PDA Application Walkthrough

Kyle Cordes
Oasis Digital Solutions Inc.
August 2003

Development Platforms

In some cases my clients need to offer a solution for both the Palm and the PocketPC platforms. I did considerable research in to cross-platform development solutions that run the same software on the Palm and PocketPC platforms. I did not find anything satisfactory. The solutions all involved some combination of:

I built small several exploratory programs with a variety of tools for both platforms. Some of the tools were tempting in terms of development model (particularly the Java based tools), but the performance considerations were too much to ignore. (Lest anyone accuse me of anti-Java bias, remember that I also develop enterprise Java applications!)

After finding nothing satisfactory that spanned both platforms, I selected the path of developing the software separately for each platform. I selected these tools to start:

Palm platform
  1. Pocket Studio (which I used a few years ago) - unfortunately in early 2003, Pocket Technologies went out of business. Forutnately, the product itself survived, and is now sold by another firm, WinSoft, which also have a "2.0" version in development.
Pocket PC platform

Three to work with:

  1. Microsoft Embedded VB
  2. Embedded VC++
  3. .NET Compact Framework.

The .NET Compact Framework is expected to become the dominant development tool for the PocketPC, and may later perhaps become available for the Palm; so there is hope of a single solution for both at some time in the future. I didn't commit to the .NET Compact Framework initially, until I was able to build a substantial prototype to verify how well it works on "Pocket PC 2002" PDAs, and to verify that it escapes the performance issues of other runtime-based solutions.

At the time I started this I owned two Palm devices and had only a borrowed Pocket PC device, so I created a complete prototype first for the Palm with Pocket Studio, then proceeded with the Pocket PC solution.

(Update, November 2003: I have also, since writing this, completed the production version for the Palm platform, using Pocket Studio.)


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