TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Mar 98 Factory Floor

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 3
Column Tag: From The Factory Floor

CodeWarrior for PalmPilot

by Dave Mark, Eric Cloninger, and the Metrowerks PalmPilot development team, ©1997 by Metrowerks, Inc., all rights reserved.

This month, we're going to talk with Eric Cloninger and the rest of the CodeWarrior for PalmPilot development team. In case you haven't seen one, the PalmPilot is a handheld organizer that offers contact management and calendaring functions, along with the ability to run 3rd party applications. Metrowerks CodeWarrior for PalmPilot lets you use your Macintosh to develop your own PalmPilot applications.

Eric Cloninger is the Engineering Manager for "Scribbly Things" at Metrowerks. He can be reached at ericc@metrowerks.com. When he isn't investigating the mysteries of software development, Eric is hard at work playing with his four month old son, Elijah. In the few hours a week left to his own devices, he can be found concocting recipes for homebrewed beer, playing softball, or watching the Colorado Rockies blow it in the ninth inning. At night, he dreams of tall mountains, blue skies, and deep powder.

Andrew Southwick is the Constructor for PalmPilot developer. Andrew and his evil twin, Werdna, can be encountered on Quake servers worldwide. Mark Corry works on the Mac- and Windows-hosted debuggers for PalmPilot. When he isn't tinkering with the Metrowerks Debugger, he's tinkering with a '29 Model A Ford.

Honggang Zhang works on the Windows-hosted debuggers for PalmPilot, Windows CE, Windows NT, Windows 95, and Java. Away from work, she's applying her knowledge of chemistry to build the perfect carrot cake recipe.

Alex Harper provided Quality Assurance for CodeWarrior for PalmPilot. Although he has recently moved on to other projects at Metrowerks, he can still be found lurking about the PalmPilot news groups and harassing the CodeWarrior engineers to make sure his pet features make it into the next release.

Dave: Tell me about the PalmPilot architecture?

Eric: The PalmPilot uses a Motorola 68328 chip. It's so similar to the 680x0 chip used in the Macintosh that most developers won't notice the difference. The device itself is roughly the size of a deck of playing cards and fits in your shirt pocket (or it would if that stylish CodeWarrior shirt you are wearing had pockets). It has a pressure-sensitive display area that responds to a stylus as well as a data entry area where the user enters characters.

Unlike the Newton, the PalmPilot doesn't try to interpret the users' handwriting. The PalmPilot uses Graffiti -- a system of strokes that are roughly equivalent to the block alphabet. It takes about an hour to figure out the letters and numbers and a few more hours to learn the special characters. There is also a virtual keyboard that pops up on request for those obscure characters (like how to get a grave accent character over an 'e').

Currently, the device has a black and white screen. Older models, the 1000 and 5000, came with either 128K or 512K of RAM. The newer models, the Personal and Professional, contain either 512K or 1MB of RAM. The Personal and Professional offer a TCP/IP stack and the Professional has a built-in email client.

As an organizer, the PalmPilot is useful. It has a date book, address book, to-do list, and memo pad in ROM. If that was all it was, it wouldn't be any more interesting than something Radio Shack sells for $39.95. The great thing about the PalmPilot is that a developer can write an application for the device and upload it to the device quickly and easily.

When the user connects the device to their Mac (or PC) with a special serial cable and presses the "HotSync" button on the front panel, the device synchronizes itself with the data on the host computer. The mechanism that performs the synchronization is called a "conduit". Other developers can take advantage of conduits to synchronize their own data.

Macintosh programmers will recognize the way things are done on the Pilot. The 68328 chip (also called the "Dragonball") is segmented the same way the 680x0 chips were. This may seem like a limitation, but it doesn't affect most people because a really large Pilot application is 50K. "A-Traps" are used to make ROM calls just like the 68K Macs did. The PalmPilot runs what is essentially a single-threaded, single-tasking operating system. Does this sound familiar?

Some people describe the Pilot as a Macintosh, circa 1984. I understand the analogy because the device is very similar to the original Macs, but it doesn't give the designers the credit they deserve. The Palm engineers did a great job building an OS that met their design criteria, and, with CodeWarrior for PalmPilot, developers have great tools for writing quality applications for the platform.

Dave: What is the PalmPilot runtime model?

Eric: Before we discuss the specifics of writing code for the PalmPilot, it's important for potential developers to understand how the device operates. The PalmPilot runs PalmOS. The PalmOS is designed to run on many devices, although to date, the PalmPilot and the IBM WorkPad are the only ones that use it. It's conceivable that the PalmOS could be scaled to operate other consumer devices, such as a car navigation system.

