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The Windows CE Technology Tutorial: Windows Powered Solutions for the Developer [Paperback]

Chris Muench
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 5 2000 0201616424 978-0201616422 1
Leverage Windows development experience to start building Windows CE 3.0/"Windows-Powered" device applications -- fast!
Master Windows CE by building a real-life sample application -- start-to-finish.
Extensive coverage of Windows CE COM and component development.
Prototyping, CE user interfaces, remote and ActiveSync support, Windows Installer technology, and much more. This is the first complete Windows developers guide to leveraging the power of Windows CE 3.0 and future "Windows-powered" devices. Leading Windows CE developer Chris Muench teaches Windows developers all they need to know to build CE 3.0 applications fast. Start by setting up and mastering the Windows CE 3.0 "Rapier" development environment; then, walk step-by-step through building a robust CE application that utilizes COM components, integrates with Windows 2000 and other Windows desktops, and even provides Internet connectivity. Along the way, developers will learn how to design CE user interfaces, support printing, storage, and remote access; synchronize with desktops via the latest version of ActiveSync; incorporate graphics and audio; even integrate with Pocket Outlook. The accompanying CD-ROM contains all source code, plus tools, helpers, and redistributables for evaluation -- including DeviceCOM, InstallShield for CE, the Microsoft Installer SDK, and the latest versions of ActiveSync.
Chris Muench has been writing applications for Windows CE since the first CE devices came on the market in 1996. Based in Redmond, WA, he serves as Siemens technology ambassador to Microsoft, and is in close contact with the Microsoft Windows CE development team.

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In the opening chapter of The Windows CE Technology Tutorial, author Chris Muench writes, "Developing applications and systems for Windows CE has a lot in common with the art of creating and taking care of bonsai trees." Like cultivators of bonsai trees, Windows CE programmers try to create compact versions of something larger, and frequently expend extra effort in the process. Muench then proceeds to illustrate the bonsai-like elegance and compactness of Windows CE code, while simultaneously showing how to pack handheld applications with loads of functionality.

Windows CE provides a strategy for choosing between eMbedded Visual C++ and eMbedded Visual Basic and then explains how to use each. The discussion of software development under Windows CE--both for desktop applications and those that lack graphical user interfaces--reflects a great deal of practical experience, and on more than one occasion references to undocumented aspects of Windows CE and its development tools are included. The book is careful to document potential pitfalls in certain palm-size PC hardware platforms. Throughout this book, the reader is guided through the development of an application called the Pocket-CD-Manager--which includes ActiveX Controls, database access via ActiveX Data Objects for Windows CE (ADO for CE), ActiveSync, bitmapping tricks, Winsock over IrDA, a help file, an installation script, and an assortment of other features useful for various production applications. It's an effective teaching strategy that turns a fine tutorial into an excellent one. --David Wall

Topics covered: Developing software for palm-size PCs that run Microsoft Windows CE. Development platforms, integrated development environments, simulators, and languages are all compared. The book discusses pretty much the entire Windows CE capability set, including Component Object Model (COM) for Windows CE, graphical user interface (GUI) design, connectivity via TCP/IP and IrDA, bitmaps, sounds, and installation routines. The tutorial also contains a lot of information on the Windows CE hardware specification and Microsoft's Windows CE logo requirements.

From the Inside Flap

Welcome to the World of Windows CE

Windows CE is probably the most underestimated technology Microsoft has ever produced. At present, Windows CE is most commonly used in palm-size and handheld PCs, but in fact it is capable of much more. The embedded environment Windows CE is targeting holds a nearly unlimited reservoir of opportunities for software developers and original equipment manufacturers.

Windows CE was written from scratch but is modeled after its bigger brother Windows. This book will help you to understand the differences between these two brothers and will guide you step by step through all the major technologies of Windows CE.

