Going mobile at the Microsoft road show
- By Will Kilburn
Programmers Report was recently on hand for the Boston launch of Windows
Server 2003 and Visual Studio .NET. Hosted by a full complement of
Microsoft workers at a Back Bay hotel, the theme of the day was the new
products' claimed ability to cut costs by increasing scalability and
information worker productivity.
"It's really almost painless to do this type of development," said
Microsoft's Russ Fustino (of Russ's Toolshed fame) during a demonstration
of mobile wireless app development using Visual Studio .NET.
The central problem in wireless app development, asserted Fustino, is
formatting the data to fit whatever platform it lands on, whether it's a
desktop, PDA, a Web-enabled cell phone, or any other device with a unique
display as well as processing and input capabilities. Microsoft's aim was
to avoid a return to the days when Web developers had to make different
versions of pages so that they would work on both Netscape and Explorer --
and were often forced to make further changes when new versions of the
browsers were rolled out.
The solution: Connected applications termed "smart clients." To
demonstrate, Fustino built a simple test application, then ran it on
different mobile device emulators that mimicked each machine's capabilities
and limitations. The applause-bringing result: An app that not only worked,
but automatically adapted itself to its outside-world environment -- all
without further tweaking from the developer.
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