Creating Apps for New Markets: Exploring the PocketPC Platform
I honestly didn’t think it’d be this easy. Or this foolproof.
I enjoy the Pocket PC platform—so much so that I own two HP iPAQ Pocket PCs. These devices play music, render video, track my deliverables, display the pages of classic books, answer my email. In fact, they do everything a PC does, except break my back with excessive weight.
Can my Pocket PCs help me to grow as a developer, by allowing me to create applications? In my role as a university instructor, I need to demonstrate that coding is useful. My past experiences with unique hardware involved applications written in C, some inline Assembler, maybe a BASIC interface with oddball PEEKs and POKEs. In short, developing apps for custom chips and hardware was painful, and required knowledge of the underlying hardware.
But Visual Studio promises an easier experience. To follow this article, you’ll need a copy of Visual Studio with Smart Device support. No Pocket PC required! My target application will be an attendance tracker. A few of my students have problems with attending classes. They forget to come. Using the stylus interface of my Pocket PC, I want to place a quick check into the check box of an absent student. That’s all—I don’t want to type oddball names (like Traenkenschuh) into the application. I just want to automate a traditional paper form.
The Beginning: Basics
In Visual Studio, create a new project and select Smart Device. If you wanted to build a custom piece of hardware, such as a custom-built attendance device, you could select CE 5.0. Instead, let’s go for Pocket PC (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 Creating a Pocket PC application.
Won’t you need a Pocket PC for this? Nope. Visual Studio will open with an emulated Pocket PC during debugging, and this emulator does a great job of emulating iPAQs. We’ll build the application on the emulator, test with the emulator, and then load onto the iPAQ later. Why? Because loading the changes to the iPAQ is a bit slow.
Okay, let’s discuss layout.