Thursday, April 27, 2006
First there is the release of .NET 2.0, and .NET CF 2.0. The .NET CF is part of the new Windows Mobile 5 ,but you can download and install the free distributable on any Pocket PC. Drawback is that there is no freely available Windows Mobile 5 emulator anymore, so you need an actual device to test your applications. Good news is that a compiled .NET CF application will also run on your desktop, so it's not a major issue .
Second there is the new, updated release of SharpDevelop, the excellent freeware C# IDE. that now supports (and even requires) .NET 2.0. I've just started to use it, and it's amazingly easy to create a .NET Windows forms application that runs on your desktop, and with some modifications it also runs on my Pocket PC. Next time I'll tell how.
There are a few possibilities to write Pocket PC software. The 'easiest' way is to buy the the complete Visual Studio .NET suite. This has all the bells and whistles required to write Pocket PC applications in using Visual C or the .NET Compact Framework. Unfortunately it's also rather expensive...
Fortunately Microsoft also tries to promote the platform by giving away the free Embedded VisualC SDK. Though a little bit 'outdated' in appearance, it's a fully functional IDE , with compiler, debugger and emulator for writing MFC-based C++ code. So far I've written all my software using EVC 3 and 4 and it works quite satisfactory. It's probably still the most efficient way to write Pocket PC programs because the C++ language is very close to the Windows API. Unfortunately it's also difficult to master, and the learning curve is steep and long.
It should be easier to use the .NET Compact Framework, which is standard on Windows Mobile 2003 and higher. Unfortunately the only 'supported' way to write .NET CF programs is by using Visual Studio. So if you're not that rich you'll have to go the unsupported way: