What tools do you use to develop your Windows Mobile applications? Today I received the following question:
I am looking to develop VB.NET applications for WM5, but I am on far too tight a budget to afford Visual Studio. Is there a way to use VS2008 Express for WM5 development, or is there another free way to do this?
How would you answer this question?
When I first started developing applications as a hobbyist for Palm OS (and then eventually Windows Mobile) I utilised free tools. Free (or at-least cheaply) available IDEs and compilers were a large factor in getting me started in this area of development that has now turned into a professional career. A lot of my friends got started in the same way and Dale Lane mentioned a similar scenario in his recent interview.
I am interested in discussing what tools hobbyists are currently utilising as they discover they can develop custom applications for their PDAs.
At present the main options for Windows Mobile development are most likely as follows:
- Embedded Visual C++ v4.0 – A free download that supports C and C++ development only. Doesn’t provide full support for newer versions of Windows Mobile and is fairly unsupported these days. A number of open source projects use this tool specifically because it’s a free download.
- Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition (or above) – A non free IDE that supports native (C/C++) and managed (C#/VB.NET) development.
- Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition (or above) – A non free IDE that supports native (C/C++) and managed (C#/VB.NET) development (adds support for .NET CF 3.5 development).
This means to develop a VB.NET application for a Windows Mobile PDA you require to purchase a copy of Visual Studio. The free Express editions of the IDE are not suitable.
If someone was interested in mucking around on an occasional Saturday afternoon and slowly learning about Windows Mobile development how would you suggest they go about it without occurring “significant” expense? I guess the 90 day trial version of Visual Studio 2008 Professional is possibly an option, but that does not leave too many weekends before the free license expires.
Is the lack of low cost development tools a problem? Are hobbyists an important part of the Windows Mobile ecosystem? What sort of developer would you classify yourself as? What helped you get started in programming PDA applications? Did you get started in your spare time or as part of your day job? Are there alternative development tools worth taking a look at?
I’m interested in your thoughts on this topic. Please post a comment to this blog entry and join the debate!