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


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.


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


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Garmin Express - Manage your Gar...
Garmin Express is your essential tool for managing your Garmin devices. Update maps, golf courses and device software. You can even register your device. Update maps Update software Register your... Read more
Duet - Use your iPad as an exter...
Duet is the first app that allows you to use your iDevice as an extra display for your Mac using the Lightning or 30-pin cable. Note: This app requires a $14.99 iOS companion app. Version Read more
Apple iTunes 12.5.2 - Play Apple Music a...
Apple iTunes lets you organize and stream Apple Music, download and watch video and listen to Podcasts. It can automatically download new music, app, and book purchases across all your devices and... Read more
Pinegrow Web Designer 2.95 - Mockup and...
Pinegrow Web Designer is desktop app that lets you mockup and design webpages faster with multi-page editing, CSS and LESS styling, and smart components for Bootstrap, Foundation, Angular JS, and... Read more
jAlbum Pro 13.6 - 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
jAlbum 13.6 - 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
TextMate 2.0-beta.12.26 - Code/markup ed...
TextMate is a versatile plain text editor with a unique and innovative feature set which caused it to win an Apple Design Award for Best Mac OS X Developer Tool in August 2006. A rapidly growing... Read more
VMware Fusion 8.5.1 - Run Windows apps a...
VMware Fusion 8 and Fusion 8 Pro--the latest versions of its virtualization software for running Windows on a Mac without rebooting--include full support for Windows 10, OS X El Capitan, and the... Read more
Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.3 - Professiona...
Apple Final Cut Pro X is a professional video editing solution.Completely redesigned from the ground up, Final Cut Pro adds extraordinary speed, quality, and flexibility to every part of the post-... Read more
Civilization VI 1.0.0 - Next iteration o...
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is the next entry in the popular Civilization franchise. Originally created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, Civilization is a strategy game in which you attempt to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Plants vs. Zombies Heroes guide: How to...
Plants vs. Zombies Heroes might look cute and cuddly, but it's actually a very complex deck builder that requires a lot of time to master. While there's a bit of a learning curve, it's easy for people of any skill level to have fun with the game. | Read more »
Roofbot: Puzzler On The Roof (Games)
Roofbot: Puzzler On The Roof 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: Guide Roofie through gorgeous, meditative rooftops and try to get the right color energy balls into the... | Read more »
The 4 best food delivery apps
As the temperatures continue to drop, so does the motivation to venture outside. Sometimes you still want to eat a nice meal from that sushi place down the road though. Thankfully in these trying times, there are a number of fine food delivery... | Read more »
Toca Life: Farm (Education)
Toca Life: Farm 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Work and play the farmer's way! Milk your cow, gather eggs from your hens and raise your crops. Have a picnic, play the... | Read more »
The Lost Shield (Games)
The Lost Shield 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: The Lost shield is a brick break/adventure game. You play as a hero who must return a powerful but dangerous magic shield... | Read more »
The Forgotten Room (Games)
The Forgotten Room 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Play as paranormal investigator John “Buster of Ghosts” Murr as he explores yet another mysteriously creepy house. This... | Read more »
5 Halloween mobile games for wimps
If you're anything like me, horror games are a great way to have nightly nightmares for the next decade or three. They're off limits, but perhaps you want to get in on the Halloween celebrations in some way. Fortunately not all Halloween themed... | Read more »
The 5 scariest mobile games
It's the most wonderful time of the year for people who enjoy scaring themselves silly with haunted houses, movies, video games, and what have you. Mobile might not be the first platform you'd turn to for quality scares, but rest assured there are... | Read more »
Lifeline: Flatline (Games)
Lifeline: Flatline 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: The Lifeline series takes a terrifying turn in this interactive horror experience. Every decision you make could help... | Read more »
Game of Dice is now available on Faceboo...
After celebrating its anniversary in style with a brand new update, there’s even more excitement in store for Game of Dice has after just being launched on Facebook Gameroom. A relatively new platform, Facebook Gameroom has been designed for PC... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

WaterField Unveils Syde MacBook Pro Touch Bar...
The new WaterField Designs Syde Case for Apple’s new MacBook Pro Touch Bar combines the top-notch laptop protection of a sleeve with the functionality and handsome look of an over-the-shoulder or... Read more
Apple Unveils Redesigned MacBook Pro With Tou...
October 27, 2016 – Apple today introduced the thinnest and lightest MacBook Pro yet, along with a new interface innovation that replaces the traditional row of function keys with a Retina-quality... Read more
Apple Unveils New TV App for Apple TV, iPhone...
October 27, 2016 – Apple today introduced a new TV app, offering a unified experience for discovering and accessing TV shows and movies from multiple apps on Apple TV, iPhone and iPad. The TV app... Read more
Price drops on select refurbished 2015 13″ Re...
Apple dropped prices on select Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ Retina MacBook Pros by as much as $90. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.7GHz/256GB... Read more
Apple reveals new next-generation 15″ and 13″...
Apple today revealed their next-generation 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros. The new models are thinner and lighter than before with a new aluminum design featuring an enhanced keyboard with retina, multi-... Read more
Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Up 1.0% Year o...
According to preliminary results from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 362.9 million smartphones worldwide in the third... Read more
TuneBand Arm Band For iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Rel...
Grantwood Technology has added the TuneBand for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus to its smartphone armband series. The TuneBand provides a lightweight and comfortable way to wear the iPhone while running,... Read more
1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $449, save $50
Adorama has the 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $50 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini (Apple sku# MGEM2LL/A): $449 $50 off MSRP To purchase a mini at... Read more
21-inch 1.6GHz iMac on sale for $999, save $1...
B&H has the 21″ 1.6GHz Apple iMac on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Macs’ Superior Enterprise Deployment Cost Eco...
IBM’s debunking of conventional wisdom and popular mythology about the relative cost of using Apple Mac computers as opposed to PCs running Microsoft Windows at the sixth annual Jamf Nation User... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (...
# Lead Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 52812906 Houston, Texas, United States Posted: Oct. 18, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Lead ASC is an Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 52812872 Houston, Texas, United States Posted: Oct. 18, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Software Engineering Intern: UI Applications...
Job Summary Apple is currently seeking enthusiastic interns who can work full-time for a minimum of 12-weeks between Fall 2015 and Summer 2016. Our software Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.