What is 'Device Context'?

LewisNyman's picture

Context can mean many things, especially in Drupal. What I want to talk about is what context relates too from a device perspective.

Broadly I think this equates too:

It is device capabilities and constraints plus the fact that mobile devices are with you anywhere and everywhere.Luke Wroblewski

How does the ambiguous location of the user affect their browsing experience? Which device capabilities are going to affect how they view and use the site?

Part of the purpose of this discussion is to remove all assumptions we have about the device based on only a few metrics like screen size. All web capable devices take on some of the properties below.


  • Large Screen - any number above 320px width, even that is up for debate
  • Screen Resolution - ppi
  • Colour
  • Touch
  • Multi Touch
  • Camera(s)
  • Fast Network Connection
  • Location Detection
  • Motion Detection
  • Position Detection
  • User Orientation
  • Audio Input Device
  • Video Input Device
  • Orientation
  • SMS
  • Battery Status
  • Contacts
  • Calendar
  • Physical Keyboard
  • Modern Web Standards Capable - Divide this up as you will


  • Proximity to Other Devices
  • Proximity to the User
  • Ambient Light
  • Signal Strength
  • Network
  • Temperature
  • User Attention
  • Social Context
  • Input - One thumb or two?
  • Input - Left or Right Handed?

Some Capabilities are detectable now, some are a work in progress and some are on their way. Situations are never reliably detectable, which is why they need to be tested thoroughly.