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Anyone programming for PocketPC's?

Hi,

Is anyone here written any programs for the pocket pc?
If so, what are your opinion thus far of the pocket platform? Do you see any market for writing programs for this platform? 

Lil Guy
Monday, October 20, 2003

We have  been doing development for our company for Pocket PC for about 6 months.  I am rather happy with our results.  We have done a mix of .Net and Embedded C++ on Pocket PC 2002. 

Making the jump from Desktop progamming to Handheld programming is pretty easy.  There are a lot of APIs available that give you basic functions.  Just know that everything is Unicode on this OS.  We created a set of C# classes that hooked into some of the Win32 API's.  There is no native support inside the .Net Compact framework that allows for things such as CreateProcess or RegCreateKey.

Our major complaint is with the Development tools.  I can't count the number of times I have had to reinstall my Dev tools (embedded Visual tools, and SDKs). 

Matt Watson
Monday, October 20, 2003

My company develops data acquisition and control software for handheld Pocket PC devices.  And we find the platform to be very exciting.  Its lean and doesn't contain as much baggage as the desktop version.  The support is good, and the dev. tools are *FREE*.  While not perfect, I have found little issues with Embedded VC.  We do pure Win32 development, so don't know how well MFC and .NET work.  But they do.

Currently the Palm vs. PPC war is similar to the old days of when MS was entrenching itself as the dominant PC OS.  So the industry is always in a buzz.

Microsoft still needs to work hard though, as Palm is definately giving it a run for its money.  And that's good news.  Keeps both companies on their toe's.

Sure there's hype, but then again, where isn't there?  We believe the future is mobile, and these devices are growing and innovating in great numbers.  My company actually wants to develop the first tri-corder using PPC's.  But I digress.

The profit margins vary across the entire handheld industry, and there is no single conglomarate ISV.  Mostly small startup companies like mine inching forward in this niche market to hopefully become the conglomorate.  ;)
So there's healthy competition.  And lots of good people.

The Smartphone market is also growing.  But still quite young with very few vendors.

Lot's of opportunity and excitement!  I love it!

sedwo
Monday, October 20, 2003

Just a small tidbit I've picked up from trolling around Palm and WindowsCE/PocketPC sites: the free PocketPC dev tools are *MUCH* easier to find, install, and use than the Palm ones.  I'm not sure if this will be a deciding factor in the long run, but I'd rather program on a PocketPC than a Palm.

Andrew Burton
Monday, October 20, 2003

Like most of the computing industry, the handheld stuff works well with existing applications you sell.

Further, easy stuff like bar coding and inventory can be setup by end users with available software today. What this means is that there is not a lot work to done, or needed on the handheld side.

I have not used the CE tools, but they were free at one time. On the palm side, I found products like HandiBase very easy to use (there is a version for both PPC, and Palm). HandiBase is very slick and I have used the palm version. I suppose if you are familiar with VB, then you probably will like the CE kits.

You can check out: http://www.microsoft.com/mobile/developer/gettingstarted/default.asp

You might even grab the emulator that lets you run/test software without even having a pocket pc device.. I don't know much more then the above.

However, I did setup a application on the palm for a Tour company. The database on the palm would allow people in the parking lot to lookup what bus number people they are supposed to go on. With 10, or 15 buses leaving at the same time (800 people), it can be very difficult to look up a person name from a paper printout. Further, you could search by first name, last name, or even a friend who is in the same room!

In addition, the palm application could be filtered by a bus# to get a instant bus list. Tapping (Clicking!) on a user would also show who they rooming with, and in what hotel. Additional information such as phone numbers etc was also viewable. Often people would arrive at the parking lot, and not know what bus they are on.  You can see a screen shot of the palm icon in my tour applications here: (just quickly scroll down to the last screen shot). Clicking on that icon would export the database to the palm side.

http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn/ridesrpt/ridesrpt.html

Time to setup the whole palm application and integrate with my tour software (ms-access) with all the above features? About 4 hours of my time..that was it! In place of using a database tool on the handheld, you could hand code the stuff and spend 3 weeks in place of 4 hours. I am constantly amazed the amount money that some companies throw writing handheld appcltions. I mean, would you develop a screen to edit a mailing list on your pc side in c++? In less then one hour, you can build a screen in ms-access, and there is NO need to hire a c++ coder for such a mundane task. The majority of handheld appcltions are in the same boat, and require very little deveopment time.

The database application I used was HandiBase

http://www.ddhsoftware.com/handbase.html

In other words, I think the handheld stuff is great, and you can setup stuff in very little amounts of time. Most of the application stuff will be on the desktop/pc side anyway.

Hint:
Palm applications are only useful when they are driven from a existing information system.

Handheld Games = stand alone
Business software = grab data from existing systems!

Since the time to setup the stuff is so small, there is NOT a lot of work to be done.  Remember, these applications don’t work well unless they are driven from application data that the client already has. The database will useally be highly de-normalized for the palm side.

Thus, handheld appcltions are often a great addition to existing software applications, and the time to set up applications is usually well under one day.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Monday, October 20, 2003

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