Developer .NET UPDATE--The Compact Framework's Future--May 21, 2004

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In This Issue

1. Developer .NET Perspectives

  • The Future of the Compact Framework
  • 2. Resource

  • Featured Thread: Problem with Visual Basic .NET Connection
  • 3. New and Improved

  • Developer Tools for GPS and Mapping

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    Developer .NET Perspectives

    by Marquis Howard, [email protected]

  • The Future of the Compact Framework
  • I've seen and developed some cool, useful applications that showcase the power of the Windows .NET Compact Framework. The Compact Framework provides a set of tools for creating rich mobile applications. However, one question people often ask when considering whether they should use the Compact Framework is: What are the future plans for this technology? With Microsoft TechEd 2004 taking place next week, let's take a look at the Compact Framework's current capabilities and what Microsoft has in store for the Compact Framework in the not-too-distant future.

    You develop Compact Framework applications in Visual Studio .NET. With Visual Studio .NET, Microsoft did a great job of unifying a single development environment, no matter whether you're creating a Web, desktop, or mobile-device application. Switching between the different environments is a thing of the past. Visual Studio .NET provides a common look and feel for all types of development tasks, which simplifies the developer's job.

    Visual Studio .NET's Toolbox for each type of application looks pretty much the same. Your target platform determines the actual tools, or "controls," in the Toolbox. Because the Compact Framework is a scaled down version of the full Windows .NET Framework, Visual Studio .NET supports fewer controls in the Compact Framework than the full Framework. For example, Visual Studio .NET supports the DateTimePicker control (which lets users choose a date from a pop-up calendar) and the Calendar control (which provides users with a calendar in which they can select dates) in the full Framework but not the Compact Framework. Although you can create custom controls in the Compact Framework to perform the same functions as the DateTimePicker and Calendar controls in the full Framework, the task isn't easy. (For information about how to create a custom DateTimePicker control, go to For information about how to create custom controls in general, go to Having native support for the DateTimePicker and Calendar controls in the Compact Framework would make developing a mobile-device application that relies on date-driven interaction much easier.

    Some controls in the Compact Framework don't have the same properties available as their Framework counterparts. Take, for example, the Label control. In a full Framework application, developers often use the BackColor property with the Label control. The BackColor property lets you customize a label's background color. This property, however, isn't available in the Compact Framework. Again, although you could create a custom control with this property exposed, a lot of extra work is involved.

    Fortunately, in Visual Studio 2005 (formerly code-named Whidbey), Microsoft is supercharging the Toolbox for the Compact Framework. Microsoft is not only overhauling some existing controls but also adding some new controls. For example, Microsoft is overhauling the Label control so that it will support the BackColor property and is adding the DateTimePicker and Calendar controls.

    DateTimePicker will be a drag-and-drop control. One useful feature will be the Format property. With this property, you can specify how you want the date displayed. You can select from one of the predefined formats or create your own format.

    The Calendar control will have the typical properties that you'd expect from this control. Unlike the DateTimePicker control, you can select more than one date with this control.

    Other neat controls that will be in your Visual Studio 2005 Toolbox for the Compact Framework include:

    • the WebBrowser control. The WebBrowser control lets you display Web pages in your client applications. Alternatively, you can use the control as a simple HTML document viewer or to add Dynamic HTML (DHTML)-based UI elements to your form. Either approach lets you seamlessly combine Web-based elements into your form-based application.
    • the LinkLabel control. The LinkLabel control lets you set a link to a file, folder, or Web page.
    • the Pocket PC Notification control. The Pocket PC Notification control lets you set up different types of notifications on a device, such as reminder or information messages. One way to use this control is to have it pop up a balloon message after a Web service call has returned. If the return information meets certain criteria, a notification message is sent.
    • the RichInk control I believe that RichInk control will be one of my favorites. Using this control, your application will be able to capture and save signatures as bitmap files.

    These controls are only some of the new and exciting enhancements to look forward to in Visual Studio 2005. Although Visual Studio 2005 is about a year away from release, these enhancements demonstrate that the Compact Framework has a bright future. The Compact Framework provides a robust, constantly growing set of tools that you can use to create rich, intuitive applications for mobile devices.

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  • Featured Thread: A Problem with Visual Basic .NET Connection
  • Expert forum member pklages needs to set a database to the single user setting so that a process can run with another application, then set the database back to the multiuser setting. He's written a Visual Basic .NET program that will change the settings with a button click. The Visual Basic .NET program opens a connection to the database, uses a stored procedure to set the single user setting, closes the connection, then exits. When pklages opens SQL Server Enterprise Manager and tries to open a connection to the database to view the data, he isn't allowed access. He thought that closing the database connection and Visual Basic .NET program would release the one connection and allow Enterprise Manager to make the other connection, but it's not. If you have any ideas about why the Visual Basic .NET program might be retaining the connection, go to the following URL:

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    New and Improved

  • Developer Tools for GPS and Mapping
  • released GpsTools 2.0, developer tools that provide an easy, cost-efficient way to include Global Positioning System (GPS) and mapping support to applications developed in Visual Studio. The samples and documentation make it easy for software developers new to geographic information systems (GIS) quickly access GPS position, speed, and satellite information, without any knowledge of low-level GPS protocols. GpsTools is available for Windows and Pocket PC as ActiveX, Windows .NET Framework, and Windows .NET Compact Framework components. Pricing starts at $49 for a single user license. Contact at (46) (70) 238-02-00 or [email protected]

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