IBM Systems Journal - 2002 Copyright

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IBM Journal of Research and Development  
Volume 40, Number 1, Page 153 (2001)
Technology for e-business
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Transcoding: Extending e-business to new environments

by K. H. Britton, R. Case, A. Citron, R. Floyd, Y. Li, C. Seekamp, B. Topol, K. Tracey
The promise of e-business is coming true: both businesses and individuals are using the Web to buy products and services. Both want to extend the reach of e-business to new environments. Customers want to check accounts, access information, and make purchases with their cellular phones, pagers, and personal digital assistants (PDAs). Banks, airlines, and retailers are competing to provide the most ubiquitous, convenient service for their customers. Web applications designed to take advantage of the rich rendering capabilities of advanced desktop browsers on large displays do not generally render effectively on the small screens available on phones and PDAs. Some devices have little or no graphics capability, or they require different markup languages, such as Wireless Markup Language (WML), for text presentation. Transcoding is technology for adapting content to match constraints and preferences associated with specific environments. This paper compares and contrasts different approaches to content adapta tion, including authoring different versions to accommodate different environments, using application server technology such as JavaServer pages™ (JSP™) to create multiple versions of dynamic applications, and dynamically transcoding information generated by a single application. For dynamic transcoding, the paper describes several different transcoding methodologies employed by the IBM WebSphere™ Transcoding Publisher product, including HyperText Markup Language (HTML) simplification, Extensible Markup Language stylesheet selection and application, HTML conversion to WML, WML deck fragmentation, and image transcoding. The paper discusses how to decide whether transcoding should be performed at the content source or in a network intermediary. It also describes a means of identifying the device and network characteristics associated with a request and using that information to decide how to transcode the response. Finally, the paper discusses the need for new networking benchmarks to characterize the server load and performance characteristics for dynamic transcoding.
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