|By Jon Box||
|April 28, 2003 12:00 AM EDT||
As many developers are already aware, the impending release of Visual Studio .NET 2003 will serve to bring the benefits of XML Web Services and the Microsoft Windows .NET Framework to smart devices via the inclusion of the .NET Compact Framework and Smart Device Projects. However, for those not already initiated, the following excerpts from Building Solutions with the .NET Compact Framework will explore the five basic questions that every developer asks when first thinking about the Compact Framework.
What Are the Goals of the Compact Framework?
Simply put, the goals of the Compact Framework (and Smart Device Projects) are fourfold:
On Which Platforms Does It Run?
Since 1992 Microsoft has produced a series of platforms (9 if our count is correct) built on the Windows CE operating system. A platform includes a specific set of hardware coupled with a version of Windows CE and associated software that makes it easier for developers and device manufacturers to target their solutions. The Compact Framework supports the Pocket PC 2000, 2002, and embedded Windows CE .NET 4.1 platforms. Although not officially supported, Compact Framework code also runs on Pocket PC Phone Edition devices that are a superset of Pocket PC 2002. Also not supported are smartphones such as the SPV from Orange.
Because the Compact Framework is a managed environment, each device that executes applications written using the Compact Framework must have the framework installed. As of this writing, there were no devices shipping that included the Compact Framework as a standard component in RAM or in ROM. However, look for future devices running Windows CE .NET to include the runtime.
What About ASP.NET Mobile Controls (aka the Mobile Internet Toolkit)?
Many developers new to developing for mobility are at first confused by the differences between the Compact Framework and ASP.NET Mobile Controls. In a nutshell here are the primary differences.
As a result you can (and in our estimation should) consider architecting and building your applications using the Compact Framework and SDP when the following are true.
What's Missing in the Compact Framework?
In order to accommodate the restricted resources on smart devices the Compact Framework was designed as a subset of the desktop libraries and in fact includes just over 1,700 types, or roughly 25% of the desktop framework. As a result, developers familiar with the desktop Framework should not expect all the functionality they are accustomed to. The most important omissions are listed here:
However, the Compact Framework does support two additional namespaces to support features particular to smart devices (see Table 1).
In addition, support for the IrDA protocol has been included in the Compact Framework and exposed in the six classes found in the System.Net.Sockets and the System.Net namespaces.
What Do Developers Need to Learn to Use the Compact Framework Effectively?
Although VB 6.0 and embedded VB (eVB) developers will feel fairly comfortable with the VB syntax used in SDP, the object-oriented nature of the Compact Framework means that developers need to have a firm grounding in OO concepts in order to maximize their productivity.
For example, the class libraries in the Compact Framework make extensive use of both implementation and interface inheritance. Developers familiar with these concepts can not only more easily understand the framework, but can write polymorphic code using the framework that is more maintainable and flexible than the component based development typically done in eVB. In the long run, using OO in their own designs allows developers to write less code and make the code that they do write more reusable. Therefore, to take maximum advantage of OO, however, a development organization should also get up to speed on the use of design patterns.
Of course, because of its close association with the .NET Framework, existing Framework developers will also have a leg up.
Building Solutions with the .NET Compact Framework
Jon Box and Dan Fox
Availability: June 2003
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