PDA / SmartPhone development

Discussion in 'ASP .Net Mobile' started by Gareth Sharp, Jul 5, 2005.

  1. Gareth Sharp

    Gareth Sharp Guest

    Hi there

    I am very new to the mobile environment, and have a couple of newbie
    questions that I would really appreciate some advice on before we start our
    project.

    We want to write an application that is essentially a data logger - data is
    sent to the PDA / SmartPhone, it is updated and then sent back. Not sure if
    this is going to be via the internet, or a cradle, or what. Not too fussed
    about this at the moment. We will specify Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003.

    What is the difference between writing an app for a PDA or for a SmartPhone?

    How are applications rolled out and updated (if necessary)?

    How can data be transferred to and from the device?

    Would it be easier to write a small app, or something to run in a web
    browser?

    Is this possible to run a web application on a PDA or a SmartPhone?

    Could anyone recommend a specific PDA and/or SmartPhone to use as a decent
    test platform?

    We are moving forward with Visual Studio .net (I've ordered the Enterprise
    Developer edition) - does this give me everything that we need?

    To give a bit of background, we have been developing in VB 5 for a number of
    years, with Access (DAO) and SQL (ADO) back end databases, and are just
    taking tentative steps towards moving forward with Visual Studio .net (I've
    ordered the Enterprise Developer edition)

    Any advice/pointers would be massively appreciated.

    All the best!
    Gareth Sharp
    Technical Director
    Paxton Computers Ltd
    website: http://www.paxsoft.co.uk
    eMail: mailto:
    Gareth Sharp, Jul 5, 2005
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. Gareth,

    I'll answer some of your questions, but I strongly encourage you to try out
    a variety of devices for yourself to determine which you'd like to target
    with your app.

    For starters, one important difference between Smartphone and PocketPC
    devices is that Smartphones don't have a touch screen. This means that some
    visual controls such as buttons aren't present. On the other hand, they do
    have physical buttons which can be pressed to provide data entry into text
    controls. You just need to try them out and see which will work best for the
    type of data you intend to collect.

    Another important difference is that until the Windows Mobile 5.0
    Smartphones begin to appear, SQL CE is not an option for data storage, so
    you'll need to consider something else such as XML or CSV files. Pre-WM5.0
    Smartphones also won't run .NET Compact Framework v.2 when it is released.
    This may not seem like a big deal now, but .NetCFv2 is faster and more
    full-featured than the current shipping version, so you may want to consider
    that limitation. Neither of these limitations applies to currently shipping
    PocketPC devices since they support SQL CE and will also support .NetCFv2.

    The easiest way to move data to/from the device is by using ActiveSync. You
    can even write your own desktop app using the Remote API that controls how
    the data is transferred. If you choose this route, you'll want to use either
    XML or CSV files. If you use SQL CE to store your data on the device, you'll
    need to use either merge replication or RDA with your SQL Server or web
    services, and all of these approaches require a web server somewhere for the
    "plumbing".

    Visual Studio 2003 Pro and above provides the tools you need. Since you have
    a VB background, you'll probably want to use VB.Net. It is possible to write
    a web browser app, but your users probably won't like it and it won't
    necessarily be easier for you to write compared with a smart client app. Be
    sure to try out the mobile samples that come with Visual Studio - you can
    test them in the emulators without having a physical device to get an idea
    how they work, but be aware that the emulators are generally quite a bit
    slower than the actual devices will be.

    I hope this gives you some ideas to help you get started. In addition to
    handling and trying out various devices, I'd also suggest browsing in your
    favorite bookstore at books devoted to to Windows Mobile development. Also
    check out www.opennetcf.org for free code and for book recommendations.

