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Building Solutions with the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework: Architecture and Best Practices for Mobile Development

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Building Solutions with the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework: Architecture and Best Practices for Mobile Development


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A focused, practical guide, covering both architecting and implementing effective solutions using the .NET Compact Framework

° The .NET Compact Framework (CF) brings the power of .NET to mobile devices, yet there is very little information on how to use it effectivley

° The number of developers using the .NET CF over the next few years is anticipated to increase greatly

° Covers related important topics such as SQL Server 2000 Windows CE edition


  • Copyright 2004
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 400
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-19788-7
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-19788-7

“If you’ve been looking for one book on the .NET Compact Framework that will teach you everything you need to know, look no further—this is it! Jon and Dan do a wonderful job of covering this content, so that readers are sure to find much enlightenment within these pages.”

Derek Ferguson, Chief Technology Evangelist, Expand Beyond Corporation

“While many technical books focus on API details, this book covers architectures and best practices. It highlights the special concerns for .NET mobile development. It is an excellent book for experienced .NET developers who want to transfer their skills to the red-hot mobility arena.”

Michael Yuan, University of Texas at Austin

“Moving to the .NET Compact Framework is about to become much easier with the aid of this book. The samples and supplied utility code will help you get a running start on your own mobile development projects.”

Kent Sharkey, Program Manager, MSDN

“This book is the starting place for development on devices using the Microsoft Compact Framework. Whether you are doing business or commercial applications, this book is the resource to kick-start your journey into mobile development.”

Stephen Forte, CTO, Corzen, Inc.

“The .NET Compact Framework brings the power of .NET programming to mobile devices. Dan and Jon’s book is an excellent resource to help build your programming skills in the mobility area.”

Kevin Lisota, Product Manager, Mobile Devices Division, Microsoft Corporation

“Mobile applications are truly a new class of applications and having feature-rich development tools and infrastructures like VS .NET and the .NET Compact Framework is only half the battle of learning to build them. It’s great to see Dan and Jon apply their in-depth knowledge of the .NET Compact Framework to cover the important topics that everybody learning to build mobile applications should understand.”

Craig Neable, .NET Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation

“Mobile solutions and their development present new challenges for enterprises, especially with disconnected/synchronization scenarios. Leveraging best practices and planning mobile development properly are essential to the successful implementation. Building Solutions with the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework provides a solid introduction to mobile development and best practices. It is a great resource for experienced architects and developers who are new to mobile solution development.”

Steve Milroy, Solutions Director, Mobility and Emerging Technologies, Immedient Corporation

Whether you are an architect, developer, or manager, Building Solutions with the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework is your guide to creating effective solutions for mobile devices with .NET. Authors Dan Fox and Jon Box walk you through four essential architectural concepts and programming techniques, using extensive examples and code listings to show you how to develop more robust mobile development projects.

The book briefly describes the context, architecture, and features of both the Framework and Smart Device Programmability (SDP). The heart of the book is its in-depth coverage of key architectural concepts, including local data handling, remote data access (RDA) architectures, robust data caching with SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition 2.0 (SQL CE 2.0), and synchronization options. The focus then shifts to localization, security, and deployment, and the final chapter steers you away from potential pitfalls.

You will find helpful pointers to further resources throughout, and a companion Web site includes the source code and links to more information.

This book can be read cover to cover or the focus can be narrowed to key points of interest. It can also be used as a reference, with answers to questions such as:

  • When should you architect and build your applications using the Compact Framework and SDP? Chapter 1
  • What factors besides cost should you consider when planning your company's first Smart Device application? Chapter 4
  • Can RDA allow SQL CE to interact with database products other than SQL Server? Chapter 7
  • How should you handle differences in time zone for users of a world-ready application? Chapter 8
  • How can you overcome the Compact Framework's inability to marshal complex objects within structures? Chapter 11

Both comprehensive and concise, Building Solutions with the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework shows you how to bring the power of .NET to your mobile applications.

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Table of Contents




About the Authors.


1. The Rise of Mobile Devices.

Executive Summary.

The Need for Mobility.

Information Anywhere, Anytime, and on Any Device.

Using Information.

Anywhere and Anytime.

On Any Device.

Microsoft and Mobility.

Operating Systems.


Development Tools.

The Compact Framework and SDP in Context.

The Role of the ASP.NET Mobile Controls.

What's Ahead.

Related Reading.

2. Components of Mobile Development.

Executive Summary.

.NET and Smart Devices.

XML Web Services.

Windows .NET Framework.

Goals of the Compact Framework and SDP.

The .NET Compact Framework.




Project System.

.NET Language Support.

UI Support.



Additional Tools.

What's Ahead.

Related Reading.


