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Sep 99 Factory Floor

Volume Number: 15 (1999)
Issue Number: 9
Column Tag: From the Factory Floor

A Palm Update, Part 1

By Eric Cloninger, Phillip Shoemaker, and Dave Mark, ©1999 by Metrowerks, Inc., all rights reserved.

A lot has changed since we last covered the world of Palm development. Things are really heating up these days with new Palm hardware, new Palm software, and a new release of CodeWarrior for Palm OS. This month's interview is with Metrowerks' own Eric Cloninger and with Phillip Shoemaker from Palm Computing.

Eric Cloninger is the technical lead, product manager, and utility infielder for CodeWarrior for Palm OS. When he's not pounding the keyboard, you can find him showing his son how to throw a slider or lamenting the Rockies' pitching staff. He can be reached at ericc@metrowerks.com.

Phillip Shoemaker is the Manager of Developer Tools at Palm Computing. When he's not harassing his engineers, he can be found riding his mountain board down rocky terrain. He can be reached at phil_shoemaker@palm.com.

Dave: In the early days, all Palm development was done on a Mac. What is the situation these days?

Eric: Palm developers can take advantage of the benefits that the Macintosh provides. If you recall from our previous discussions (From the Factory Floor, March 1998), Palm devices use the Motorola MC68328 and MC68EZ328 processors. These processors, nicknamed the DragonBall and DragonBall EZ, are 68000 core processors with built-in serial and LCD controllers. The device runs at 16Mhz and has between 512KB and 4MB of RAM. If you look carefully, you'll recognize that a Palm device has more computing power than the original Macs that we all bought in 1984!

Phillip: It has always made sense to develop for a 68k on a 68k and, as Eric just mentioned, the Dragonball processor is a 68K. It's easier for us to write our tools and OS where we can take advantage of the 68K emulation that the MacOS provides-so our development tools have always been first on the Macintosh and later on other platforms. A lot of our developers have strong Mac backgrounds, some came from Apple, some from Newton, some from Metrowerks, and the tools show their Mac heritage.

Dave: There's a Palm developer's conference coming up in October. What can you tell me about the conference?

Phillip: This is the third developer's conference for the Palm Computing Platform[TM], now named PalmSource 99[TM]. We have added more tracks to the conference, which now spans four days. It's packed with sessions targeted towards doing new business development, marketing your applications, etc.

The majority of the conference is targeted towards doing serious development on our platform. Some of the sessions we have planned describe how to write Conduits to transfer data between your Mac or PC and the Palm device. Other sessions will describe how to take advantage of the wireless capabilities of the Palm VII, as well as how to write localized applications for English, Japanese, and other languages.

There will be several labs for developing on the Palm OS and showing how to use our tools. The labs will be open late, until 2:00 am, I think, so Mac hackers should feel right at home.

Dave: Is Palm planning to release a new set of SDKs there as well?

Phillip: Yes we are. We expect to have a final version of all our SDKs a few weeks before the conference. Metrowerks will incorporate our SDKs into the CodeWarrior environment in time to bring to the conference.

Dave: What can you tell me about the SDK?

Phillip: The latest SDK for the Palm Computing Platform supports a variety of connected organizers, including the Palm III, Palm IIIx, Palm IIIe, Palm V, and the Palm VII. This also includes devices from Qualcomm, Franklin, IBM, and Symbol Technologies.

The SDK includes updates to our headers and libraries to support all devices, as well as updates to the Mac OS-hosted simulator and the Palm OS emulator (aka CoPilot). The SDK also includes sources to many sample applications, including the organizer applications that are in the devices' ROM. Additionally, the new SDK contains documentation on all the OS calls and a detailed tutorial.

Using the updated SDK, developers can write applications that run on the original Pilot 1000 devices, the Palm Pilot, the Palm III, Palm V, and Palm VII. Developers can write applications that utilize the wireless functionality in the Palm VII, as well as write applications for Japanese-enabled devices.

Dave: Eric, what can you tell me about the new version of CodeWarrior that will be released at the conference?

Eric: The latest CodeWarrior tools for the Palm Computing platform will be based on CodeWarrior Pro 5 that was released in June. This means that Palm developers have access to the new CodeWarrior browser, the new XML import/export facilities, as well as updated compilers and libraries. Palm has added features to Constructor and the PalmRez post linker that allows users to create applications for Japanese versions of the OS. Those users who already use CodeWarrior Professional will see slightly newer versions of the IDE, MSL, and the compilers.

Dave: OK, you've convinced me. Let's say I go to PalmSource 99, attend the sessions and get the tools. Where do I start? What do I do? What kind of resources are available to me?

Eric: Well, you can start right now, before you go to the conference. CodeWarrior for Palm OS Release 5 is available from Palm or Metrowerks. The samples and tutorial that Phil mentioned earlier are available for the 3.0 version of the OS (Release 6 will have versions 3.1 and 3.2). There's a lot to learn about the core OS that will take most developers a while to learn.

Phil: We can also walk through some detailed code on the OS in next month's MacTech. In the mean time, here are some web sites that interested developers can start looking at:

  • http://www.palm.com - Palms' main web site.
  • http://www.palm.com/devzone - Palms' developer zone
  • http://www.palmsource.com - Information on the Palm Computing Platform developers conference
  • http://ls.palm.com - List server run by Palms' developer group. Users can sign up to receive email forums on the OS, conduits, and emulator.
  • http://www.metrowerks.com/pda/palm/x - Metrowerks' main site for the Palm product. Metrowerks is planning to add a tools support site located off this site where users can download tools and documents that aren't on the CD, such as the HackMaster sample, Eric's PRC viewer, the CodeWarrior FAQ, etc. We don't have a definitive location for this yet.
  • http://news.massena.com - Darrin Massena's private news server is a high signal-to-noise ratio news server where many experienced developers hang out.
  • http://www.roadcoders.com - A good place to get tools, SDKs, samples, and utilities.
 
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