    Ginny Caughey
    ..NET Compact Framework MVP

    "Gareth Sharp" <> wrote in message
    news:dadp1i$il0$1$...
    > Hi there
    >
    > I am very new to the mobile environment, and have a couple of newbie
    > questions that I would really appreciate some advice on before we start
    > our
    > project.
    >
    > We want to write an application that is essentially a data logger - data
    > is
    > sent to the PDA / SmartPhone, it is updated and then sent back. Not sure
    > if
    > this is going to be via the internet, or a cradle, or what. Not too
    > fussed
    > about this at the moment. We will specify Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003.
    >
    > What is the difference between writing an app for a PDA or for a
    > SmartPhone?
    >
    > How are applications rolled out and updated (if necessary)?
    >
    > How can data be transferred to and from the device?
    >
    > Would it be easier to write a small app, or something to run in a web
    > browser?
    >
    > Is this possible to run a web application on a PDA or a SmartPhone?
    >
    > Could anyone recommend a specific PDA and/or SmartPhone to use as a decent
    > test platform?
    >
    > We are moving forward with Visual Studio .net (I've ordered the Enterprise
    > Developer edition) - does this give me everything that we need?
    >
    > To give a bit of background, we have been developing in VB 5 for a number
    > of
    > years, with Access (DAO) and SQL (ADO) back end databases, and are just
    > taking tentative steps towards moving forward with Visual Studio .net
    > (I've
    > ordered the Enterprise Developer edition)
    >
    > Any advice/pointers would be massively appreciated.
    >
    > All the best!
    > Gareth Sharp
    > Technical Director
    > Paxton Computers Ltd
    > website: http://www.paxsoft.co.uk
    > eMail: mailto:
    >
    >
    >
    >
    Ginny Caughey [MVP], Jul 5, 2005
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. I also thank you for the reply :)

    --

    Bruno Alexandre
    Dep Informática do Grupo Filtrarte

    Av Genereal Humberto Delgado, 91
    Vila Verde
    2705-887 Terrugem SNT
    PORTUGAL

    Tel. +351 219 608 130
    Tlm. +351 914 461 138
    Fax +351 219 613 881
    @.
    www www.filtrarte.com | www.filtrarte.pt
    Bruno Alexandre, Jul 5, 2005
    #3
  4. Gareth Sharp

    Seefor Guest

    > Pre-WM5.0 Smartphones also won't run .NET Compact Framework v.2 when it
    > is released. This may not seem like a big deal now, but .NetCFv2 is faster
    > and more full-featured than the current shipping version, so you may want
    > to consider that limitation. Neither of these limitations applies to
    > currently shipping PocketPC devices since they support SQL CE and will
    > also support .NetCFv2.


    Does .NETCFv2 only work on Pocket PC 2002 ? i.e. not on older Pocket PC's?
    Seefor, Jul 5, 2005
    #4
  5. ..NetCFv2 will not be supported on PocketPC devices prior to 2003. It will
    work on PocketPC2003, PocketPC2003SE, Windows Mobile 5.0 PocketPCs and
    Smartphones, and CE version 5 and higher devices.

    Ginny Caughey
    ..NET Compact Framework MVP

    "Seefor" <> wrote in message
    news:p8zye.63326$...
    >> Pre-WM5.0 Smartphones also won't run .NET Compact Framework v.2 when it
    >> is released. This may not seem like a big deal now, but .NetCFv2 is
    >> faster and more full-featured than the current shipping version, so you
    >> may want to consider that limitation. Neither of these limitations
    >> applies to currently shipping PocketPC devices since they support SQL CE
    >> and will also support .NetCFv2.

    >
    > Does .NETCFv2 only work on Pocket PC 2002 ? i.e. not on older Pocket
    > PC's?
    >
    >
    >
    Ginny Caughey [MVP], Jul 5, 2005
    #5
  6. Ginny Caughey gave you good advice. That leaves me freer to express my
    definitely biased opinions.

    My company makes a suite of programs. We have mobile (data collection)
    applications for every version of Windows except Smartphones (more
    below). We have transfer and analysis programs that run on "big"
    Windows, and can work with just about any database (Access, Oracle,
    ....). Our base price is very low; I really do think we are often less
    expensive than writing your own.

    I regularly build for Smartphone. But just to make sure I can, in case
    we do ever decide to support it/them. I think the lack of any sort of
    stylus is way too limiting.

