At the beginning of January, 2005, Developer.com started the next loop of its Product of the Year 2005 Contest. In this article, I’ll briefly cover the contest’s finalists and highlight their exciting features. The last year hasn’t brought us great surprises, to tell you the truth. The Wireless Mobile Developers community seems to be keeping its preferences sternly enough. If you’ll take a look at the finalists of Year 2004, you’ll see that few products have just vanished for some reason, and some new ones have jumped in. Nevertheless, the core players are here. A more interesting fact is that some of the nominees are presented in several contest categories. This definitely ranks their quality and attractiveness for developers. But well, I should unveil who the finalists of the Wireless/Mobile Development Product of the Year 2005 Contest were:
- AppForge Crossfire 5.5
- IBM Cloudscape V10.0
- Sun Microsystems Inc J2ME Wireless Toolkit 2.2
- Microsoft MapPoint Location Server
- Nokia Series 40 Developer Platform 2.0
- Sybase PocketBuilder
In the next sections, I’ll quickly describe each finalist and its possible pros and cons. We developers understand that there are no ideal products; each one has its own pluses and minuses. Our own applications are just perfect example of it. However, we make the decision of which product or tool to use in particular situation basing on thousands of factors. I hope that this article also can help you in this tender topic too.
AppForge Crossfire 5.5
In November, 2004, AppForge (www.appforge.com) released the next generation of its multi-platform development solution. Crossfire applications will run on a long list of the handheld, mobile, and wireless devices including Palm OS, Motorola A1000, Pocket PC 2000/2002, Windows Mobile 2003, Nokia Series 60, and Symbian UIQ.
Crossfire transparently intergates itself into various MS Visual Studio IDEs. Programmers may use VB 6.0, VB.NET, or C# to create applications for mobile devices running different platforms within their regular environment. Crossfire applications are created using specialized mobile controls, libraries, and modules that are available in the IDE. Crossfire is shipped with more than 30 standard controls, as well as modules and libraries for database synchronization, bar code scanning, communications, and telephony. Crossfire 5.5 has an ability to read Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.
To run AppForge applications, you need to install The AppForge Crossfire Client (Booster) on the target mobile device. Booster allows Crossfire applications to take full advantage of all the specific hardware features on the mobile and wireless devices.
But, nothing is costless, unfortunately. Booster has a footprint from about 300 Kb up to 1 Mb, depending on device and OS. Well known also is that, when you’re using any additional library or framework, the application size grows rapidly. All this is true for Crossfire, and can be an unacceptable overhead for systems with highly restricted resources.
IBM Cloudscape V10.0
Sun Microsystems Inc J2ME. Wireless Toolkit 2.2
Java technology has a huge install base. It is deployed in more than 350 million Java technology-enabled mobile devices from numerous manufacturers and mobile operators worldwide. Approximately 1.5 billion consumers are expected to be using mobile technologies by 2007. So, applause goes to the Winner!
But, J2ME Wireless Toolkit 2.2 is really cool. It is much more than just the next release of a powerful tool. It implements more than a dozen new, impressive features:
- Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC) 1.1 (JSR 139)
- Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) 2.0 (JSR 118)
- Java Technology for the Wireless Industry (JTWI) 1.0 (JSR 185)
- Wireless Messaging API (WMA) 2.0 (JSR 205)
- Mobile Media API (MMAPI) 1.1 (JSR 135)
- PDA Optional Packages for the J2ME Platform (JSR 75)
- Java APIs for Bluetooth (JSR 82)
- J2ME Web Services Specification (JSR 172)
- Mobile 3D Graphics API for J2ME (JSR 184)
- Support for Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) in the WMA console
- Simulated Bluetooth environment for JSR 82 support
- New large-screen (QVGA) DefaultColorPhone emulator skin
- Network monitor support for MMS and Bluetooth
In addition, existing tools have been improved and enhanced to better suit developers’ dreams. As the world of wireless Java technology grows rapidly, the J2ME Wireless Toolkit keeps pace and contains all the tools you need. You can download the toolkit from the Sun site so that you can get excited by its capabilities.
In terms of applications and applets running on mobile devices, Java’s J2ME became a preferred platform for development, over and above a number of other development platforms, including Microsoft’s Windows CE Compact Framework. It has gathered strong developer support and is intrinsically a better choice for highly diverse hardware and software environments that currently exist in the mobile and wireless market. This trend has proved itself during the last few years. I believe that such a drift will continue while Microsoft’s CE.NET initiative will gradually get stronger. As you can see, there were no pure Microsoft’s products among the nominees in the mobile/wireless category this year. It may be a result of a delay with the Visual Studio 2005 release. It has been announced to be delivered at the end of 2004, but… Let’s hope that Microsoft has meant its fiscal year. Nevertheless, we’ve whitnessed a significant improvement in PDAs’ hardware capabilities. Devices have gotten more powerful, utilized much more memory on board, screen quality has reached VGA resolution, and so forth. All these factors can give a new leap to each big player on the mobile market.
About the Author
Alex Gusev started to play with mainframes at the end of the 1980s, using Pascal and REXX, but soon switched to C/C++ and Java on different platforms. When mobile PDAs seriously rose their heads in the IT market, Alex did it too. Now, he works at an international retail software company as a team leader of the Mobile R department, making programmers’ lives in the mobile jungles a little bit simpler.