TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Feb 02 Reviews

Volume Number: 18 (2002)
Issue Number: 02
Column Tag: Book Review

Palm OS Web Application Developer's Guide

by Andrew Downs

Introduction

I recently purchased the book Palm OS Web Application Developer's Guide by Ben Combes et al (Syngress Publishing, Inc.) My original intent was to use parts of the book to validate my work on a Web Clipping Application (WCA) prototype. However, after completing my spot-checks, I realized that this is exactly the type of book that would have saved me a lot of time during the application design and implementation phases. If you are working in the web clipping arena, you probably need this book.

If you are familiar with Palm Inc.'s developer documentation, you know there are some useful PDF docs and sample code available, but the cutting-edge Palm OS technologies are not easy to figure out in a short timeframe. Part of the problem involves having to search and traverse the web site looking for information. Having the most important information available in one book is very convenient.

What's in the book?

The topics include several that you would expect: an overview of web clipping, constructing WCAs with text and images using the Palm tools, using forms in your application, session tracking, and customization (based on the user's current location, definitely cool). There are even a few relevant history lessons.

Each chapter includes a Frequently Asked Questions section at the end, as well as a checklist of the major points discussed (with brief descriptions). The latter, titled Solutions Fast Track adds a nice touch. My only complaint about this area is that the book's sole appendix is simply a consolidated reprint of all those checklists.

Most chapters include sidebars aimed at improving your deployment success rate, helping you locate bugs more quickly, and so on. I found the various tips relevant and informative. Plus, they break up the reading just enough to get your attention.

There are more HTML examples than C examples; so source code junkies in the audience might be inclined to regard this as yet another non-programming book. Don't make that mistake. The C examples are few but get the point across clearly. Plus, writing HTML pages that render well on a Palm device is not an easy task, especially if you are attempting to distill the typical desktop browser-oriented web page. Hence, the need to discuss HTML.

If the ever-growing number of device and network configurations makes your head spin, then you will appreciate the book's coverage of various device models (Palm V vs. Palm VII vs. Handspring Visor), both wireline and wireless modems, and the wireless network (including proxy server) used by the Palm VII and Palm.Net service.

I was pleasantly surprised at the consistency of the presentation, considering that there are four authors listed on the cover. Either one person did the lion's share of the writing, or the editor(s) took the time to make sure the individual styles meshed well.

There were a few grammatical oddities that I didn't catch on my initial read, such as missing words ("as", "the"), but they were infrequent enough so as to not mar the reading experience.

What's different about this book?

For starters, there is an entire chapter on debugging WCAs. How often do you find that in a programming book? Not often enough.

The book includes a chapter on integrating WCAs with other applications on Palm devices, including launching other applications. There is also an entire chapter devoted to INetLib (the Internet Library). This last item is particularly useful because the amount of sample code freely available to INetLib developers was minimal (and may still be by the time you read this).

Since this book concentrates on Web Clipping Applications (and not standard Palm applications), it wisely eliminates the typical chapter or two devoted to rehashing the standard Palm application skeleton. However, the book does include a discussion of modifying the application event loop for the purpose of watching for incoming data on a socket.

What would be nice to have?

Here are a few topics that are not covered, but would make useful additions for a second edition:

NetLib examples. This topic is already covered in one other Palm OS book that I am aware of, but it would be useful to show the differences when using INetLib versus NetLib. Why consider NetLib? Because it shipped for several years before INetLib, allowing your application to run on older devices and OS versions.

Short Messaging Service (SMS). This is a telephony technology that was added to Palm OS 4.0. While not an absolute necessity for web apps, it adds the ability to actively send a small amount of data to or from a device. It would make a nice notification feature when integrated with a WCA.

Conclusion

If you are involved in developing web-based Palm OS applications at this time, or are considering such a project, you need to read this book. I estimate it would have saved me forty hours of effort (searching the Palm developer web site, posting questions to the mailing list, experimenting with APIs, etc.) over six months. Given its price of $49.95, this book should pay for itself almost immediately. Even if you are simply curious about the technology, having such a great amount of detail available in one resource is extremely convenient.


Andrew Downs teaches programming courses at Tulane University College. You can reach him at andrew@downs.ws.