Back in 1996, when Windows CE was still in diapers, I was already working on several hardware and software products using this program as the base technology. At that time I was working as a technology ambassador for Siemens at Microsoft, which entailed dual responsibilities: to evangelize Windows CE at Siemens and to deliver feedback from Siemens to Microsoft. During my time at Microsoft I made friends in all departments of the Windows CE team. The Microsoft DRG (Developer Relations Group) made sure that I always had the latest Windows CE devices running the newest beta build of their next generation software. The Windows CE Marketing and the Tools Team provided me with the latest versions of SDKs (Software Development Kits) and compilers. Many of those technologies were still in beta when I wrote this book. By the end of 1998 I had collected so much information and knowledge about Windows CE that I thought it would make a useful book for others.

How Is this Book Different from Others?

The title tells you that this book is a technology tutorial. But what is a technology tutorial? A tutorial explains something by walking the reader step by step through an example. This book is a technology tutorial because it uses the tutorial method to walk you through all the essential technologies of Windows CE. Traditional technology books generally discuss a technology in a more theoretical way, for example, by explaining the Application Programmable Interface (API) calls and their parameters. However, during my years of experience as a developer, I found that even the worst example is better than the best theoretical explanation.

During the course of this book you will find innumerable tiny examples and step-by-step explanations showing you how to recreate each example from scratch. At first the explanations will be very detailed, but as you proceed through the book, you'll find that they come to focus more on the essentials.

In addition, this book emphasizes the importance of Windows 2000. This new operating system will quickly become essential for developers, industrial users, and end-customers in the business sector.

The book also stresses the importance of the Common Object Model (COM) approach for Windows CE. COM is the best way of preparing any application for the digital and "distributed-technology" age we will face in the near future--and which I will discuss more fully in Chapter 12.

The "Thread Example": A Real-Life Application

Another big feature of this book is the "thread example." The thread example is a Pocket-CD-Manager (PCDM) application. It allows you to synchronize a database of your CDs with the "Microsoft Deluxe CD Player" on your desktop and manage it with your Windows CE device. The PCDM will, with very few exceptions, explore all the technologies of Windows CE. This example, which gets its name because it weaves through the book like a red thread, is a real-life application that you will create from scratch. At the end of the book the application will be ready for deployment, including a redistributable setup.

How to Read this Book

This book is meant for developers who want to bring their desktop programming experience to Windows CE but have not yet worked on Windows CE. In other words, it is aimed at Win32 professionals who are Windows CE beginners.

To guide you through the technologies of Windows CE, the book contains 12 chapters, each focusing on one area of Windows CE. The order of the chapters is determined by the real-life thread example. As in any tutorial, you will create this real-life example from start to finish. The sample application is a Pocket-CD-Manager that will synchronize a CD library database on your Windows CE device with the library of the Deluxe CD Player on your Windows 2000 desktop. To be more specific, you will learn how to

  • Set up your development machine (Chapters 1-3)
  • Create the first steps of the application by choosing the framework, creating the application base structures, and designing a prototype in eMbedded Visual Basic (Chapters 4-5)
  • Create the framework for two components used in the sample application introducing COM on Windows CE (Chapter 6)
  • Include the UI elements like CommandBar, CommandBand, and ListView, among others (Chapter 7)
  • Add storage capacity to the application using Registry, ObjectStore, and Active Data Objects (ADO) (Chapter 8)
  • Add support for remote technologies like Remote Application Programmable Interface (RAPI), infrared communication, and ActiveSync (Chapter 9)
  • Create a fancy About Box using graphic APIs on Windows CE (Chapter 10)
  • Wrap up the application by adding advanced feature support for palm-size PCs, creating a setup to install the application on Windows CE and to distribute it using the Windows Installer Technology (MSI) (Chapter 11)

    If you follow all the steps, you will end up with a fully functional Pocket-CD-Manager application.

    One goal of this book is to keep the sample code as simple as possible. Therefore you will not check each and every error condition, and some code will look a bit "crude." For example, instead of using dynamically allocated and growing lists, the book will rely upon fixed-dimension arrays.

    Besides the thread example, each chapter will also contain a tiny code snippet that shows the technology at work. This will allow you to jump to any chapter if you are just interested in a specific technology.

