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

iExplorer 4.1.10 - View and transfer fil...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
Adobe InCopy CC 2018 13.0.1.207 - Create...
InCopy CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous InCopy customer). Adobe InCopy CC 2018, ideal for large team projects... Read more
Microsoft Office 2016 15.40 - Popular pr...
Microsoft Office 2016 - Unmistakably Office, designed for Mac. The new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote provide the best of both worlds for Mac users - the familiar Office... Read more
Adobe InDesign CC 2018 13.0.1.207 - Prof...
InDesign CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous InDesign customer). Adobe InDesign CC 2018 is part of Creative Cloud.... Read more
Apple iOS 11.1.2 - The latest version of...
iOS 11 sets a new standard for what is already the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. It makes iPhone better than before. It makes iPad more capable than ever. And now it opens up both to... Read more
Slack 2.9.0 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.9.0: Slack now officially, and fully, supports Japanese.... Read more
iExplorer 4.1.9 - View and transfer file...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
PCalc 4.5.3 - Full-featured scientific c...
PCalc is a full-featured, scriptable scientific calculator with support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations, as well as an RPN mode, programmable functions, and an extensive set of unit... Read more
iExplorer 4.1.9 - View and transfer file...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
PCalc 4.5.3 - Full-featured scientific c...
PCalc is a full-featured, scriptable scientific calculator with support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations, as well as an RPN mode, programmable functions, and an extensive set of unit... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rules of Survival guide - how to be the...
The PUBG craze makes its way to mobile, with more and more battle royale games debuting on iOS and Android. Rules of Survival joins the ranks of mobile PUBG-likes, offering a classic battle royale experiences that doesn't vary too much from its... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
The weekend is upon us friends, and it's time to take a look back and reflect on all of the wonderful games we've played over the past few days. This week was jam packed with new releases. There were some big, long awaited launches, some fun... | Read more »
Lineage II: Revolution guide - tips and...
At long last, Lineage II: Revolution has now come to western shores, bring Netmarble's sweeping MMORPG to mobile devices. It's an addictive, epic experience, but some of the systems in the game can be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help... | Read more »
A Boy and His Blob (Games)
A Boy and His Blob 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Fight terrible monsters and collect epic...
Released on Western markets early last month, Dragon Project, created by Japanese developer COLOPL, brings epic monster hunting action to mobile for the very first time. Collect a huge array of weapons and armor, and join up with friends to fight... | Read more »
I Am The Hero (Games)
I Am The Hero 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: I Am The Hero is a pixel art, beat 'em up, fighting game that tells the story of a "Hero" with a glorious but mysterious past.... | Read more »
Kauldron (Music)
Kauldron 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Kauldron is our warmest sounding, punchiest synth yet! A completely new modeling technology, combined with carefully designed... | Read more »
Lineage II: Revolution is mobile’s bigge...
NCSoft’s hit fantasy MMORPG series has just made the leap to mobile with the help of Netmarble in Lineage II: Revolution. With over 1.5 million players having already pre-registered ahead of the game’s launch, Revolution hit the app stores... | Read more »
Swing skilfully in new physics-based pla...
Sometimes it’s the most difficult of obstacles that can be the most rewarding. One game hoping to prove this is OCMO, the new tough but fair platformer from developers Team Ocmo. Primed to set every speedrunner’s pulse racing, as an otherworldly... | Read more »
RPGolf (Games)
RPGolf 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Once upon a time, the kingdom was a land of peace, harmony, and an all-consuming passion for the greatest sport - GOLF. Everyone in the... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Early Black Friday sale: Apple iMacs for up t...
B&H Photo has 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up $130-$150 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2149 $150 off... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis starting...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished Mac minis starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: – 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP – 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Save on 12″ MacBooks, Apple refurbished model...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$240 off the cost of new models. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Early Holiday sale: 12″ iPad Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has 12″ iPad Pros on sale today for up to $130 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H collects no sales tax outside NY & NJ: – 12″ 64GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749, save $50 – 12″ 256GB... Read more
Holiday sale prices on Apple 13″ MacBook Pros...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $100-$150 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro... Read more
Sale: 13″ MacBook Airs starting at $899, $100...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Airs on sale today for $100 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MQD32LL/A): $899, $100 off... Read more
Week’s Best Deal on 13″ MacBook Pros: Apple r...
Apple has a full line of Apple Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ MacBook Pros available for $200-$300 off MSRP. A standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Deal: 15″ 2.6GHz MacBook Pro for $1799 w/free...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 15″ 2.6GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and available for $600 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 15″ 2.... Read more
Black Friday pricing on the 1.4GHz Mac mini....
MacMall has the 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $399 including free shipping. Their price is $100 off MSRP (20% off), and it’s the lowest price for available for this model from any reseller. MacMall’s... Read more
Early Black Friday deal: 15″ Apple MacBook Pr...
B&H Photo has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2199, $200... Read more

Jobs Board

Product Manager - *Apple* Pay on the *Appl...
Job Summary Apple is looking for a talented product manager to drive the expansion of Apple Pay on the Apple Online Store. This position includes a unique Read more
*Apple* Pro/Consumer Apps Support Engineer -...
…exemplify AppleCare's expert technical support paired with exceptional customer service for Apple 's software apps. This person is a problem solver, who understands Read more
Partner Marketing Manager, *Apple* Pay - Ap...
Job Summary The Apple Pay partner marketing team is looking for a Marketing Manager to develop and drive US programs. The right candidate will be passionate about Read more
*Apple* Solution Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solution Consultant - Rochester, MN Job Number: 113037950 Rochester, MN, Minnesota, United States Posted: 19-Sep-2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Are Read more
Sr. Experience Producer, Today at *Apple* -...
# Sr. Experience Producer, Today at Apple Job Number: 56495251 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 23-Jun-2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.