    Getting the user interface right for data collection is very
    important. Especially for small screens and/or reluctant users. We
    think that means avoiding text input as much as possible. Partly
    because text input is slow, and partly because it introduces
    variations that cause problems for analysis (too many ways to say the
    same thing).

    Pushbuttons and radio buttons are wonderful for very short lists.

    Pick lists are great for longer lists. But only if they can be kept
    small, which means providing separate lists for each item. We can
    update these lists dynamically and automatically, based on SQL
    queries.

    Providing a tool to let users, or their immediate supervisors, create
    and modify forms is a big help. These are the folks who really know
    what data need to be collected. If the tool modifies input data,
    rather than the actual programs, quality assurance is much less of an
    issue. Our tool lets "authors" specify the type of input (text, list,
    button, numeric) for each input item.

    Data logging means recording actual data, plus date/time stamp,
    probably an operator ID, Also room for comments (longer description
    and/or likely action that should follow). And perhaps other details
    easily overlooked without serious thought and/or a few revisions.

    Robust data transfer can be subtle. You need to make sure everything
    gets transferred without loss or duplication. If you are using fragile
    connections (anything that uses radio waves), you need to handle
    broken connections. RAPI over wires has been very reliable. We also
    support FTP and network shares.


    On Tue, 5 Jul 2005 12:00:21 +0100, "Gareth Sharp" <>
    wrote:

    >Hi there
    >
    >I am very new to the mobile environment, and have a couple of newbie
    >questions that I would really appreciate some advice on before we start our
    >project.
    >
    >We want to write an application that is essentially a data logger - data is
    >sent to the PDA / SmartPhone, it is updated and then sent back. Not sure if
    >this is going to be via the internet, or a cradle, or what. Not too fussed
    >about this at the moment. We will specify Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003.
    >
    >What is the difference between writing an app for a PDA or for a SmartPhone?
    >
    >How are applications rolled out and updated (if necessary)?
    >
    >How can data be transferred to and from the device?
    >
    >Would it be easier to write a small app, or something to run in a web
    >browser?
    >
    >Is this possible to run a web application on a PDA or a SmartPhone?
    >
    >Could anyone recommend a specific PDA and/or SmartPhone to use as a decent
    >test platform?
    >
    >We are moving forward with Visual Studio .net (I've ordered the Enterprise
    >Developer edition) - does this give me everything that we need?
    >
    >To give a bit of background, we have been developing in VB 5 for a number of
    >years, with Access (DAO) and SQL (ADO) back end databases, and are just
    >taking tentative steps towards moving forward with Visual Studio .net (I've
    >ordered the Enterprise Developer edition)
    >
    >Any advice/pointers would be massively appreciated.
    >
    >All the best!
    >Gareth Sharp
    >Technical Director
    >Paxton Computers Ltd
    >website: http://www.paxsoft.co.uk
    >eMail: mailto:
    >
    >
    >


    -----------------------------------------
    To reply to me, remove the underscores (_) from my email address (and please indicate which newsgroup and message).

    Robert E. Zaret, eMVP
    PenFact, Inc.
    500 Harrison Ave., Suite 3R
    Boston, MA 02118
    www.penfact.com
    r_z_aret@pen_fact.com, Jul 6, 2005
    #6
  7. Gareth Sharp

    Gareth Sharp Guest

    Hi Ginny

    Many thanks for the advice. This certainly provides food for thought!

    All the best!
    Gareth

    "Ginny Caughey [MVP]" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Gareth,
    >
    > I'll answer some of your questions, but I strongly encourage you to try

    out
    > a variety of devices for yourself to determine which you'd like to target
    > with your app.
    >
    > For starters, one important difference between Smartphone and PocketPC
    > devices is that Smartphones don't have a touch screen. This means that

    some
    > visual controls such as buttons aren't present. On the other hand, they do
    > have physical buttons which can be pressed to provide data entry into text
    > controls. You just need to try them out and see which will work best for

    the
    > type of data you intend to collect.
    >
    > Another important difference is that until the Windows Mobile 5.0
    > Smartphones begin to appear, SQL CE is not an option for data storage, so
    > you'll need to consider something else such as XML or CSV files. Pre-WM5.0
    > Smartphones also won't run .NET Compact Framework v.2 when it is released.
    > This may not seem like a big deal now, but .NetCFv2 is faster and more
    > full-featured than the current shipping version, so you may want to

    consider
    > that limitation. Neither of these limitations applies to currently

    shipping
    > PocketPC devices since they support SQL CE and will also support .NetCFv2.
    >
    > The easiest way to move data to/from the device is by using ActiveSync.