The device contains a CPU, some memory, a serial port, and the user controls. That's pretty much it. There is no disk drive, keyboard, printer port, etc. Further, the device never truly shuts off. When left idle or "shut off" from the power button, the device simply switches into a low power consumption mode, similar to "sleep" on a PowerBook. The application that is running at that time is still running, it's just sitting idle in its event loop. The next time the user hits a button, the processor switches back to active mode, and the application receives its next event.

Another major difference from the desktop world is that everything about a PalmPilot application (data, code, resources, etc.) is always stored in RAM. And since the RAM on device is static, changes from one program launch to another remain in place. Desktop application developers, who are used to the operating system loading a fresh copy of their application from disk every time the application is run, will find this to be a new experience. A problem with new PalmOS developers is to unintentionally modify memory where program code resides. In fact, we take advantage of this feature to create breakpoints for the debugger. The PalmOS includes a set of APIs which isolates program code from direct memory accesses, which helps to prevent these kinds of problems.

The only PalmPilot application development languages that are currently available from Metrowerks are 68K assembly and C. Pascal is not available because a Pascal SDK hasn't been built and Java(tm) byte codes are not feasible because the device doesn't have enough memory or CPU power to run a full Java virtual machine (Java fans don't despair, see the discussion of Jump at the end of this article). Berardino Baratta has made C++ support available with the most recent release of our compiler (version 4, due in January), but with no library support. Developers can use the language, but there are no built-in classes for strings, streams, etc.

Dave: What is the Pilot development model?

Eric: A PalmPilot application consists of many resources. Some of these resources are code, some of them are data, and some of them are visual elements. Is this beginning to sound familiar?

A PalmPilot developer will edit a form that contains user interface elements like buttons, lists, check boxes, etc. They can edit the form with ResEdit templates or visually with Constructor for PalmPilot. Constructor generates a header file that has the symbolic names and values of all the forms and user interface elements.

The user application begins at PilotMain(). PilotMain() receives a command, some command-specific data, and some flags describing how the application was launched. Inside PilotMain(), the application repeatedly calls EvtGetEvent(). As events are retrieved, they are dispatched by the application to the system event handler, the menu event handler, the application event handler, and the form event handler. The system, menu, and form event handlers are part of the operating system. The application event handler is a large 'switch' statement that handles application events.

The following code snippet, adapted from the 'Starter' example project, shows some PalmPilot event handling code.

DWord PilotMain( Word cmd, Ptr cmdPBP, Word launchFlags) 
{
  if (cmd == sysAppLaunchCmdNormalLaunch) {
    FrmGotoForm(MainForm);
    AppEventLoop();
  }
 
  return 0;
}

Boolean MainFormHandleEvent(EventPtr eventP) 
{
  if (eventP->eType == frmOpenEvent) {
    FormPtr frmP = FrmGetActiveForm();
    FrmDrawForm(frmP);
    return true;
  }
 
  return false;
}

Boolean AppHandleEvent( EventPtr eventP) 
{
  if (eventP->eType == frmLoadEvent) {
    Word formId = eventP->data.frmLoad.formID;
    FormPtr frmP = FrmInitForm(formId);
    FrmSetActiveForm(frmP);
    if (formId == MainForm) {
      FrmSetEventHandler(frmP, MainFormHandleEvent);
      return true;
    }
  }
 

  return false;
}

void AppEventLoop(void) 
{
  Word error;
  EventType event;
  do {
    EvtGetEvent(&event, evtWaitForever);
    if (!SysHandleEvent(&event))
      if (! MenuHandleEvent(0, &event, &error))
        if (! AppHandleEvent(&event))
          FrmDispatchEvent(&event);
  } while (event.eType != appStopEvent);
}

PalmPilot code is pretty easy to read. The PalmOS SDK designers did developers a favor when they decided to prefix every OS function call with a three or four letter code for the manager that implements the function call and the header file that defines the call. For example, EvtGetEvent() is in the Event Manager and is defined in Event.h. FrmDispatchEvent() is in the Form Manager and is defined in Form.h.

Dave: What are the differences between the Pilot event model and the Mac event model?

Eric: The event models are very similar. The events that the application processes are similar to Mac events: events telling the application to launch, events describing data entry, events describing menu selection, and events describing "taps" (the PalmOS equivalent to mouse clicks). There are events that are specific to the PalmOS, such as the event telling the application that the device was reset. A Mac programmer who has written event loop code will feel comfortable with the PalmOS event model after going through the tutorials that are included on the CodeWarrior for PalmPilot CD.

