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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Tunnelblick 3.7.0 - GUI for OpenVPN.
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
Adobe Dreamweaver CC 2017 17.0.2.9391 -...
Dreamweaver CC 2017 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Dreamweaver customer). Adobe Dreamweaver CC 2017 allows you to... Read more
Adobe Animate CC 2017 16.2.0 - Advanced...
Animate CC 2017 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Flash Professional customer). Animate CC 2017 (was Flash CC) lets you... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 10.15 - File, pho...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
Creative Kit 1.1 - $149.99
Creative Kit 2016--made exclusively for Mac users--is your ticket to the most amazing images you've ever created. With a variety of powerful tools at your fingertips, you'll not only repair and fine-... Read more
iMazing 2.2.3 - Complete iOS device mana...
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
Fantastical 2.3.6 - Create calendar even...
Fantastical 2 is the Mac calendar you'll actually enjoy using. Creating an event with Fantastical is quick, easy, and fun: Open Fantastical with a single click or keystroke Type in your event... Read more
Apple Configurator 2.4 - Configure and d...
Apple Configurator makes it easy to deploy iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Apple TV devices in your school or business. Use Apple Configurator to quickly configure large numbers of devices connected to... Read more
WhatRoute 2.0.18 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more
Fantastical 2.3.6 - Create calendar even...
Fantastical 2 is the Mac calendar you'll actually enjoy using. Creating an event with Fantastical is quick, easy, and fun: Open Fantastical with a single click or keystroke Type in your event... Read more

Power Rangers: Legacy Wars beginner...
Rita Repulsa is back, but this time she's invading your mobile phone in Power Rangers: Legacy Wars. What looks to be a straightforward beat 'em up is actually a tough-as-nails multiplayer strategy game that requires some deft tactical maneuvering.... | Read more »
Hearthstone celebrates the upcoming Jour...
Hearthstone gets a new expansion, Journey to Un'Goro, in a little over a week, and they'll be welcoming the Year of the Mammoth, the next season, at the same time. There's a lot to be excited about, so Blizzard is celebrating in kind. Players will... | Read more »
4 smart and stylish puzzle games like Ty...
TypeShift launched a little over a week ago, offering some puzzling new challenges for word nerds equipped with an iOS device. Created by Zach Gage, the mind behind Spelltower, TypeShift boasts, like its predecessor, a sleak design and some very... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
Deals, deals, deals. We're all about a good bargain here on 148Apps, and luckily this was another fine week in App Store discounts. There's a big board game sale happening right now, and a few fine indies are still discounted through the weekend.... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week
It's been quite the week, but now that all of that business is out of the way, it's time to hunker down with some of the excellent games that were released over the past few days. There's a fair few to help you relax in your down time or if you're... | Read more »
Orphan Black: The Game (Games)
Orphan Black: The Game 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Dive into a dark and twisted puzzle-adventure that retells the pivotal events of Orphan Black. | Read more »
The Elder Scrolls: Legends is now availa...
| Read more »
Ticket to Earth beginner's guide: H...
Robot Circus launched Ticket to Earth as part of the App Store's indie games event last week. If you're not quite digging the space operatics Mass Effect: Andromeda is serving up, you'll be pleased to know that there's a surprising alternative on... | Read more »
Leap to victory in Nexx Studios new plat...
You’re always a hop, skip, and a jump away from a fiery death in Temple Jump, a new platformer-cum-endless runner from Nexx Studio. It’s out now on both iOS and Android if you’re an adventurer seeking treasure in a crumbling, pixel-laden temple. | Read more »
Failbetter Games details changes coming...
Sunless Sea, Failbetter Games' dark and gloomy sea explorer, sets sail for the iPad tomorrow. Ahead of the game's launch, Failbetter took to Twitter to discuss what will be different in the mobile version of the game. Many of the changes make... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Is A New 10.5-inch iPad Still Coming In April...
There was no sign or mention of a long-rumored and much anticipated 10.5-inch iPad Pro in Apple’s product announcements last week. The exciting iPad news was release of an upgraded iPad Air with a... Read more
T-Mobile’s Premium Device Protection Now Incl...
Good news for T-Mobile customers who love their iPhones and iPads. The “Un-carrier” has become the first national wireless company to give customers AppleCare Services at zero additional cost as part... Read more
FileWave Ensures Support for Latest Apple OS...
FileWave multi-platform device management providers announced support for Apple’s release yesterday of iOS 10.3, macOS Sierra 10.12.4, and tvOS 11.2. FileWave has a history of providing zero-day... Read more
Use Apple’s Education discount to save up to...
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: -... Read more
Apple refurbished Apple Watches available sta...
Apple is now offering Certified Refurbished Series 1 and Series 2 Apple Watches for 14-16% off MSRP, starting at $229. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each watch. Shipping is free: Series... Read more
9-inch 32GB Space Gray iPad Pro on sale for $...
B&H Photo has the 9.7″ 32GB Space Gray Apple iPad Pro on sale for $549 for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100-$150 of...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MMGF2LL/A): $899 $100 off MSRP - 13″ 1.... Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs, Apple refurbished, in s...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook Air: $... Read more
12-inch Retina MacBooks on sale for $1199, sa...
B&H has 12″ 1.1GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 12″ 1.1GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1199 $100 off MSRP - 12″ 1.1GHz... Read more
Save up to $260 with Apple refurbished 12-inc...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$260 off MSRP. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free. The following... Read more

Jobs Board

Fulltime aan de slag als shopmanager in een h...
Ben jij helemaal gek van Apple -producten en vind je het helemaal super om fulltime shopmanager te zijn in een jonge en hippe elektronicazaak? Wil jij werken in Read more
Desktop Analyst - *Apple* Products - Montef...
…technology to improve patient care. JOB RESPONSIBILITIES: Provide day-to-day support for Apple Hardware and Software in the environment based on the team's support Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**493168BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Location Number:** 000827-Denton-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Mobile Master do?** At Read more
Fulltime aan de slag als shopmanager in een h...
Ben jij helemaal gek van Apple -producten en vind je het helemaal super om fulltime shopmanager te zijn in een jonge en hippe elektronicazaak? Wil jij werken in Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**492889BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Location Number:** 000886-Norwalk-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Mobile Master do?** Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.