TweetFollow Us on Twitter

2nd Palm Conference

Volume Number: 15 (1999)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: Conference Report

Second Annual Palm Developer's Conference

by Marshall Clow

Welcome

On December 1st through 4th, the Palm division of 3Com corporation held the second annual Palm Developer's conference at that Santa Clara convention center. Over 1200 Palm developers attended the conference, which contained technical sessions for writing software for the Palm, as well as business sessions to help developers build a business selling software.

The conference was well-coordinated, with lots of little touches to aid the attendees. The conference schedule was downloadable into your Palm, and the name badges were large enough to hold a Palm device.

The Palm VII

The big news at the conference was the announcement of the Palm VII computer, which is a Palm III with an integrated wireless connection that can connect to the internet. Palm spokespeople were quick to explain that the device was not a general-purpose machine for connecting to the internet, citing the low bandwidth of the wireless connection and the small screen of the device. Palm also introduced what they called "Web Clipping" as a different way to access information on the internet. They described it as a focused query to find exactly the information that you want, rather than browsing for information that you might be interested in.

As an example, they used Yahoo's "People Search" to find the name and address of one of the speakers. This kind of "surgical browsing" is encouraged on the Palm VII by the introduction of a new kind of application, called a 'Palm Query Application. It is basically an HTML form that you fill in and send off to a remote web server, and the HTML response is displayed on your screen by a built-in HTML parser/display engine. This eliminates the first few steps of using common web sites i.e, connecting to the site and downloading the form. It also minimizes the amount of traffic sent over the wireless link. The speakers claimed that a typical transaction should require the transfer of only 200-300 bytes.

How does it work? Palm has partnered with BellSouth for wireless connectivity. BellSouth claims that their wireless network covers 90% of all the people in the country. They have base stations in more than 100 cities nationwide. When you send a query to look up someone's address on Yahoo, the HTML form is compressed and then sent over air to the local wireless base station. From there BellSouth sends it to Palm's network site, "Palm.net", where it is sent to Yahoo as an HTML POST command. Yahoo's server sends the data back to Palm.net, which compresses it and sends the data to BellSouth, who then transmits it back to you. In demonstrations at the show, this took between 3 and 15 seconds for the round trip.

Palm had many content providers at the Palm VII introduction announcing support for the Palm VII. A few of the companies were Yahoo, MapQuest, ESPN, E*Trade, Fodors, Bank of America, ABC News, Visa and MasterCard.

Developer Opportunities

The developer opportunities that I saw for the Palm VII fell into two widely divergent categories (of course, there may be others):

  1. If you have some real-time content that you want to serve to Palm owners, and it is accessible via HTML, you are almost home free. Creating a query application is a matter of taking your existing HTML form, making some minor changes to the HTML, and then running the HTML form through a tool that Palm provides. No coding required!
  2. The other big opportunity is in enterprise and vertical markets. There are lots of companies out there who need customized solutions for their business, and who have people who need to know the status of orders, inventories, and manufacturing on an up-to-the-minute basis. I spent a couple of hours talking to Thomas D'Alleva, who is in charge of BellSouth's developer programs, and he said that there are lots of opportunities in vertical markets, such as warehouse and inventory management.

Other Hardware

Symbol Technologies was at the conference, showing people the SPT 1500, which is essentially a Palm III with an integrated bar-code scanner. They also sponsored a programming contest, and the best programs written at the conference won a SPT 1500, as well as other prizes.

Qualcomm showed its upcoming PDQ, a cell phone with an integrated Palm III. I didn't get a chance to play with one, but I am very intrigued by this product. Since I carry both a Palm and a cell phone, I would love to be able to ditch one of the pieces of hardware.

The Palm Computing Platform

The Palm Computing speakers also talked a lot about the "Palm Computing Platform", which encompasses all Palm-compatible devices. This includes the Palm 1000, Palm 5000, the PalmPilot personal (these are no longer being made, as far as I know), the PalmPilot Professional, the Palm III, the IBM Workpad, the Symbol SPT 1500, and the (not yet shipping) Palm VII and Qualcomm PDQ. They made it clear that there would be additional products in the platform, from Palm as well as other hardware manufacturers.

There were lots of sessions on how to develop for the Palm, including a technical overview of the entire platform, sessions on UI design and how to write a basic application. Since one of the big attractions of the Palm machines is easy synchronization of the data on the hand held and the desktop computer, there were several sessions on how to write a "conduit", which is what Palm calls the software that performs the synchronization. A conduit is much more than just a file copying routine. As an example, the data in your address book, could have been changed on both the desktop and the hand held between HodSyncs, and the conduit has to determine, on a record by record basis, which of the records is the most recent.

The business track had sessions on how to attract venture capital, how to market your products overseas, and "Understanding the Palm Computing® Hand held Retail Customer", which presented a demographic appraisal of the people who buy hardware and software for the Palm platform.

Janice Roberts, acting president of Palm, gave a keynote that was entirely about the business case for developing for the Palm platform. She noted that Palm-compatible devices were 63% of the hand held market this year, and that Palm shipped their 2 millionth machine this last September. Less encouraging for other hardware vendors was a note that all the non-Palm devices together had sold about 10,000 units.

Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky, gave keynote talks about what they saw as the future of the Palm computing platform. Jeff and Donna, who helped create the original PalmPilot, recently left 3Com to form HandSpring, a company that will be making Palm-compatible devices. When asked about their product plans, they demurred, pointing out that their product was at least a year from shipping.