3. Accessing Local Data.

Executive Summary.

The Need for Local Data Handling.

Using File I/O.

Reading and Writing Text Files.

Asynchronous File Access.

Manipulating Files and Directories.

Handling XML.

Using the DOM.

Using XML Readers and Writers.

Using XML Writers.

Working with Relational Data.

ADO.NET in the Compact Framework.

Reading and Writing Data.

Displaying Data.

Data Binding.

Manual Binding.

What's Ahead.

Related Reading.

4. Accessing Remote Data.

Executive Summary.

Have PDA, Will Travel.

Wireless Application Factors around Accessing Remote Data.

Application Factors.

Connection Type and Distance.


Battery Power.

Communication Hardware for the Mobile Device.


How the Compact Framework Addresses Accessing Remote Data.

XML Web Services.

Accessing SQL Server Remotely.

Using Pluggable Protocols.

Direct Communication with Sockets.

Communicating with TCP and UDP.

Communicating Using Infrared.

Other Issues in Network Communications.

Compact Framework Asynchronous Capabilities in Networking.

What's Ahead.

Related Reading.

5. Caching Data with SQL Server CE.

Executive Summary.

The Role of SQLCE.

History of SQLCE.

Robust Data Caching.

SQLCE Architecture.

SQL Server CE Engine.

Query Analyzer.

Accessing SQLCE.

SqlServerCe Provider Architecture.

Manipulating Data with SqlServerCe.

Administering SQLCE.


Database Maintenance.

Installation and Deployment.

What's Ahead.

Related Reading.

6. Primitive Synchronization.

Executive Summary.

The Importance of Synchronization.

What ActiveSync Is.

Backup and Restore.

Software Install.

Mobile Explorer.

File Conversion.

Remote Communication.

Connection Notification.

The ActiveSync Architecture.

ActiveSync Service Manager.

ActiveSync Providers.

Creating a Partnership.

Developing ActiveSync Applications.

A Managed Application Using File Synchronization.

Utilizing RAPI in a Managed Application.

Considerations for a Pass-Through Application.

What's Ahead.

Related Reading.

7. Data Synchronization.

Executive Summary.

SQLCE Synchronization.

Connectivity Architecture.

Connectivity Features.


Features and Scenarios.


Using RDA.

Merge Replication.

Features and Scenarios.


Using Replication.

What's Ahead.

Related Reading.


8. Localization.

Executive Summary.

The Need for Globalization and Localization.

Guidelines for Globalization and Localization.

Globalization and Localization Support.

Understanding Cultures.

Localizing Data.

Using Resources and Satellite Assemblies.

Other Localization Issues.

Localized Exception Strings.

Testing World-Ready Applications.

What's Ahead.

Related Reading.

9. Securing Compact Framework Solutions.

Executive Summary.

Security Issues and Principles.

Securing the Device.


Antivirus Protection.


Securing the Application.


Data Protection.

Securing User Input.

Securing Communications.

Secure Sockets Layer.

Virtual Private Networks.

Wired Equivalent Privacy.

Custom SOAP Extensions.

What's Ahead.

Related Reading.

10. Packaging and Deployment.

Executive Summary.

Packaging and Deploying in the Compact Framework.

Versioning in the Compact Framework.

Private Assemblies.

Shared Assemblies.

Packaging Compact Framework Applications.

Setting Project and File Options.

Creating a CAB File.

Deployment and Installation.

Using ActiveSync.

Using a Web Site.

Using a Storage Card.

Using a File Share.

Setting Up Autodeployment.

What's Ahead.

Related Reading.

11. Developer Challenges.

Executive Summary.

Issues and Challenges.

Augmenting the Compact Framework.

Using PInvoke.

Additional Tools.

Measuring and Improving Performance.

Measuring Performance.

Enabling Performance Statistics.

Performance Issues.

Improving Performance.

A Final Word.

Related Reading.



Welcome to the new age of rapid application development (RAD) for mobile devices!

The Visual Studio .NET 2003 and the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework enable a whole new era of smart device application development. The .NET Compact Framework greatly simplifies the process of creating and deploying applications to mobile devices, while also allowing you to take full advantage of the device that you are targeting.

Developers of all types, ranging from hobbyists to enterprise developers, will benefit from these simplified processes and will enjoy a development experience on par with desktop and server application development. Dan and Jon have done a great job of introducing these new mobile development technologies to developers from all backgrounds. Seasoned desktop and server .NET developers and experienced mobile developers alike will benefit from this book.

This book will teach you everything you need to know to build fast, reliable applications for devices.

Welcome to the .NET mobile community!

Jonathan Wells
Technical Product Manager
.NET Compact Framework
Microsoft Corporation
October 2003


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