    You
    > can even write your own desktop app using the Remote API that controls how
    > the data is transferred. If you choose this route, you'll want to use

    either
    > XML or CSV files. If you use SQL CE to store your data on the device,

    you'll
    > need to use either merge replication or RDA with your SQL Server or web
    > services, and all of these approaches require a web server somewhere for

    the
    > "plumbing".
    >
    > Visual Studio 2003 Pro and above provides the tools you need. Since you

    have
    > a VB background, you'll probably want to use VB.Net. It is possible to

    write
    > a web browser app, but your users probably won't like it and it won't
    > necessarily be easier for you to write compared with a smart client app.

    Be
    > sure to try out the mobile samples that come with Visual Studio - you can
    > test them in the emulators without having a physical device to get an idea
    > how they work, but be aware that the emulators are generally quite a bit
    > slower than the actual devices will be.
    >
    > I hope this gives you some ideas to help you get started. In addition to
    > handling and trying out various devices, I'd also suggest browsing in your
    > favorite bookstore at books devoted to to Windows Mobile development. Also
    > check out www.opennetcf.org for free code and for book recommendations.
    >
    > Ginny Caughey
    > .NET Compact Framework MVP
    >
    > "Gareth Sharp" <> wrote in message
    > news:dadp1i$il0$1$...
    > > Hi there
    > >
    > > I am very new to the mobile environment, and have a couple of newbie
    > > questions that I would really appreciate some advice on before we start
    > > our
    > > project.
    > >
    > > We want to write an application that is essentially a data logger - data
    > > is
    > > sent to the PDA / SmartPhone, it is updated and then sent back. Not

    sure
    > > if
    > > this is going to be via the internet, or a cradle, or what. Not too
    > > fussed
    > > about this at the moment. We will specify Microsoft Windows Mobile

    2003.
    > >
    > > What is the difference between writing an app for a PDA or for a
    > > SmartPhone?
    > >
    > > How are applications rolled out and updated (if necessary)?
    > >
    > > How can data be transferred to and from the device?
    > >
    > > Would it be easier to write a small app, or something to run in a web
    > > browser?
    > >
    > > Is this possible to run a web application on a PDA or a SmartPhone?
    > >
    > > Could anyone recommend a specific PDA and/or SmartPhone to use as a

    decent
    > > test platform?
    > >
    > > We are moving forward with Visual Studio .net (I've ordered the

    Enterprise
    > > Developer edition) - does this give me everything that we need?
    > >
    > > To give a bit of background, we have been developing in VB 5 for a

    number
    > > of
    > > years, with Access (DAO) and SQL (ADO) back end databases, and are just
    > > taking tentative steps towards moving forward with Visual Studio .net
    > > (I've
    > > ordered the Enterprise Developer edition)
    > >
    > > Any advice/pointers would be massively appreciated.
    > >
    > > All the best!
    > > Gareth Sharp
    > > Technical Director
    > > Paxton Computers Ltd
    > > website: http://www.paxsoft.co.uk
    > > eMail: mailto:
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >

    >
    >
    Gareth Sharp, Jul 7, 2005
    #7
  8. Gareth Sharp

    Gareth Sharp Guest

    Hello there

    Thanks for that. If there's anything I think you can help us with, I shall
    be in touch.