 
AAPL
$117.60
Apple Inc.
-1.03
MSFT
$47.47
Microsoft Corpora
-0.12
GOOG
$541.08
Google Inc.
+1.81

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

MacUpdate Desktop 6.0.3 - Discover and i...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on macupdate.... Read more
SteerMouse 4.2.2 - Powerful third-party...
SteerMouse is an advanced driver for USB and Bluetooth mice. It also supports Apple Mighty Mouse very well. SteerMouse can assign various functions to buttons that Apple's software does not allow,... Read more
iMazing 1.1 - Complete iOS device manage...
iMazing (was DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and from... Read more
PopChar X 7.0 - Floating window shows av...
PopChar X helps you get the most out of your font collection. With its crystal-clear interface, PopChar X provides a frustration-free way to access any font's special characters. Expanded... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 4.0.3 - Easy-to-use b...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
ForeverSave 2.1.3 - Universal auto-save...
ForeverSave auto-saves all documents you're working on while simultaneously doing backup versioning in the background. Lost data can be quickly restored at any time. Losing data, caused by... Read more
Voila 3.8.1 - Capture, annotate, organiz...
Voila is a screen-capture, recording, and annotation tool that is a full-featured replacement for Mac's screen-capture and screen-recording capabilities. It has a large and robust set of editing,... Read more
SyncTwoFolders 2.0.6 - Syncs two user-sp...
SyncTwoFolders simply synchronizes two folders. It supports synchronization across mounted network drives and it is a possibility to run a simulation showing in a log what will be done. Please visit... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.1.1 - Find and d...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator detects... Read more
HandBrake 0.10.0 - Versatile video encod...
HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs. Supported Sources: VIDEO_TS folder, DVD image or real DVD (unencrypted -- CSS is... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Tilt to Live Bundle Set to Arrive This T...
Tilt to Live Bundle Set to Arrive This Thanksgiving Posted by Ellis Spice on November 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] One Man Left has unveiled an upcoming Tilt to Live bundle, allowing players to get the series for a di | Read more »
BattleLore: Command (Entertainment)
BattleLore: Command 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ***NOTE: Compatible with iPad 2/iPad mini, iPod touch 5 and up and iPhone 4S and up – WILL NOT RUN ON EARLIER... | Read more »
Weather Or Not Review
Weather Or Not Review By Jennifer Allen on November 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: STYLISH WEATHER REPORTINGiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Check the weather quickly and conveniently with Weather or Not... | Read more »
The All-New Football Manager Handheld 20...
The All-New Football Manager Handheld 2015 is Available Now Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Six iOS Games to Get You Ready for Thank...
Image Source: Friends Wiki At this point in the month, you or at least a few people you know are probably getting ready to scramble around (or are already scrambling around) for Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s a hectic day of precise oven utilization, but... | Read more »
Call of Duty: Heroes: Tips, Tricks, and...
Hello Heroes: What’d we think of Call of Duty‘s take on Clash of Clans? Check out our Call of Duty: Heroes review to find out! Just downloaded Call of Duty: Heroes and need some handy tips and tricks on how to get ahead of the rest? As we often do,... | Read more »
Call of Duty: Heroes Review
Call of Duty: Heroes Review By Jennifer Allen on November 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CLASH OF FRANCHISESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Mix Clash of Clans with Call of Duty, and this is what you get.   | Read more »
Slider Review
Slider Review By Jordan Minor on November 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SLIDE TO PLAYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Slider has all the excitement of unlocking your phone screen.   | Read more »
oh my giraffe (Games)
oh my giraffe 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Eat fruits while being chased by lions. Cut the vines to send fruit plummeting onto the lions. Don't worry, your flexible... | Read more »
One of 2000’s Most Loves Adventure Games...
One of 2000’s Most Loves Adventure Games, The Longest Journey, has Come to iOS Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Early Black Friday MacBook Pro sale: 15-inch...
 Best Buy has posted early Black Friday prices on 15″ Retina MacBook Pros, with models on sale for $300 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free local store pickup (if available... Read more
A9 Chips Already?
It’s barely more than a couple of months since Apple got the first A8 systems-on-chip into consumer hands, but rumor and news focus is already turning to the next-generation A9 SoC. Apple Daily... Read more
NewerTech Announces NuGuard KXs Impact X-Orbi...
NewerTech has announced updates to its family of Impact X-Orbing Screen Armor bringing military grade, triple layer protection to Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Like all models in the NuGuard KXs... Read more
13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Air on sale for $889,...
 B&H Photo has the 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $889 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $110 off MSRP. B&H will also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
Save up to $300 on Macs and iPads with your A...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
Apple refurbished Mac Pros available for up t...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more
Jumptuit Launches One-Tap Windows 8.1 iTunes...
Jumptuit has launched Windows 8.1 support for One-Tap iTunes Sync. with which Windows 8.1 users can now easily sync their iTunes libraries with Microsoft OneDrive. Jumptuit provides easy access from... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 13-inch 2014 Retin...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ 2.6GHz Retina MacBook Pros for up to $230 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
CEA Study Finds More People Recycling Electro...
A new study by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) finds that electronics recycling receives the continued and growing support of consumers. According to the CEA,s Recycling and Reuse Study,... Read more
15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $17...
 B&H Photo has the 2014 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale today for $1749. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. B&H will also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... 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* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC)- Retail S...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.