Sign up below to view device data and get your trial account.

We communicate via email to process your request in line with our privacy policy. Please check the box to give us your permission to do this.


Why We Still Need Device Description Repositories

The concept of Device Description Repository (DDR) was created in the early days of smartphones when W3C decided to address the issue of mobile device fragmentation. Device Description Repository was meant to facilitate creating online content that adapts to the differences between devices to provide users with optimal viewing experience.

The beginning of Device Description Repository

The capabilities of first mobile browsers used in early smartphones and feature phones were very limited in comparison to their desktop counterparts. Therefore in the 1990s and early 2000s web developers had to build mobile websites that were stripped down, and displayed as little text, graphics and scripts as possible. Web servers only verified if the device is a mobile phone, or not, to redirect mobile visitors to the simplified experience.

But this changed with the expansion of smartphones that were powerful enough to display desktop websites, even though they weren’t tailored for their screens and input methods.

These issues were addressed by the Mobile Web Initiative Device Description Working Group (DDWG) that proposed Device Description Repository in 2006. dotMobi which was originally the founder of DeviceAtlas, was actually involved in the setting of standards for DDRs.

The group’s works focused on creating a ‘vocabulary of device properties’, as well as some general ideas and goals that could be achieved by using this solution. A DDR was meant to work as a set of device characteristics and lookup methods that could be freely applied by web developers building mobile-specific experiences.

The goals of Device Description Repository are still valid

DDWG finished its works in 2008 after developing 'DDR Simple API' that then became W3C recommendation but obviously some of its findings are still valid, even though mobile web has changed dramatically since the formation of DDWG. Here are some of the key concepts that are still relevant:

  • The ever-growing device fragmentation

Device Description Repository was proposed due to the growth of mobile device fragmentation that became apparent as early as in 2006. Today new types of web-enabled devices emerge regularly varying wildly in terms of hardware, software, screen sizes, input methods, etc. Web developers need to be able to build websites that work well across all devices that have browsers.

  • The need for device detection solutions

Coming up with flexible, lightweight, fast, device-optimized experiences requires server-side device detection solutions that are fast and easy to deploy, and that don’t create a bottleneck slowing down the overall performance of online services. Here you can learn more on the three options for device detection solutions that you can apply today.

  • Quick and reliable device properties lookup methods

Apart from the device database that was a part of a repository's concept, you also need some sophisticated, and efficient methods to look up device properties in real-time. For instance, DeviceAtlas developed the patented method that improves accuracy of results when multiple sources of device data are available.

  • Device-optimized user experience

As TheNextWeb recently put it, adaptive design, based on server-side device detection, generally means better website performance, and increased flexibility in crafting device-tailored experiences. Adaptive is the preferred choice for the majority of top Alexa companies. It works particularly well for e-commerce websites where great user experience on all devices drives more purchases, bookings, signups, or any other form of conversion.

Looking for Device Description Repository?

A server-side device detection solution based on a repository of device characteristics is essential for adaptive web design, redirection rules, ad targeting, or device-aware web analytics solutions.

DeviceAtlas provides you with a sophisticated device detection solution that is based on a constantly updated device database built and maintained by a team of data experts.


Get started with a local device detection trial

DeviceAtlas is a high-speed device detection solution used by some of the largest companies in the online space to:

  • Optimize UX and conversion rate on mobile
  • Boost web performance
  • Target ads and analyze web traffic
  • Enable App analytics and advertising insights

Get started with a locally-installed trial to test DeviceAtlas at no cost.

Get started