    To summarize, the technology section of each chapter will have several sub-sections including all or parts of the following:

  • An introduction to the technology
  • A small code snippet giving you a quick glance at the technology
  • A sub-section wrapping the technology into a COM component
  • A small Visual Basic code snippet using the COM component of the previous sub-section
  • A sub-section adding the COM component to the main PCDM application
  • A summary highlighting the main caveats, gotchas, and remarkable facts of the technology

    The book contains countless examples and sample code. To save space, I provide only the technology-specific code and not all the plumbing code that the eMbedded Visual C++ (eVC) wizards create. If you have to change any code, the new code will be printed in boldface. Most of the code is embedded in step-by-step procedures that explain exactly what you have to do to add the code to the example. Since many of those procedures will have repeated content (for example, adding a method to a COM component), they will become progressively simpler and less detailed as the book progresses.

    // Code lines themselves are printed in fixed letter spaces. The Companion CD

    All source code printed in the book can also be found on the companion CD in the directory Sources. Chapter and section numbers structure this directory. An extra sub-directory contains the sources of the thread example. Inside this directory you will find sub-directories named PCDMUI, for the user interface component; PCDMDLL, containing the core technology component; and PCDM CE, the main thread-example application.

    Other directories include tools, helpers, and some redistributables you can use to evaluate certain third-party technologies like DeviceCOM, InstallShield for CE, the Microsoft Installer SDK, and the latest ActiveSync. The source code on the CD was created using the latest Microsoft eMbedded Visual Tools. I removed all temporary eVC files but kept the executables and DLLs so that you can run the application without having to recompile them. If you open the source-code, you will find the book-specific code between two remark lines:

    // **************************************

    // *************************************

    The thread-example code adds the step number after the chapter number to the remark tag. If you are familiar with Extended Markup Language (XML), you will recognize that we are using XML syntax to mark the code of the book. Using a Visual Basic macro, you could highlight the areas where the book has added code.

    The Beginning at the End

    The final chapter will give you some general ideas about where to go from here and what the digital future may bring. In case you do not know what to do with Windows CE, just read it, and you should come away with at least one idea that leads to a great digital-age product.

    Now, without further ado, let's get started.


  • Inside This Book (Learn More)
    First Sentence
    Developing applications and systems for Windows CE has a lot in common with the art of creating and taking care of bonsai trees. Read the first page
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    Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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    Customer Reviews

