Socialtext's Mobile Wiki: Miki


Very cool, Ross and the folks over at Socialtext have launched a mobile version of their wiki service they've dubbed 'Miki'. Ross pinged me a week or so ago about it and I thought it was very interesting. It's targeted squarely at the Blackberry crowd right now, which is more than fine for these guys. Their customers are mostly Enterprise and in general launching a new mobile service with a specific target handset type is a practical strategy. It's a lot of work to support thousands of phones.

The interesting thing about Wikis is that if you think about it, they are almost custom made to work on mobiles because their markup is already being created on the fly. You write using WikiText, with *bold* letters and WikiWords and !!!Headings and stuff, and then use a converter to create the web page right before it goes out to the browser. This is cool - now there's not the problem of having to process HTML, and try to figure out how it can work on a phone, as Socialtext starts to add support for more devices and builds up their DB, they can have variations on their page processor to create versions of the site that work on various handsets.

I told Ross this, and I'll pass it on here. Two fundamental things to look for when creating sites for the mobile web are page length - not going over 5Kb in size is important if you serving pages to a Motorola RAZR for example - and image size as well - proxying and thumbnailing on the fly is another good idea. No one wants to download a 500Kb jpg over GPRS. I also think these guys should look at using Handheld stylesheets a bit more for their main site. They have a hidden form, which is sort of a pain (because you can't use JavaScript to display it dynamically on a handset), but everything else works really well to shrink the page so that it looks good on a smaller screen.

Anyways, congrats Ross and Co! Don't stop here though, this is just the tineiest of baby steps towards making Socialtext truly mobile and tapping into the opportunities that are in that area. :-)


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