Efforts to improve the Web-surfing capabilities of handheld devices have taken a leap forward with the recommendation of a new standard by the World Wide Consortium (W3C).

The W3C technical specification - Composite Capability/Preference Profiles (CC/PP): Structures and Vocabularies 1.0 - enables handheld devices, such as mobile phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) to communicate with Web servers and exchange content delivery information, according to the consortium. For instance, the system will allow a mobile phone to tell the server its display size so that content is delivered in a format that fits the screen.

The CC/PP 1.0 specification uses the Resource Description Framework (RDF), one of the key specifications of the Semantic Web, according to the consortium. The Semantic Web is an initiative spearheaded by W3C to establish "delivery context" for information delivered to devices over the Web, it said.

A W3C recommendation is the equivalent of a Web standard, indicating that a W3C-developed specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability and has been reviewed by the W3C members who favour its adoption by industry.

The Device Independence Working Group is working on the Protocol and Processing Rules, a document that will standardise the way CC/PP information is transmitted to a server using different kinds of protocols, such as HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and how proxy servers can modify CC/PP information by adding their own characteristics.

Companies invited to contribute to the group's work include Nokia Corp., NTT DoCoMo Inc., SAP AG and Sun Microsystems Inc.