Archive for the ‘Cell phone SMS/IM based browser’ Category

Cellular Message-Based Browsing – Use Case

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

The following is a first draft of Unified Modeling Language (UML) use cases for the cell phone textual browser.

SMS Internet Gateway Use Case

Basically, the concept is to substitute the cell phone keyboard and display for the PC keyboard, mouse and display. The command processor uses a cell phone command and response interface that is limited to characters. Character transport is via a messaging mechanism. Three basic messaging types are available via a cell phone handset – text messages, picture messages and instant messages (IM). On the other side of the command processor is the interface to the Internet. This interface is provided by a textual browser.

The portal system can handle text and picture messages via email and instant message applications. The command processor receives the commands and acts upon them. Commands may require a translation in order to support the differences between a PC and cell phone user interface.

The major limitation on text messaging is the number of characters in a given message. Typically about 140 characters are avaiable in a tet message. In addition to the image, picture messaging allows significantly more characters to be included in each message. Typically about 1400 characters are available in picture message. Both messages can be scrolled so that the entire message can be viewed, but not necessarily in a single view. Instant messages (IM) allow about the same number of characters as are allowed in a text message for each interaction. IM is more interactive than text and picture messages so that you can scroll up and down to see multiple messages. All three message types allow the cell phone user to enter a response to the original message content.

Cellular Message-Based Browsing 2

Friday, April 25th, 2008

In a nutshell, the data flow for my current cellular text-based browser is as follows:
[Internet web page] <-> [Lynx] <-> [AutoIt] <-> [messaging] <-> [cell phone]

The cellular text browser requires a portal server to be present that has access to the Internet. This portal does not have to be open to the Internet in anyway above and beyond its access to instant messaging or email applications.

I used Lynx a long, long time ago with a 2400 baud modem connected to a DEC computer so that I could explore the Internet. Text based browsers worked just fine then.

Even now, Lynx still does a good job. Of course you cannot see images, but in most cases this turns out not to be major problem. Lynx can be setup to number each link and submitting a particular number takes you to that link. It handles drop-downs and allows forms to be filled in okay too. Keys can be specified to handle commands are used to go back/forward and to page up/down. And importantly, it can be setup for any screen size.

And, now there is a new use for Lynx. Basically, in this application, the cell phone acts as an extension to the display (albeit small) and keyboard to run and view Lynx. What I have done is to use the DOS version of Lynx. Basically, the copy mechanism of a DOS window is used to capture a screen of text rendered by Lynx. This is then pasted into the AIM application or a text/picture message via an email application like Pine. User commands from the cell phone are then copied from AIM or Pine and pasted into the Lynx command line.

Some compression is performed to eliminate superfluous white space. Certain web sites can be used to reformat pages to fit better on small screens. They include Yahoo OneSearch, Compressr and Skweezer.

Other browser choices than Lynx might be Opera or cURL.

Information, binaries and source for the tools and applications that I have used are as follows:
Lynx is available at –
Pine is available at –
AIM is available at –
AutoIt is available at –

In addition, xxx has been used to process images from the command line. It provides an easy and effective mechanism to resize animated gifs and other images. I used it to resize radar weather images in animated gif formats.

Weather images can be pushed at certain times of the day or pulled via special commands. Images are returned as picture messages and are limited by the resolution of the cell phone screen.

Pine provides a means to automate its functions with using command sequences in the command line.
It also has export and import functions. Export saves retreived email to an external file that can be read by another application. Import retreives emails to be sent that were written by another application.

The primary principle was to minimize the amount of programming that is needd to interface the various functions. I thought that interfacing at the application level using common Windows functions like copy/paste might be quicker to prototype.

Probably what I might do eventually is a picture message to send a visual image of what the web site looks like with its accompanying text as the Lynx browsed content.

So far, I have used AIM as the messaging application. Instant messaging is included along with text and picture messaging on my cell plan.

There are a variety of mobile enabled web sites that can be browsed somewhat easier than full resolution web pages. I will list a few of these in no particular order that I found interesting.

In addition, there are a variety of text-based messaging systems that take texted inputs as commands and return a variety of information. I have listed a few of these text-based systems in no particular order that I found interesting.

AutoIt is an interesting language that combines a BASIC-like syntax with a large function library. It allows a programmer to automate the workings and interactions of almost any group of Windows-based applications.I originally undertook this effort to learn a little more about AutoIt and I have only touched its surface. I also want to look at greasemonkey, which allows the presentation of a given web site to be you to rearranged.

Of course, there are APIs for AIM, as well as sending and receiving text messages. Such APIs allow direct interfaces between the applications and the control process without the need to interface at the user level using copy/paste and keystrokes insertion/recording. In addition, if I wanted to make the effort, a Lynx API could be defined and used also. Ultimately, that is the way to go since it would allow much easier modification.

Cellular Message-Based Browsing

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

I have been working on a simple-minded concept to implement a textual browser on a cell phone using one or more of the following three methods:

  1. Text messages
  2. Picture messages
  3. Instant messaging

The method uses a server that runs a text-based Internet browser, an email or instant messaging application and a command processor.

In my first prototypes of message based browsing I used the Lynx text-based browser, AOL Instant Messenger and the AutoIt programming language. I also tried the Pine email application. I first used text-based browsers a long time ago. Lynx worked very well rendering text, but of course images are not explicitly shown. Not being able to see images is often a severe handicap, particularly if you want to see maps or weather radar images. But, in lots of cases, text-only browsing is not so bad. In fact, Lynx does a good job as a simple browser.

Picture messaging can be used to view individual images on a cell phone. A lot of handsets have pretty low resolution displays and are not well adapted to the normal browsing metaphor.