Building Microsoft ASP.NET Applications for Mobile Devices, Second Edition
The world has gone mobile on the application developer. I ve owned several incompatible embedded operating systems in my own recent wireless gadget experience, some of which were even manufactured by the same company. Whether these Web viewers were WAP- or HTML-based, each had their own peculiarity when it came to rendering Web site presentation layer data. Some sites rendered exceptionally well on each, while others quickly crashed and burned if they appeared at all.
Developers responsible for delivering an adequate user experience on all these variable-end platforms can easily drown in this a sea of incompatibility. Recognizing this pain point, Microsoft provided a lifejacket for .NET Web developers in the form of its Mobile Internet Toolkit. This toolkit has since been embedded into the .NET developer environment with the release of Visual Studio .NET 2003, which already includes emulators for Pocket PC 2003 and Windows CE .NET-enabled devices. While this addition made life considerably easier for the besieged developer, its tutorial visibility took a back seat to a number of other high priority needs that VS .NET was being marketed to address. Thankfully, Microsoft Press has published an excellent, albeit expensive, educational asset for ASP.NET developers to accelerate their comprehension and use of Microsoft s Mobile Internet Toolkit. However, since all code samples are written in C#, VB .NET coders will have to be prepared to convert the syntax or learn C# in parallel to fully appreciate and comprehend each sample s execution purpose.
The book begins by answering why and how the Mobile Toolkit and related VS .NET 2003 mobile components solve the developer s multiple mobile device dilemma. Next up is installing and configuring the ideal mobile device development and testing environment, including the use of Openwave s free HDML/WML-compliant mobile browser emulator (Openwave s WAP browser is embedded in a large percentage of mobile phones presently being manufactured). A large percentage of the book discusses what portions of the .NET Framework can be used to build ASP.NET mobile device applications. This includes programming ASP.NET mobile Web forms, working with standard controls (form, panel, image, label, text box, listbox, etc.), validation controls, connecting lists, and tables to data sources and custom downloadable controls.
The authors also demonstrate how to program mobile control styles and style sheets, overriding properties, extending the templated controls (form, Panel, List and ObjectList), and they provide an invaluable chapter on state management. The balance of the book explores advanced topics such as mobile application performance enhancements, internationalization recognition, Web service integration, debugging and error handling, mobile app package creation and deployment, security, and adding support for new client devices via the machine.config file (think browser.ini for the mobile device arena). The book closes with chapters on creating custom controls and device adapters from scratch, illustrating how easy it is to extend functionality beyond Microsoft s boxed set of mobile components.
About the only thing missing from the book was a chapter that brings all of these discussions together into a mobile application example that demonstrates the most useful, real-world use of these technologies, such as an e-commerce site or ERP example. Not only would this have provided readers with a capstone of mobile .NET applicability, but also could have given the authors an opportunity to spend a few more pages on what types of application approaches work best within a restricted display space. Just because Microsoft gives developers the tools to extend their applications to the mobile space doesn t necessarily mean that each application is a candidate for such a platform.
Building Microsoft ASP.NET Applications for Mobile Devices is certainly one of the better albeit more expensive mobile ASP.NET application books on the market. It s well written and easy to follow, assuming you have C# familiarity. For those who are already fans of Microsoft Press book style and training pace, this book continues to deliver on that tradition.
Title: Building Microsoft ASP.NET Applications for Mobile Devices, Second Edition
Authors: Andy Wigley and Peter Roxburgh
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Pages: 696 pages