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.NET Compact Framework: Less is more, especially on mobile devices

If you're developing for mobile devices, you're using the .NET Compact Framework. This tip introduces the slimmed-down version of .NET and points to helpful resources for using it.

Those who develop for platforms such as cellphones, smart devices and Pocket PCs quickly learn to appreciate the principle of parsimony, which might best be decoded as "less is more." Those who work with Windows CE .NET must therefore work with the .NET Compact Framework 2.0, a special slimmed-down version of the full-blown .NET Framework 2.0 that includes only those elements necessary for operation under such cramped and mobile conditions.

The best place to start learning about the topic is at Microsoft's .NET Compact FrameworkQuickStart Tutorial on the gotdotnet.com Web server. There, you'll find links to grab and use related software tools along with this version of .NET, as well as several welcome tidbitsof information:

  • There's no need to interact with mobile devices as you start programming, because Microsoft Visual Studio .NET includes emulators designed to support smart device projects.
  • The QuickStarts are designed to guide developers into smart device projects and to describe techniques and workarounds when the full .NET Framework doesn't work for a device-based application.
  • You learn by example and illustration about classes specific to the .NET Compact Framework for SQL Server CE, how to control the soft input panel (SIP) on the Pocket PC and how to send and receive custom Windows messages.

More good news -- if you're running any version of Microsoft Visual Studio .NET since 2003, the Smart Device Programmability options for installing VB .NET and Visual C# .NET are selected by default. Thus, as soon as you create a smart device project in VS .NET, you automatically project references to the necessary .NET Compact Framework files and assemblies.

QuickStarts are organized by topic and include links to complete Visual Basic and Visual C# source at the end of each topic.

More on mobile application development with .NET
Tip: Beginning .NET mobile application development

Reference: Mobile and Wireless Development Learning Guide
The only real pre-requisites are sufficient familiarity with and understanding of the full-blown .NET Framework to put this material into context, plus some familiarity with WinForms controls, deriving and customizing controls, Web services, and data access methods within Visual Studio.

QuickStart topics include coverage of key downloads and links, communications and Web services, core tasks and data manipulation, plus WinForms and Graphics. You'll also learn how to interoperate with native device code and create custom controls. There's even a section specific to smartphone topics, such as use of specific keys and menus.

Thos interested in learning how to develop for mobile devices, or who want to understand existing Windows CE .NET applications, will find this an invaluable resource. Be sure to visit when you get the chance.

Ed Tittel is a writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security. E-mail etittel@techtarget.com with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review. Cool tools rule!

This was last published in October 2007

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