Server side, client side, RESS, RWD, Progressive WHAT…? Drizzle some HTML5 on top, and confusion is complete.
Here are a few good posts bringing clarity to the different approaches.
- Mobile Web Content Adaptation Techniques.
- Which One: Responsive Design, Device Experiences, or RESS?
Luke Wroblewskis take on the different approaches. Also worth a read is post at Facebooks HTML5 blog where he explains “Device experiences”.
- Future of the mobile web.
The output of The Future of the Mobile Web event.
Still, most of these techniques are about presentation only, which of course is very important and useful in many cases, but I still believe that the next step for making content and services independent of how they are consumed, we need more intelligence throughout the entire value chain. I know, we are a bit into the future here, and maybe too philosophical.
Still, it is a huge mistake to think that Responsive Web Design, as defined, is the answer to independence, whether we are talking mobile, desktop, tablets, TVs or toasters. Same goes for many of the other techniques described above.
I am still a firm believer in finding the perfect mix between doing adaptive magic server side and client side. So currently, and in the foreseeable future, there is no way around some kind of server side device detection, using WURFL, DeviceAtlas or similar DDR.
Using some kind of server side logic will also pave the way for a more intelligent value chain which is needed to take independence of presentation to the next level (I acknowledge that the title of this post was a bit off…).
Where are the CMS vendors in this discussion? They should be very much involved! Now, the mobile sphere and the forward-leaning web developers are very engaged, but the real enabling party here is the CMS vendors. The CMS is where you make your content smart, and it is also where you empower the people creating the content to make smart decisions. The different approaches outlined in the links above are all good in certain contexts. Imagine if the content it self knew which of these techniques (or mix of techniques) it needed to make sense of it self in the different presentation contexts…. That would be cool. And it is possible to do today.
Where are you CMS vendors? This must be a golden opportunity!