At the huge Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain today, Facebook CTO Bret Taylor took the stage announcing the social web giant is backing initiatives to "standardize" mobile web browsers to help deal with what Taylor characterized as "...rampant technology fragmentation across mobile browsers." 

The company is throwing its support behind the W3C (World Wide WebCommunity) consortium, a move that comes on the heels of both Google and Amazon's October 2011 announcement of W3C support.

"We're taking on Mobile Web standards," Taylor said, with the goal to "...define a single standard and have that consistently adopted across devices." 

Ringmark to Test Browser Compatibility 

At the late winter confab in Spain, Taylor also said Facebook launched "ringmark," a Web-based test suite, "...that measure how well a mobile browser supports the capabilities that modern mobile web apps require," according to the Ringmark test web site. 

Learning Opportunities

The test results are graphically represented and likened to tree rings, with concentric circles (r.0, r.1, r.2, etc.)  showing levels of complexity supported by a browser being tested. Inner circles are core features, and more elaborate ones are shown in the outer rings, with green (passed), grey (failed) and white (not offered) representing the results. 

"As part of our work on the mobile web over the past year, we've often wished that there had been a test suite for mobile browsers that is comprehensive, fair, and that tests the feature sets that developers really need," said Facebook's Matt Kelly on the company blog this morning. 

Kelly also promised more, including making the test suite open-source, and said Facebook will donate the Ringmark test suite to the W3C consortium.   

Mobile Payments to Improve

Another goal of the Facebook initiative is to standardize a web apps payment system, in a move away from the "app store" model adopted by Apple, Google Android and Amazon.  For example, outside the walled garden, Taylor said "...the payments experience is just broken for end users [as] most purchases require SMS device verification." And the experience isn't much better on the web developer side either, according to Taylor, so Facebook is creating an SDK (software developer kit) that will help eliminate SMS verification for its users and offer a "single step to confirm the purchase," he said.