Dave: Andrew, can you tell me about Constructor for PalmPilot?

Andrew: Constructor for PalmPilot lets the user edit PalmPilot program resources. The application should look familiar to anyone who has used Constructor for PowerPlant. Figure 1 shows the form window, which is where most editing takes place.

Figure 1. Constructor for PalmPilot "form" editor.

In this editor, the user edits a form by dragging user interface elements from the catalog onto the Layout Appearance area which mimics the PalmPilot screen. The user can modify the properties of the elements by double clicking on the element. When the user saves the form, Constructor for PalmPilot will generate a header file with symbol names for each of the elements in the form. Constructor for PalmPilot also has an icon editor for editing the application icon, a bitmap editor for editing images, and editors for menus, menu bars, strings, string lists, and alerts.

Dave: What differences are there between CodeWarrior Pro and CodeWarrior for Pilot?

Eric: CodeWarrior for PalmPilot is a much less complicated package than CodeWarrior Pro. For PalmPilot, we use the same IDE, Debugger, compiler, and linker that ship with Pro. We add a post linker called PilotRez that takes the output from the linker and modifies it to conform to the PalmOS application format. We also ship Constructor for PalmPilot, which Andrew described above. That's pretty much it. We throw in some documentation covering the API, some example projects, a 20-chapter tutorial, and a PalmOS cookbook. A full install of the current version (Release 3) takes about 45 MB of disk space and CodeWarrior for PalmPilot can be installed on the same Macintosh as CodeWarrior Pro.

Dave: What about debugging?

Eric: Developers can debug their applications in several ways: on the device itself, with a simulator on the Mac, or with an emulator on Windows and Macintosh.

Mac programmers have an advantage over their counterparts on Windows because the Macintosh version of the PalmOS SDK includes a PalmPilot simulator that runs on 68K and PowerPC Macintoshes. The simulator is a library that is linked against the user code to create a Macintosh application that behaves like a PalmPilot. The application can be debugged with the standard Macintosh debugger. There are a number of diagnostic tools that are included with the simulator, so by the time the developer is ready to deploy to the device, most of the debugging is done.

Mark: The simulator library simulates conditions on the PalmPilot as close as it can, but there will be bugs that won't show up until they are executed on the device. For that situation. developers can debug directly to the PalmPilot. The Metrowerks debugger has been adapted to debug the PalmPilot via the serial port. The process of debugging is essentially the same as debugging the simulator -- the developer can set breakpoints, evaluate variables, step through code, etc. The process is slower because each action requires data be sent across the serial connection to the device.

Eric: Debugging to the PalmPilot is not that difficult -- I've spent the last eight months debugging this way. There are some tricks that I've learned along the way to make it easier, but a developer who knows how to debug the Macintosh won't have any problems debugging the PalmPilot.

Honggang: Windows developers who want to debug away from the device also have options. There is an application that runs on Windows called CoPilot. CoPilot is a PalmPilot emulator, derived from the old Amiga emulator. Since it is an emulator, the user must acquire a copy of the PalmOS ROM image from their PalmPilot. Once the user has a working CoPilot, they may debug their application with the Metrowerks Debugger or they can use CoPilot itself to debug their application. Several versions of CoPilot are also available for the PowerMac.

Alex: Retrieving the PalmPilot ROM currently requires that you actually have a PalmPilot device. Some users have questioned the legality of retrieving a ROM image. It is not our place to comment on the legal issues, but we can say that Palm has never objected to developers who own a PalmPilot using a ROM image to help debug. 3Com has indicated they are looking for ways to supply PalmPilot developers with a debug-only ROM image.

Dave: So, what applications have you written?

Eric: My first PalmPilot application, Dot Dot Two, was three lines long and it put the device in a mode where it is ready to debug. Since then, I've been redesigning and writing a program I wrote for my PowerBook that lets me score baseball and softball games (actually, it lets my wife, Jackie, score my softball games). The PalmPilot is a great data-gatherer and it will be perfect for this.

Dave: You've told me the good news, what's the bad news?

Eric: The bad news isn't that bad...

The conduit SDK, which we ship with CodeWarrior, is only available for Microsoft Windows. Also, as of the most recent version, the Conduit SDK can only be developed with Microsoft Visual C++ 4.1. No other version will work. 3Com is currently working to update the Conduit SDK to Visual C 5.0. Support for other Windows compilers, including CodeWarrior for Windows, is planned for future releases. Mac developers who want to write conduits currently have no opportunity to do so, although Palm may offer a Mac Conduit SDK at a later date.

