Wireless Markup Language

What Does Wireless Markup Language Mean?

Wireless markup language (WML) is a markup language for wireless devices that adhere to Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and have limited processing capability. Just like HTML is a markup language that renders content for desktop browsers, WML renders content for wireless devices that do not have appropriate processing capabilities.It does this by defining the protocol stack and WWW based Internet access for wireless devices. WAP also has sites written in WML like HTML-based sites.


WML is designed to handle issues like small display size, limited user input capabilities, narrowband network connection with high latency, limited memory and computational processing power.

Techopedia Explains Wireless Markup Language

WML is analogous to HTML in several ways because it is written in plain text format. However, because wireless devices are not the same in terms of display, processing power and button layout, some features are specific to devices that are incorporated in WML.

The following are some key features of WML as compared to HTML:

  • WML is a markup language for small, wireless computing devices.
  • In WML, variables can be defined that store data in string format. In HTML, variables cannot be stored.
  • WML uses WML script for client-side scripting, which is stored in a separate file. HTML uses JavaScript.
  • The supported image format for WML is WBMP. HTML supports JPEG, GIF and BMP.
  • A micro-browser is used to run WML markup. A regular browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome, is used to run HTML markup.
  • WML follows XHTML specification and is therefore case sensitive. HTML is not case sensitive.
  • WML has fewer tags compared to HTML.
  • A deck is a set of WML cards. In HTML, a site is a set of HTML pages.

WML-equipped devices have the following characteristics:

  • Display Size: Devices have a small screen size and low resolution; therefore WML has to be capable of rendering content regardless of display size.
  • Input: Small computing devices do not have a mouse or pointer-based navigation devices. They may have a small numeric keypad or a QWERTY keypad based on whether the device is simple or sophisticated. WML has to be capable of obtaining necessary user input regardless of the limitations of the device.
  • Processing: They have limited-capacity rechargeable batteries with a low-power CPU and low memory. WML browsers should act like thin clients and perform minimal processing on the device.
  • Network Capabilities: Small computing devices have a low bandwidth and high network latency. WML has to ensure maximum efficiency in fetching requested Web pages from the server.

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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…