Velib’s Mobile Site

For a couple of months now, the city of Paris has an extensive network of automated bike rental stations throughout the city. The service is called "Velib" and is very well accepted. Velib’s are everywhere these days when you are out and about.

Velib also has a mobile site where people can search for the nearest Velib station and can see how many bikes are available there. The picture on the left shows how this looks like in the browser. It’s a bit pathetic that in this day and age, the service is still based on WAP 1.0, but o.k., it’s better than nothing. The service in it’s current state is a bit difficult to use but it shows the potential for tomorrow: With mobile phones with built in GPS receivers becoming more common and powerful mobile web browsers with AJAX support can be easily enhanced in the future to locate the user, center the map around his position and show him the next bike rental station with the information he needs.

Velib should publish a JavaScript API to retrieve bike rental station positions and availability information. I am sure somebody in Paris will quickly come up with a mobile mashup that combines Velib and Google Maps.

4 thoughts on “Velib’s Mobile Site”

  1. >the service is still based
    >on WAP 1.0, but o.k., it’s >better than nothing.
    Huh? I’m pretty sure the screen shot you posted is XHTML of some description.

    Try it for yourself. Download user agent switcher for Firefox. Set your user agent to a XTML capable UA (e.g. “Nokia7610/2.0 (4.0424.4) SymbianOS/7.0s Series60/2.1 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.0”) and you will get the XHTML version of the site.

    Adaptation is the new black. Granted they should probably not send WML to regular web browsers.

  2. Hi Paschal,

    no, it’s definitely WML! Here’s the beginning of the page:

    ?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”iso-8859-1″ ?

    “-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.3//EN”
    wml xml:lang=”fr”
    head meta http-equiv=”cache-control” content=”no-cache”/
    template do type=”prev” label=”Retour” prev //do/template
    card title=”Velib” p align=”center”img src=”http://galsn1.

    (brackets removed otherwise it won’t show up here…)

    When using it with a standard HTML browser (e.g. Nokia NSeries) I get an unsupported content type error….

  3. Update 1:

    After some more experiments with User-Agent strings and talking to Paschal it looks like velib mobile does look at the HTTP User-Agent string and tries to decide whether to send WML or XHTML. Unfortunately it fails to make the right decision for the Nokia Nseries XHTML browser and Firefox and sends them WML, which both can’t handle…

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