International web standards body the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced “best practice” guidelines for developing mobile web apps, stating that the document “offers practical advice from many mobile web stakeholders for the easy development and deployment of mobile web applications that work across many platforms.” Dominique Hazael-Massieux, W3C Mobile Web Initiative Lead, said that the guidelines were used to ensure that its own W3C Cheat Sheet mobile app works on all devices. The body says that the guidelines were created with input from web apps developers, telcos, and browser vendors, and that support has been declared by its Mobile Best Practices Working Group, which includes AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Google, HP, Nokia, Opera Software, SK Telecom, Telefonica and Vodafone.

W3C says that ongoing work with technologies including HTML5, CSS3 and SVG mean that “the web is catching up quickly with the ability to build a superior user interface.” It said it is working to create an “even more powerful platform for developers,” including better hardware and sensor integration. Its web applications, web notifications, web events, device APIs and policy, and geolocation working groups are bringing “a wealth of JavaScript APIs that will reduce the gap between Web and native applications in the coming months and years.”

The document is aimed at developers with experience of web applications and technologies, but knowledge of mobile is not necessary. It lists 32 best practices and is accompanied by three advisory notes, and suggestions include: “use cookies sparingly,” “ensure the user is informed about use of personal and device information,” “minimise application and data size,” “optimise for application start-up,” and “offer users a choice of interfaces.” While the intention is to aid the creation of apps running in a mobile web browser, it said that “in many cases these recommendations are equally applicable to other kinds of Web run-time, such as the W3C work on web widgets and also in a number of vendor-specific initiatives.”

The Mobile Web Applications Best Practices document is available from W3C here.