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Linking i-mode Resources

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You are probably familiar with how to use links, based on your experience with desktop browsers such as Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Links can appear as text, images, or icons that are clicked to move to another page on that site or another resource elsewhere on the Internet. In this article, Paul Wallace introduces you to linking to various types of resources within i-mode pages.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Understanding i-mode Links

Links within i-mode pages are very similar to their desktop counterparts. However, it is not just documents that can be linked from your i-mode pages; you also have the ability to link to email and telephone numbers. These types of links will instruct the browser on the user's handset to start a new i-mode email message to send to the linked email address, or dial the handset to place a phone call to the linked number. In addition, certain i-mode handsets also have built-in support to add new records to their address books through the use of a few attributes that can be appended to the anchor element.

In an i-mode microbrowser, links typically appear in much the same way as the default format for links on desktop browsers. They appear as blue underlined text, but this can vary, based upon the color and text support within the handset. On a mobile handset, users select links using the four-way navigation found on all i-mode handsets, which is comprised of a central four-button navigation and select tool in the middle of the keypad. This allows a user to click, scroll up and down, move back and forward, and select. The implementation differs from model to model, most use buttons; however some have a joystick, scroll wheel, or center jog dial.

When a user navigates to a link on an i-mode screen, the selected link will appear highlighted. Figure 1 shows how links are displayed within a typical microbrowser. Notice that the selected link is highlighted, and the navigation keys on the handset can be used to move from link to link within this screen.

Figure 1 - Links within i-mode documents are generally formatted as underlined text

Linking i-mode Pages

The first thing you need to know in order to create a link to another i-mode compatible page on the Internet is the URL. For example:

http://www.adcorejapan.co.jp/imode/index.html

Once you have identified the URL of a resource, you can then use the anchor element to link to this from within your i-mode page. The URL of the link will be supplied as the value of the href attribute. Place the text that you wish to use be formatted as the link between the beginning <a> and ending </a> tags. Using the example URL above to create a link to this i-mode site, type the following:

<a href="http://www.adcorejapan.co.jp/imode/index.html">Adcore</a>

Using the accesskey Attribute

Due to the limited navigation abilities of using a handset to browse i-mode pages, there is a need to make resources for the mobile Internet as easy to use as possible. One of the most functional ways of improving your site's usability is to use the accesskey attribute appropriately for your links.

The accesskey attribute is used within the anchor element to give users the ability to select a link by simply pressing one of the number keys on their handset's dialpad. Valid keys are 0 to 9, as well as the * (star) and # (pound) keys. Using an accesskey is most appropriate when presenting a list of links where a user would have to scroll down the page to select the one that he or she is most interested in. Instead of scrolling, links with accesskey attributes allow the user to click the appropriate number key to activate the link immediately.

For example, Listing 1 displays a list of anchor links within an i-mode document. Notice that the value for each accesskey within the anchor tag is incremental, with values from 1 to 0, from the top of the list down.

Listing 1[em]Using the accesskey Attribute

<html>
<head>
<title>Accesskey</title>
</head>
<body>
1. <a href="biz.html" accesskey="1">Business</a><br>
2. <a href="tec.html" accesskey="2">Technology</a><br>
3. <a href="edu.html" accesskey="3">Education</a><br>
4. <a href="ent.html" accesskey="4">Entertainment</a><br>
5. <a href="gov.html" accesskey="5">Government</a><br>
6. <a href="rec.html" accesskey="6">Recreation</a><br>
7. <a href="ref.html" accesskey="7">Reference</a><br>
8. <a href="sci.html" accesskey="8">Science</a><br>
9. <a href="soc.html" accesskey="9">Society</a><br>
</body>
</html>

The accesskey does not format the link with any type of corresponding number, but you can number the links manually as the code, as I have for Listing 1.

Linking to an Email Address

The most popular activity for i-mode users is sending and receiving email messages. When they sign up for service, all I-mode subscribers are given an email address, and it is estimated that about three-quarters of them use email regularly. With i-mode, email can be sent to and from other i-mode email accounts, and also sent to and from personal computers, handhelds, and even pagers.

Because email is such a popular form of communicating, it is likely that you will want to include an email link in your company or personal i-mode pages. For instance, you might want to include your sales email address on your company i-mode site, so customers can write; or include a link to your personal i-mode email address on your i-mode page so that friends and family can reach you. Fortunately, creating the i-mode email link is easy; so let's take a look at how to use this type of link.

Links from the Web to email are generally known as mailto links, and are very similar to linking to i-mode pages as they also use the anchor element. The reason we call them mailto links is that instead of the "http://" prefix in the value of the href attribute, you will use a "mailto:" prefix and then supply the full email address.

For instance, to open an email form to send a message to info@imode-guide.com, you type:

<a href="mailto:info@imode-guide.com">info@imode-guide.com</a>

In an i-mode microbrowser, the email link is formatted just like a hypertext link in the i-mode page. However, when clicked, it will instruct the browser to open a new email message to the address supplied as the value of the href attribute, as seen in Figure 2.

Figure 2 - Mailto links within i-mode open a new email message to the address supplied.

Linking to Phone Numbers

Email is the most popular feature of i-mode, but the primary use for most mobile phone users is placing and receiving voice phone calls. The integration of i-mode with voice and address book functions in the handset is an important feature unique to the mobile Internet. By integrating the ability to place phone links within i-mode pages, known as telephony links, you can give users the ability to contact you quickly and easily.

Creating links to phone numbers, called telephony links, are simple and easy to include in your i-mode pages. They are similar to mailto and hypertext links, in that they are made through the use of the anchor element. In this case the prefix value of the href is "tel:" followed by the full telephone number to be dialed. The number can be another i-mode phone, landline phone, or other mobile number.

For example, to create a link that dials my office phone, you would type:

<a href="tel:37663635">3766-3635</a>

Notice that the phone number that follows the "tel:" prefix is formatted without characters like hyphens or parenthesis. These may cause problems with some handsets, so it is advised that you simply enter the string of digits without any other characters. However, the linked text for this telephony link shows my office number as it would generally appear—with hyphens to make it easier to read. In the i-mode microbrowser, the telephony link will appear formatted in the same way as other types of links, with underlined blue text as seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3 - Telephony links within i-mode give users the ability to contact you quickly and easily.

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