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Exploring Net60

  • August 27, 2008
  • By Alex Gusev
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What Is Net60?

The Net60 platform from Red Five Labs is a .NET Compact Framework v1.0 implementation for Symbian OS. It provides you with a managed cross-platform environment, so you can happily run your applications on both Windows Mobile and Symbian OS-based Smartphones. You could say that it is too good to be true. All your existing skills will be re-used? You still can work in familiar MS Visual Studio 2003/2005 IDE? Real paradise... Well, it does not fully reach such a state (yet), but the shot is indeed pretty close. I forward you to Net60's data sheet for more evangelic descriptions, so let me highlight just some key points about the existing package.

As mentioned earlier, the recent available release of Net60 is binary compatible with .NET Compact Framework v1.0. Moreover, you can deploy only your Smartphone applications. And, only to Nokia S60 phones. As you can find in the FAQ section of the Red Five Labs website, there are plans to support CF.NET v2.0 in the future as well as Pocket PC applications. Smartphone and Pocket PC projects roughly map to the S60 and UIQ style of UI respectively, so this gives you a general idea of what to expect. Besides, you have other nice features available, such as a relatively small footprint, garbage collection, debugging support, and so forth. Just look at the namespaces list:

  • System.*
  • System.Collections.*
  • System.ComponentModel.*
  • System.Diagnostics.*
  • System.Globalization.*
  • System.IO.*
  • System.Net.*
  • System.Security.*
  • System.Text.*
  • System.Threading.*
  • System.Reflection.*
  • System.Resources.*
  • System.Windows.*
  • System.Drawing.*
  • System.Web.Services
  • System.XML.*
  • System.Data

There is no database support yet, but it is also planned. Among those supported paradigms you will find even PInvoke, so you can even call native Symbian APIs if you really need to.

What Do You Need for Net60?

The system requirements for Net60 are relatively simple:

  • MS Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista
  • MS Visual Studio 2005 (MS Visual Studio 2003 is supported by the command line version of tools)
  • .NET Framework 2.0 or above

You also should have Smartphone 2003 SDK installed. The tricky part begins right afterwards. You also will be required to install the following elements:

  • Nokia PC Suite: Used to install runtime and DLLs (Net60.sis) onto a device and to access the Smartphone file directory from the PC.
  • S60 3rd edition SDK Feature Pack 1: Used to gain access to the SignSis and MakeSIS tools for code signing. You can download it from the Forum Nokia site.
  • ActivePerl 5.8 for Windows 32-bit from ActiveState: Used by Symbian tools chain.

Net60's tool for building installation packages (called Genesis) uses regular Symbian utilities to do the job, so all details are mainly hidden from you. But, be careful here! Although the Net60 documentation states that both FP1 and FP2 are supported, you would be required to perform a few magical passes over the Registry values if you don't use S60 3rd edition SDK FP1; otherwise, the Genesis component will be unable to find the S60 SDK root folder and therefore no SIS file will be built. So, if you installed the S60 SDK for Symbian OS 9.3 (referred to as FP2 at the Nokia site), ensure that you have the following keys in the PC Registry:



Click here for a larger image.

Figure 1: Registry settings for Symbian SDK tools

Sample Projects

Net60 ships with a few decent sample projects that guide you through the main concepts and give you a solid base to start from:

  • DataBinding
  • Hello World
  • P_Invoke
  • Simple Menus
  • Smart Stock

Figure 2 (two images) demonstrate the output of a "Hello, World" application on the Windows Smartphone and N82 phone with Symbian OS 9.3:

          

Figure 2: Sample "Hello World" application running on Windows Smartphone and Nokia N82 phone





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