Introduction to Developing .Net Mobile Applications.

July 20, 2008

There are many tools on the market for creating application for mobile phones and portable devices. This blog post investigates the technologies necessary for creating Microsoft related ASP.Net mobile applications.

Window Mobile (OS)
Window mobile is a compact operating system for mobile devices. These devices include Pocket PCs, Smartphones, Portable Media Centres and on-board computers for cars. Windows Mobile has been designed to be similar aesthetic to Vista and is currently at version 6.1 with a new release scheduled for 2010.

.Net Compact Framework
The .Net compact framework is a scaled sown version of the .Net Framework and uses some of the same class libraries with a few additional libraries designed specifically for mobile devices. This can be integrated with Visuals Studio 2003, 2005 and 2008 to develop impressive mobile windows form based and web based applications.

ASP.Net Mobile Controls and the Microsoft Internet Toolkit
Developing applications for mobile devices can be a challenging as there are certain limitations, which include:

  • Different mark-up languages for PDAs, Cell phones or Japanese phones.
  • Devices have a varying number or display lines, horizontal/vertical orientation and screen colours.
  • Different network connectivity
  • Capabilities, display resolution and ability to make phone calls.

All these factors must be taken into consideration when developing applications for mobile devices.

This is where the Microsoft Internet toolkit comes in, as it addresses these issues so that developers can build one mobile web application that delivers the appropriate mark-up for a wide range of mobile devices.

The mobile toolkit contains:

  • Mobile web form controls which are similar to ASP.Net controls as the generate mark-up code
  • Mobile Internet Designer which integrates with Visual Studio .Net IDE to provide a web application design environment
  • Browser Capabilities which makes it possible to run ASP.Net functionality on mobile devices
  • Quick Start Tutorial with sample code
  • Developer Documentation
  • Device adapter code samples

Using a combination of the Windows Mobile operating system, .Net Compact Framework, and the Microsoft Internet Toolkit applications can be written to run on a wide range of mobile devices in a similar manor to that of regular browser base applications.

These are the three basic tools that are necessary to start building applications that target mobile devices.
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular as people continually want to stay connected when they are away from their desk. Microsoft has developed a cohesive little package of products that integrate well together and provide an infrastructure similar to their full blown application development environment. This will hopefully encourage developers to venture into the world of mobile application development.