CodeWarrior for PalmPilot, just like the PalmOS itself, is an ever-changing product. The IDE, Debugger, compiler, and linker are derived from our Mac 68k tools, which have a history of stability. Constructor for PalmPilot is a new product and it hasn't been released in its final form yet. It's very usable, but we recognize that there are a few more features to add and a few more bugs to kill. Constructor for PalmPilot requires a little more care than Constructor for PowerPlant but it's progressing nicely.

Dave: What kind of resources are available for the aspiring Pilot programmer?

Eric: The new PalmPilot programmer has a wealth of information at their fingertips. We ship the OS documentation, tutorials, and FAQs on CodeWarrior for PalmPilot. These are a good start, but there is so much more. From the very start, there was an active PalmPilot developer community on the InterNet and the people in that community are willing to share their knowledge, experience, and pain.

These are the places I'd start:

  • http://www.massena.com - This is Darrin Massena's PalmPilot programming site. Darrin is one of the people that make the platform successful. Before CodeWarrior was available, developers who wanted to write for the platform could use Darrin's 'pila' assembler and 'pilrc' resource compiler to write their applications.
  • news.massena.com - Darrin Massena also runs a private news server. There are (at last count) six news groups on his server covering PalmPilot development, including one for CodeWarrior. Al Rincon and I patrol this group and answer questions as they arise.
  • comp.sys.palmtops.pilot & alt.comp.sys.palmtops.pilot - These are UseNet newsgroups for the PalmPilot. The 'alt' group was created and used extensively before the official 'comp' group could be created. Both are still in use today although most of the discussions do not pertain to software development.
  • http://www.roadcoders.com - RoadCoders is a site for developers of all mobile platforms: PalmPilot, Newton, Windows CE, etc.
  • http://www.wademan.com - Wade Hatler writes a number of programming FAQs.
  • http://www.pilotgear.com/ - Pilot Gear is a commercial site where visitors can download freeware and shareware as well as purchase commercial applications, aluminum cases, custom styluses, and other PalmPilot goods. The site can be searched or browsed. It's very similar to the MIT hyperarchive of Mac shareware, only with a lot more polish.
  • http://www.hewgill.com/pilot/index.html - Greg Hewgill is another person whose contributions to the PalmPilot development community are numerous. Greg wrote CoPilot, the Windows-hosted PalmPilot emulator. He also wrote Jump, which compiles Java classes to 68K assembly.
  • http://w3.teaser.fr/~mpollet/Zilot - Zilot is a PowerMac port of the CoPilot emulator.
  • http://www.yahoo.com - There's a ton of stuff on Yahoo about Pilot. Roll up your pant legs and jump on in!
  • http://www.metrowerks.com/ - This is more than just a shameless plug for Metrowerks. Developers who want to try out PalmPilot development should pull down the PalmPilot Lite tools from our web site. With the PalmPilot Lite package, people who are curious about CodeWarrior for PalmPilot can go through a tutorial, edit visual resources, edit code, build applications, and debug.
 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Lyn 1.7.2 - Lightweight image browser an...
Lyn is a fast, lightweight image browser and viewer designed for photographers, graphic artists, and Web designers. Featuring an extremely versatile and aesthetically pleasing interface, it delivers... Read more
Lyn 1.7.2 - Lightweight image browser an...
Lyn is a fast, lightweight image browser and viewer designed for photographers, graphic artists, and Web designers. Featuring an extremely versatile and aesthetically pleasing interface, it delivers... Read more
Tunnelblick 3.6.7beta02 - GUI for OpenVP...
Tunnelblick is a free, open source graphic user interface for OpenVPN on OS X. It provides easy control of OpenVPN client and/or server connections. It comes as a ready-to-use application with all... Read more
jAlbum Pro 13.4 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. You can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly... Read more
calibre 2.65.1 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
jAlbum 13.4 - Create custom photo galler...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results - Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Backblaze 4.2.0.966 - Online backup serv...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
Backblaze 4.2.0.966 - Online backup serv...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
Tunnelblick 3.6.7beta02 - GUI for OpenVP...
Tunnelblick is a free, open source graphic user interface for OpenVPN on OS X. It provides easy control of OpenVPN client and/or server connections. It comes as a ready-to-use application with all... Read more
calibre 2.65.1 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more

