Review: OpenNETCF Smart Device Framework
OpenNETCF Smart Device Framework 1.2
If you've been sucked into watching the Food Network, you surely know
Emeril Lagasse and his trademarked "kick it up a notch!" That's the
image that this product brings to mind for me. Even though the .NET
Compact Framework is an absolutely fabulous environment for developing
mobile applications (especially if you ever tried to do anything serious
in previous PocketPC development tools), the addition of this open
source application framework really kicks things up a notch.
The SDF brings both new classes and new controls to development for
Smart Devices (the catchall term that includes both SmartPhones and
PocketPCs). Some of these are things from the full Framework that
Microsoft left out of the .NET CF, some are new ideas. Here's some of
what you get:
- A WSE 2.0 implementation
- Configuration handlers
- A raft of forms controls, including battery monitor, DateTimePicker,
an ink control, a signature control, a sound player, and extended
versions of some of the built-in controls
- Cryptography classes
- Some threading support
- An XmlSerializer
- Multimedia classes
- Networking support
All in all, there is a batch of useful stuff here that's just plain
missing from the basic .NET Compact Framework.
When you install the package, you'll find an OpenNETCF application type
added to the New Project dialog box in Visual Studio .NET, as well as a
help file (which is unfortunately a bit sketchy in spots), samples, and
the source code. It's easy to get going just by creating a new project
and using what you find in it; building and deploying are identical to
the same processes with a standard .NET CF project.
Overall, I'm quite happy with this package. The developers who've worked
on it for free have done a better job of extending a Microsoft product
than just about anyone, and they've added truly useful functionality for
mobile developers. And it just works, which is just what one wants from
a set of libraries.
The software is distributed under a very liberal Shared Source License.
You're free to incorporate it into your own applications without having
to reveal your source code or pay royalties. You can download the
source, the compiled binaries, or view the license from the OpenNETCF
Web site -- which is also, by the way, a fine repository of information
on .NET Compact Framework programming in general.