Although the wireless communication protocols are key to the success of WAP, it is the Wireless Application Environment (WAE) standards that are most relevant to application developers. The WAE provides a vendor-neutral application architecture based on Internet standards. The WAE specifications outline an application programming model that supports browsing, scripting, and extensions that allow cellular network operators to offer network services within WAP. Like the protocol stack specifications, the WAE standards are tailored to suit the requirements of mobile devices and networks.
The WAE defines user agents, services, and formats. User agents are simply applications that run inside a WAP-capable device such as a mobile phone. The standards support independent user agents to allow for expanded device functionality and to ensure that special services such as mobile network access are isolated from regular Internet services. The services that comprise the WAE include an eXtensible Markup Language (XML)-compliant Wireless Markup Language, a scripting language (WMLScript) and supporting libraries, as well as telephony services provided by the Wireless Telephony Application libraries. Each class of information within the WAE is identified by a unique format. Encoding and decoding of content (e.g., WML) ensures that information sent between a user agent and the WAP gateway uses minimal bandwidth.