really usable for me due to the defects I mentioned, it clearly is a pretty good illustration of what can be done to make it a reality.

2 Responses to “Off-line browsing on a mobile device”

  1. dom Says:

    Well, eventually I got Opera Mini 3.0 to work on my Treo; it appeared the first released version was indeed buggy

  2. Andrea Trasatti’s Tech notes and more » Blog Archive » Opera Mini 3.0 - review Says:

    […] Reviews: Dan Appelquist: New Opera Mini Integrates Photo Blogging Dominique Hazaël-Massieux: Off-line browsing on a mobile device Helicoid’s mmm: Opera Mini 3 Mike Rowehl: Bloglines Mobile and Opera Mini […]

Picture of Dominique Hazael-MassieuxDominique Hazaël-Massieux (dom@w3.org) is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Staff; his interests cover a number of Web technologies, as well as the usage of open source software in a distributed work environment.