Mobile applications present numerous benefits to end users, namely the ability to access information from just about anywhere. For .NET developers, though, mobile applications present a plethora of challenges -- from small screen "real estate" to the use of non-HTML standards to the sheer number of devices that end users can, and do, whip from their pockets.
As is evident by the proliferation of mobile devices and their increasing use for more than just phone calls, particularly in the developing world, mobile application development challenges are here to stay.
For .NET developers, a couple courses of action can be taken. The .NET Compact Framework, a subset of the .NET Framework, works well for developing applications for PocketPC and Smart Phone implementations. ASP.NET, too, can be used, and is a good option for applications that will be deployed on numerous devices.
Thom Robbins, director of .NET platform marketing at Microsoft, penned two quite comprehensive tutorials for .NET mobile application developers.
The first tutorial, Mobile Web Development with ASP.NET 2.0, demonstrates how to use Visual Studio 2005 and ASP.NET 2.0 to build applications that are able to, as Robbins put it, "adaptively render for a wide range of protocols, device specific behaviors and browser types."
This document can be divided into four sections of unequal length:
· An overview of the ASP.NET Mobile Namespaces and how they perform application rendering techniques such as identifying the browser that a mobile device is running.
· A quick look at how the lifecycle of a mobile application differs from that of a typical ASP.NET application; most of the differences are attributable to device adaptor-specific operations.
· A walkthrough of how mobile Web applications are built using Visual Studio 2005.
· Finally, a look at the vast number of Mobile Web Form Controls with which developers should be acquainted. Some of these, like validation controls, are identical to those used for ASP.NET Web applications. Others, like the Calendar and TextBox, bring a bit less to the table than the full-scale ASP.NET Controls. Others still, like the SelectionList, combine several ASP.NET Web server controls into a single bundle.
The second tutorial, Developing Mobile Applications with the Compact Framework 2.0, focuses on the use of Visual Studio 2005 and the Compact Framework.
This document dives into the following topics:
· The various files associated with the Compact Framework 2.0.
· The use of the smart device application template within Visual Studio 2005 for application development.
· The design issues, which range from CPU cycles to latency to unpredictable network connectivity, which mobile application developers may be encountering for the first time.
· The Namespaces within the Compact Framework and how they are best used.
· The process of binding an application to SQL Server 2005 Mobile Edition -- which is the database of choice for Compact Framework applications -- and the data types supported by SQL Server 2005 Mobile.
· The use of emulators to test applications without actually possessing the device(s) on which the application will be running.
More on mobile application development:
Reference: Mobile and Wireless
Development Learning Guide
Reference: Mobile development resource guide [SearchSOA.com]
Study guide: Windows Mobile evolution [SearchMobileComputing.com]
Tip: .NET Compact Framework: Less is more, especially on mobile devices
News: Create iPhone apps with .NET
News: .NET Micro Framework: Ubiquitous computing for smart devices
This was first published in August 2007