Palm and Apple

Apple had a session at the conference as well. Clent Richardson, VP of Worldwide Developer Relations, gave a rousing talk about how Apple wanted to work with Palm, and how Apple wanted to be the preferred platform for developing Palm software. Apple announced a special offer to Palm Developers, where they could get an iMac with 96 MB of memory, a USB to serial converter, and a one year ADC Select membership for $999. See <http://developer.apple.com/palm/> for details. At the time this article is going to print, the offer is only valid through January 31, 1999.

Other Fun Stuff

The "company store" at the conference had all sorts of Palm add on accessories, including leather cases, connections to cell phones, page modules, and lots of books. Neil Rhodes and Julie McKeehan's new book "Palm Pilot Programming" was a big hit, with the store selling out on the second day of the show. Look for a review of this book in an upcoming issue of MacTech.

On the last day of the conference, Symbol held a programming contest. The contest was to write the coolest program that used the special features of the Symbol 1500 (i.e, the bar code scanner). The winners were:

1st Place: Steve Patt, Stevens Creek Software
Application: Pizza Scan

Pizza Scan is a hand held ordering solution for a fictional pizza restaurant, named "Patt's PalmPilot Pizza Palace". All you have to do is point the Symbol SPT 1500 to the items you want to order. The application summarizes the order, totals the amount, and prints out a receipt to a printer.

2nd Place: Neil Rhodes, Calliope, Inc.
Application: Book Keeper

This application is used to keep an inventory of the books that you have at home or at the office. You scan the ISBN numbers off the books, and it puts the information into a database. A great enhancement to this would be to have the conduit look up the name and author from the Library of Congress when you HotSync.

3rd Place: John Major, Cimmeron
Application: Scan Dance

Scan Dance is a fun application that allows you to develop songs using the Symbol SPT 1500 Scan technology in conjunction with a sheet of barcodes with musical notes assigned to the barcodes. You scan the music (written in barcodes), and the Palm plays it. You can either scan a sequence of notes, or pick the notes yourself, one at a time.

Most Unusual (Coolest) Application: 1st Place Ben Gottlieb, Stand Alone, Inc.
Application: Maurice Code

The Maurice Code application lets you send and receive Morse Code using the laser in the bar code scanner.

Feelings

All in all, this was a very upbeat conference. It had a lot of the same enthusiasm that I used to feel at the Apple Developer's conference, back before Apple's troubles became acute. I am looking forward to see what the Palm developers come up with in the next year.

Bibliography and References


Marshall Clow is a programmer. He has worked for Palomar Software, Hewlett-Packard, and Aladdin Systems. Among other things, he has written PICT Detective, Aladdin's Resource Compression Toolkit, and way too many resource processing tools. He currently works for Adobe Systems, where his title is "Bad Influence". When he's not coding, he can be found mountain biking or checking out microbreweries. He can be reached at <mclow@mailhost2.csusm.edu>

 
AAPL
$102.50
Apple Inc.
+0.25
MSFT
$45.43
Microsoft Corpora
+0.55
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
+2.40

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

VueScan 9.4.41 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LaunchBar 6.1 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
BBEdit 10.5.12 - Powerful text and HTML...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014
Shiny Happy App Reviews   | Read more »
Qube Kingdom – Tips, Tricks, Strategies,...
Qube Kingdom is a tower defense game from DeNA. You rally your troops – magicians, archers, knights, barbarians, and others – and fight against an evil menace looking to dominate your kingdom of tiny squares. Planning a war isn’t easy, so here are a... | Read more »
Qube Kingdom Review
Qube Kingdom Review By Nadia Oxford on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: KIND OF A SQUARE KINGDOMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Qube Kingdom has cute visuals, but it’s a pretty basic tower defense game at heart.   | Read more »
Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwi...
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwide Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Add...
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Adds Lots of New Stuff Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Baseball Battle Review
Baseball Battle Review By Jennifer Allen on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE HITTINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Simple and cute, Baseball Battle is a fairly fun baseball game for those looking for something... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Labor Day Weekend MacBook Pro sale; 15-inch m...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
Labor Day Weekend iPad mini sale; $50 to $100...
Best Buy has the iPad mini with Retina Display (WiFi models) on sale for $50 off MSRP on their online store for Labor Day Weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for... Read more
13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Air on sale for $899,...
Adorama has the new 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
It’s Official: Apple Issues Invitations To Se...
Apple has issued one of its characteristically cryptic press invitations for a special event to be held at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in hometown Cupertino on Sept. 9, 2014 at 10:00 am... Read more
Tablet Shipments To See First On-year Decline...
TrendForce analyst Caroline Chen notes that when the iPad launched in 2010, it was an instant hit and spurred a tablet PC revolution, with tablets so popular that that notebook PC sales stagnated and... Read more
SOBERLINK Releases Apple iOS Compatible Handh...
Cypress, California based SOBERLINK, Inc., creator of the first handheld Breathalyzer designed to improve recovery outcomes, continues to show prominence in the mobile alcohol monitoring space with... Read more
New 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale again for $999, s...
Best Buy has the new 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999.99 on their online store. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for online orders only, in-... Read more
Smartphone Outlook Remains Strong for 2014, U...
According to a new mobile phone forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, more than 1.25 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide in 2014,... Read more
Save up to $60 with Apple refurbished iPod to...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 5th generation iPod touches available starting at $149. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Many, but not all... Read more
12-Inch MacBook Air Coming in 4Q14 or 2015 –...
Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that according to Taiwan-based upstream supply chain insiders, Apple plans to launch a thinner MacBook model either at year end 2014 or in 2015, and that... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.