    3.3 out of 5 stars
    3.3 out of 5 stars
    Most helpful customer reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Pleased with purchase. June 15 2000
    I highly recommend this book as an excellent collection of applet samples of core features needed to develop for the Pocket PC and other Windows CE devices. The ADOCE chapter is very well done and I think that chapter is worth the price of the book alone.
    This book has been the first book I've found that is useful for Pocket PC development. The author maintains a web site to make any necessary changes in the text or samples, keeping the information extremely up-to-date.
    It was nice to get this book, compile the samples, and see things work first hand. (In contrast, I have been frustrated at books by Microsoft Press that are highly theoretical where the information doesn't make sense until you've already figured it out somewhere else and re-read the chapter. Ex: The Windows CE Programmer's Guide.) Although, I plan to get the Microsoft Press books for reference.
    This book is not a beginner's getting-started book, but is a good book for someone who already has a little experience with Visual Basic or Visual C++. It seems to be targted toward the intermediate and advanced programmer.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    3.0 out of 5 stars moderately detailed book June 29 2001
    There are some useful information in this book, however, this book does not go into great details on each particular subject. The section on writing an activesync provider, as an example, is really scant. The book merely points out what code to change in a cookbook method without ever explaining why its doing it, or explaining the whole architecture clearly for that matter. IF you've ever read LINUX HOWTO materials, you'll know what I mean. It shows you what to do, but it doesn't explain to you why you're doing it.
    The most useful chapter is the last chapter (11 - Miscellaneous topics). As for the rest of the chapters, you can live by reading the online manuals.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    3.0 out of 5 stars Expect more on the latest Pocket PC May 18 2000
    By A Customer
    I bought this book because I expected to find detail on the latest Embedded Tools and Pocket PC platform. It doesnot have in my opinion a "Full coverage of Pocket PC".
    Meunch does focus on many essential topics and I liked the frameworks he used to build the sample application - splitting the UI into one ATL component, and utilities like database access using ADO into another ATL component. If your looking for an example of a complete data oriented application including synchronisation with a compatible desktop app then get this book however if you like me were looking for Pocket PC and the new Embedded Tools then this book is not really up to date.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    1.0 out of 5 stars Written for C++ developers. Nov. 2 2000
    By A Customer
    I wish one reviewer would have stated the obvious:This book is written for C++ developers (the author states this on page 92). If you are trying to write a program using anything like Visual Basic this book might as well have been written in Japanese. The main example developed throughout the book is in C++. 99% of the book is C++. VB is only mentioned as an afterthought and developing using VB as a primary platform is not explained AT ALL! It looks like it could be a good book for C++ developers but I wouldn't know since I am not one. If you want to learn to develop programs for handheld devices using VB forget this book or learn C++ before you buy it.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    All important technologies are covered along with good samples. This book even explains exactly how to recreate those samples from scratch instead of just throwing them at you. Very cool, and very easy to understand. I especially found the thread application in the book pretty neat. It shows how to create complete applications from the first bit through installation. I recommend this book to anybody who wants to write applications for Windows CE, especially Pocket PC which is covered completely. Not surprising since the author also writes for PocketPC.com.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for WinCE Application Developers Oct. 23 2000
    This book provides much information on the differences between various versions of WinCE(1.0,2.0,2.11,2.12,3.0), WinCE hardware platforms(at least 4), and the various WinCE development tools (embedded visual toolkit 3.0,Embedded VB and VC addons for VS 6). The book documents desktop-WinCE interactions and dependencies and also programming 'gotchas' stemming from all these differences that programmers will save much time and aggravation by avoiding. This is critical information for programmers developing WinCE applications.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    By Pete
    This book reminds me of the fluff book that gordon letwin wrote at the dawn of OS/2. Like that one this book is full of hopeless drivel.
    The amount of VB is miniscule, the book is mostly C++. But, It really dosent matter if your looking for VB, or C++ examples, since the chopped up code examples in this book will just confuse you. They have also become outdated in the two years since this book came out.
    Dont bother with this book unless your getting it on the 50% off clearance rack.
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    1.0 out of 5 stars Must be Windows Expert Feb. 7 2002
    This book is a poor choice if you want to learn to program in the Pocket PC environment. The back cover calls this a "practical guide" but the book spends most of the first six chapters describing how Windows CE programming evolved from Windows programming. You must be fluent in Windows application development in C++ for this book to be useful. The examples are poor and do not work with the Visual Tools software available at the Microsoft site.
    Was this review helpful to you?
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    Most recent customer reviews
    3.0 out of 5 stars This book is not for PocketPC
    Unfortunately a lot of examples in this book are not for PocketPC platform. I tested them on x86emu, Compaq iPAQ and Casio PocketPC devices and analized MFC code. Read more
    Published on Aug. 27 2001 by Max Shaposhnikov
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent winsock coverage
    I mainly bought this book for the networking chapter. The winsock code was very helpful and easy to understand.
    Published on May 15 2001 by jsharbour
    1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this book if you want to program in eVB
    This book advertises that it contains information about embedded Visual Basic. Like, only 1% of the book is about eVB. Read more
    Published on Jan. 23 2001 by B. L. Weinstein
    5.0 out of 5 stars Technology Head Start
    Embedded developers have to admit that they are too many acronyms and too many technologies. Thanks to Chris for giving us what we want, clear explanations and SOURCE! Read more
    Published on Nov. 17 2000 by Nat
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book for Winows CE developers
    This book is a very good reference book for me, an experienced developer who has no Windows CE background and didn't work on Windows platform for the last few years. Read more
    Published on Oct. 13 2000 by Jan Schulman
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great Pocket PC Resource
    I recently bought your book and found it very helpful to all aspects of my CE development. Thanks for a good book and I hope you will continue to bring more CE information to... Read more
    Published on Sept. 7 2000 by Scott B. Lewis
    1.0 out of 5 stars Author can't decide on C or Visual Basic...
    Many of the examples in this book are in C, and many are in Visual Basic! If you only want to learn using one of these languages, this book is useless! Read more
    Published on Aug. 3 2000 by J. Barber
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