Siralim 2 (RPG / Roguelike) (Games)
Siralim 2 (RPG / Roguelike) 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Siralim 2 is an old-school monster catching RPG. Summon and customize hundreds of creatures to fight for you as... | Read more »
Clean Text (Productivity)
Clean Text 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Gemini - A Journey of Two Stars (Games)
Gemini - A Journey of Two Stars 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: *** SPECIAL LAUNCH SALE: $2.99 (25% off) *** "A mesmerizing and unexpectedly emotional journey." -- Los... | Read more »
How to get four NFL superstars for your...
Even though you're probably well on your way to building a top notch squad for the new season in Madden NFL Mobile, let's say you could beef it up by adding Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, Von Miller, and Todd Gurley to your roster. That's... | Read more »
Cartoon Network Superstar Soccer: Goal!!...
Cartoon Network Superstar Soccer: Goal!!! – Multiplayer Sports Game Starring Your Favorite Characters 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Become a soccer superstar with your... | Read more »
NFL Huddle: What's new in Topps NFL...
Can you smell that? It's the scent of pigskin in the air, which either means that cliches be damned, pigs are flying in your neck of the woods, or the new NFL season is right around the corner. [Read more] | Read more »
FarmVille: Tropic Escape tips, tricks, a...
Maybe farming is passé in mobile games now. Ah, but farming -- and doing a lot of a other things too -- in an island paradise might be a little different. At least you can work on your tan and sip some pina coladas while tending to your crops. [... | Read more »
Become the King of Avalon in FunPlus’ la...
King Arthur is dead. Considering the legend dates back to the 5th century, it would be surprising if he wasn’t. But in the context of real-time MMO game King of Avalon: Dragon Warfare, Arthur’s death plunges the kingdom into chaos. Evil sorceress... | Read more »
Nightgate (Games)
Nightgate 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: *** Launch Sale: 25% OFF for a limited time! *** In the year 2398, after a great war, a network of intelligent computers known as... | Read more »
3 best fantasy football apps to get you...
Last season didn't go the way you wanted it to in fantasy football. You were super happy following your drafts or auctions, convinced you had outsmarted everyone. You were all set to hustle on the waiver wire, work out some sweet trades, and make... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

MacBook Airs on sale for up to $101 off MSRP
Amazon has 11″ and 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $101 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (model MJVM2LL/A): $798 $101 off MSRP - 11″ 1.6GHz/256GB... Read more
Apple certified refurbished iPad mini 4s avai...
Apple has certified refurbished iPad mini 4s now available for up to $120 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each iPad, and shipping is free. The following models... Read more
Apple price trackers, updated continuously
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: - 15″... Read more
Global Tablet Shipments Projected to Increase...
Digitimes’ Jim Hsiao reports that global tablet shipments will increase by 16.3 percent sequentially to reach nearly 47 million units in 2016′s third quarter, but that volume will still be down over... Read more
Apple’s 2016 Back to School promotion: Free B...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Air 2s available start...
Apple has Certified Refurbished iPad Air 2 available starting at $339. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 128GB Wi-Fi iPad Air 2: $499 - 64GB Wi-Fi iPad... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $961...
Overstock has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $961.63 including free shipping. Their price is $138 off MSRP. Read more
Clearance 12-inch Retina MacBooks, Apple refu...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 12″ Retina MacBooks available starting at $929. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free. The following... Read more
BookBook Releases SurfacePad, BookBook &...
BookBook has released three new covers just for iPad Pro: SurfacePad, BookBook and BookBook Rutledge Edition. BookBook for iPad Pro is a gorgeous leather case reminiscent of a vintage sketchbook.... Read more
Clean Text 1.0 for iOS Reduces Text Cleanup a...
Apimac today announced availability of Clean Text for iOS, a tool for webmasters, graphic designers, developers and magazine editors to reduce text cleanup and editing time, and also for any iPhone... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions Victor,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* /Mac Support Engineer - GFI Digital,...
FI Digital, Inc. is currently seeking candidates for a full time Apple Support Engineer to add to our Maryland Heights, Missouri IT team. Candidates must be dynamic Read more
SW Engineer *Apple* TV - Apple Inc. (United...
The Apple TV team is looking for excellent software engineers with experience in hardware, media management, media playback, content delivery and a passion for Read more
Senior *Apple* Administrator - Pratt Instit...
POSITION SUMMARY: Directs the coordination and standardization of campus-wide Apple systems, including planning, analysis and implementation of Apple -related Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 51218534 Pleasant Hill, California, United States Posted: Aug. 18, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** As an Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.