    All the best!
    Gareth


    <r_z_aret@pen_fact.com> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Ginny Caughey gave you good advice. That leaves me freer to express my
    > definitely biased opinions.
    >
    > My company makes a suite of programs. We have mobile (data collection)
    > applications for every version of Windows except Smartphones (more
    > below). We have transfer and analysis programs that run on "big"
    > Windows, and can work with just about any database (Access, Oracle,
    > ...). Our base price is very low; I really do think we are often less
    > expensive than writing your own.
    >
    > I regularly build for Smartphone. But just to make sure I can, in case
    > we do ever decide to support it/them. I think the lack of any sort of
    > stylus is way too limiting.
    >
    > Getting the user interface right for data collection is very
    > important. Especially for small screens and/or reluctant users. We
    > think that means avoiding text input as much as possible. Partly
    > because text input is slow, and partly because it introduces
    > variations that cause problems for analysis (too many ways to say the
    > same thing).
    >
    > Pushbuttons and radio buttons are wonderful for very short lists.
    >
    > Pick lists are great for longer lists. But only if they can be kept
    > small, which means providing separate lists for each item. We can
    > update these lists dynamically and automatically, based on SQL
    > queries.
    >
    > Providing a tool to let users, or their immediate supervisors, create
    > and modify forms is a big help. These are the folks who really know
    > what data need to be collected. If the tool modifies input data,
    > rather than the actual programs, quality assurance is much less of an
    > issue. Our tool lets "authors" specify the type of input (text, list,
    > button, numeric) for each input item.
    >
    > Data logging means recording actual data, plus date/time stamp,
    > probably an operator ID, Also room for comments (longer description
    > and/or likely action that should follow). And perhaps other details
    > easily overlooked without serious thought and/or a few revisions.
    >
    > Robust data transfer can be subtle. You need to make sure everything
    > gets transferred without loss or duplication. If you are using fragile
    > connections (anything that uses radio waves), you need to handle
    > broken connections. RAPI over wires has been very reliable. We also
    > support FTP and network shares.
    >
    >
    > On Tue, 5 Jul 2005 12:00:21 +0100, "Gareth Sharp" <>
    > wrote:
    >
    > >Hi there
    > >
    > >I am very new to the mobile environment, and have a couple of newbie
    > >questions that I would really appreciate some advice on before we start

    our
    > >project.
    > >
    > >We want to write an application that is essentially a data logger - data

    is
    > >sent to the PDA / SmartPhone, it is updated and then sent back. Not sure

    if
    > >this is going to be via the internet, or a cradle, or what. Not too

    fussed
    > >about this at the moment. We will specify Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003.
    > >
    > >What is the difference between writing an app for a PDA or for a

    SmartPhone?
    > >
    > >How are applications rolled out and updated (if necessary)?
    > >
    > >How can data be transferred to and from the device?
    > >
    > >Would it be easier to write a small app, or something to run in a web
    > >browser?
    > >
    > >Is this possible to run a web application on a PDA or a SmartPhone?
    > >
    > >Could anyone recommend a specific PDA and/or SmartPhone to use as a

    decent
    > >test platform?
    > >
    > >We are moving forward with Visual Studio .net (I've ordered the

    Enterprise
    > >Developer edition) - does this give me everything that we need?
    > >
    > >To give a bit of background, we have been developing in VB 5 for a number

    of
    > >years, with Access (DAO) and SQL (ADO) back end databases, and are just
    > >taking tentative steps towards moving forward with Visual Studio .net

    (I've
    > >ordered the Enterprise Developer edition)
    > >
    > >Any advice/pointers would be massively appreciated.
    > >
    > >All the best!
    > >Gareth Sharp
    > >Technical Director
    > >Paxton Computers Ltd
    > >website: http://www.paxsoft.co.uk
    > >eMail: mailto:
    > >
    > >
    > >

    >
    > -----------------------------------------
    > To reply to me, remove the underscores (_) from my email address (and

    please indicate which newsgroup and message).
    >
    > Robert E. Zaret, eMVP
    > PenFact, Inc.
    > 500 Harrison Ave., Suite 3R
    > Boston, MA 02118
    > www.penfact.com
    Gareth Sharp, Jul 7, 2005
    #8
    1. Advertising

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