But, I like transcoding!

screenshot - Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMobile transcoding – services which turn a webpage into something better suited for a mobile web browser – is an often contentious topic. It’s a topic which has come up several times recently, and at best people will begrudgingly describe it as a necessary temporary evil.

Don’t get me wrong – it hasn’t been without problems. It has been used in inappropriate ways, and I know web-developers whose sites have been broken by poor (and inflicted!) uses of mobile transcoding.

But as a practical, day-to-day tool – I kinda like it.

I started using Google’s transcoder (GWT) because when you use the mobile version of Google’s RSS reader, any links you click on are transcoded by GWT for you. And I find it very useful.

It creates efficient pages which render well in Pocket Internet Explorer. Plus it stops my phone trying to download some ridiculously large webpages over GPRS (argh… curse web-developers who have 1MB webpages on the front of your sites!).

It also adds a link to any RSS feeds it finds in a page at the top – clicking on which will take you to the feed in Google Reader (my RSS reader of choice at the moment), from where you can subscribe to the feed. (Slightly roundabout, but the only way I know to subscribe to new feeds from Google Reader Mobile).

I like.

But it’s a bit of a faff getting a page transcoded by GWT if you aren’t already given a link to a transcoded page. So (in the tiny window between tonight’s screaming fits… gah – when will the baby start sleeping through the night?!) I added a new tool to my set of Pocket Internet Explorer (PIE) extensions: one that will re-open the current page using Google mobile transcoder.

The next time I start opening a webpage in Pocket Internet Explorer and watch the progress bar continuing to climb through several hundreds KBs, I can just tap ‘Stop’ and use ‘Tools –> Transcode with Google’ to re-open the page in mobile form. Neat.

Okay, it isn’t massively clever. It’s just a little bit of C++ which sticks “http://google.com/gwt/n?u=” at the start of the browser’s current URL. But like I said… I didn’t have too long to play tonight. 🙂

For those keeping score, the PIE extensions in the set now include:

You can download the updated set here.

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4 Responses to “But, I like transcoding!”

  1. Ian says:

    I read a lot of rss feeds on my 3″ phone screen. They often contain the first paragraph and then a dreaded “…”, which means I also spend lots of time waiting for & reading web pages. They are usually rendered really badly – In default mode they’re a huge one word wide column, and in desktop mode, its like trying to read a broadsheet paper an inch from your eyes.
    I’d never heard of Google transcoding before reading this and its brilliant. I think this has the highest reward to effort ratio of any of your work posted here. I expect I’ll use it daily (if not hourly).
    Many Thanks!

  2. dale says:

    “its like trying to read a broadsheet paper an inch from your eyes”


    Thats one of the best descriptions I’ve heard of web browsing on a mobile 🙂

  3. trids says:

    Very cool, thanks! I like the way you stay within the transcoder as you pass from link to link .. but it would be great if there was a further option to exit the transcoder on the current page.

    You can’t just delete the “http://google.com/gwt/n?u=” section in the address bar, because the slashes in the portion of the address that you want to preserve are all turned into %20

  4. Gary says:

    Google already provides for that — look at the bottom of the transcoded page…