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  • PowerBASIC for Windows CE?

    I just installed Microsoft's eMbedded Visual Basic and eMbedded Visual C++ for developing PocketPC applications. What a joke! eVB is nothing more than VBScript, which offers a very limited subset of the VB language and relatively few controls. The controls that it does offer are full of inconsistencies as far as appearance and functionality are concerned. For example, the command button and scroll bar controls are plain 2D, whereas the scrollbars built into the textbox control are 3D. Other controls that VB programmers are used to offer very limited functionality. For example, there is no .Image property of the PictureBox control for obtaining the graphical contents of the control. Furthermore, there is only support for one data type (Variant) and a large part of the WinCE API is totally inaccessible from eVB. Also, because eVB is interpreted, it does not generate .EXE files, but instead generates .VB files that are interpreted by VBSCRIPT.DLL (which is generally built into the firmware on a Pocket PC. Even so, it still requires at least one runtime file, PVBLOAD.EXE, and most of the time additional files). To top it all off, there are at least three different flavors of Windows CE - handheld, palmtop, and PocketPC. Some commands/controls (or properties and methods of) that are available in one version may not be supported in another. A real mess.

    On the other hand, eMbedded Visual C++ allows you to do virtually anything, but is very cumbersome to use. I couldn't get any the sample projects to run. I'm sure if I spent a few more hours I could manage to get stuff to work, but when I looked at the code for accomplishing even the simplest of tasks, it seemed daunting. If you're going to do any sort of user interface, Microsoft recommends that you use eVB.

    It would be great if there was a way to use PowerBASIC to generate Windows CE .EXE files. Does anyone know if this is possible? I realize that there would need to be some sort of add-on or patch, since there are several different processors used by PocketPC manufacturers (Intel Strong ARM, Hitachi, MIPS). If not, has anyone heard if the company is bringing out a WinCE development product? Based on the comments I've been reading in the newsgroups, people are generally displeased with the half-assed development products Microsoft has provided for developing on the PocketPC platform. I think PowerBASIC is sitting on a goldmine if they can pull it off. Relative to past attempts, the PocketPC platform (Windows CE 3.0) is and will continue to be very successful. My only advice to PowerBASIC would be to offer a complete tool, not just a subset, that can produce fast and efficient .EXE files and can access the entire WinCE API.


    [This message has been edited by Dean Sadata (edited August 15, 2000).]

  • #2
    The CPUs used by Windows CE machines are not compatible with Intel processors. The PowerBASIC compiler would need to be massively rewritten to work with each of the different CPUs involved. This could happen, but is not exactly an immediate prospect.

    ------------------
    Tom Hanlin
    PowerBASIC Staff

    Comment


    • #3
      While of course converting PB to work on other CPUs would mean
      a lot of work for PowerBasic, but IMO if a version of PB for use
      on a Windows CE device could be made, it would be a "hit".

      PowerBasics greatest strength is the "small size" of the executables
      that the compiler produces. The Windows CE platform by its nature
      requires as small an app as possible. Since PB produces apps that
      are nearly as fast as ones written in C, it would make a fantastic
      tool for Windows CE development.

      Of course this is only a "wish", but it could open up larger markets
      for the PB compiler. VB wouldn't have a chance compared to PB for
      CE.

      I cast my vote for a Windows CE compiler !


      ------------------
      Chris Boss
      Computer Workshop
      Developer of "EZGUI"
      http://cwsof.com
      http://twitter.com/EZGUIProGuy

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree. Just judging by the huge demand for the Compaq iPaq 3630/50 and HP Jornada 540/5/8 Pocket PCs, the redesigned Windows CE 3.0 is already a huge success. These units are getting rave reviews in almost every computer magazine, and the potential for widespread wireless Internet access will certainly add fuel their success over the next couple years.

        Also, development sites seem to be popping up all over:
        http://www.pocketpc.com/ http://vbce.com/ http://www.pocketprojects.com http://www.pocketnow.com/ http://www.cetj.com/ http://www.cewindows.net/ http://www.hpc.net/ http://www.pocketdownloads.com/ http://www.vbforce.com/ http://wincecity.com/boards/Developers/ http://www.cetoolbox.com/ http://www.members.home.com/pocket-central/

        If I were PowerBASIC, I would be devoting a significant part of my development team to CE. Various forms of this embedded OS will be popping up in all sorts of places (cell phones, photocopiers, AutoPCs, etc.).

        ------------------

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Dean Sadata:
          I agree. Just judging by the huge demand for the Compaq iPaq 3630/50 and HP Jornada 540/5/8 Pocket PCs, the redesigned Windows CE 3.0 is already a huge success. These units are getting rave reviews in almost every computer magazine, and the potential for widespread wireless Internet access will certainly add fuel their success over the next couple years.

          If I were PowerBASIC, I would be devoting a significant part of my development team to CE. Various forms of this embedded OS will be popping up in all sorts of places (cell phones, photocopiers, AutoPCs, etc.).

          Hmmm, maybe it's already on the schedule...just as soon as that Linux compiler starts shipping.

          MCM


          Michael Mattias
          Tal Systems Inc. (retired)
          Racine WI USA
          [email protected]
          http://www.talsystems.com

          Comment


          • #6
            I was going to make a similar post. I just got done looking at (drooling over) Compaq's IPaq.

            This thing SCREAMS. I couldn't believe how fast the screens popped up.

            Of course, the magazines rave about the development environments, and I wondered if there was a real catch in the VB area. The articles DID NOT mentioned VBScript was the language.

            The Compaq IPAQ uses the StrongArm processor. And, has only 4,096 colors. But it can be used in direct sunlight and it has a long life for each battery charge.

            I think a PowerBasic/DLL would be great, but it would need to support multiple processors... and I don't think that would be a possibility.

            Someone will get rich writing a C++ interpreter for a GUI builder. Right now their is one Forms type package for these Windows CE. It appears to be doing very well.

            John

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            Comment


            • #7
              As usual, I agree. I think PowerBasic is really missing the boat on this one, but I've said that before and obviously no one is listening. I couldn't care less about PowerBasic for *nix (the market is tiny), but CE will be big and PowerBasic would be a perfect fit. PowerBasic for CE would be well worth whatever resources would be required to develop it.

              ------------------
              Peter Amick
              Baybuild Solutions
              Peter Amick
              Baybuild Solutions

              Comment


              • #8
                Disclaimer... I do not know if PowerBASIC R&D have anything up their sleeve on such a project - they often play their cards close to their chest!

                Out of [personal] curiousity, how many of you guys are actually writing for the CE platform with another brand of compiler, or is this request more along the lines of "If we had PB/CE we do it, otherwise we're not interested in devoting the time to learn another all about another brand of compiler, the O/S, and it's quirks" ?

                Assuming you have specific goals for such a (series?) of compilers, have you got any *specific* [commercial] projects in mind for this kind of work or is it purely experimental? For your projects to be commercially viable, you'd have to be expecting to deal with either mass-market or vertial-market areas, or your efforts would not be economic.

                I guess I'm asking how "serious" and "real-world" these requests are...

                ------------------
                Lance
                PowerBASIC Support
                mailto:[email protected][email protected]</A>
                Lance
                mailto:[email protected]

                Comment


                • #9
                  Lance;

                  I bought the book "Microsoft Windows CE Programmers Guide" to
                  learn more about CE. Since CE is a "true" subset of the Windows
                  API, it would seem that it would be a "natural" step for most
                  (or at least many) API programmers.

                  If you can program the API for Windows, you can program CE. The
                  only thing missing is a compiler.

                  Palm computers will always be behind desktop PCs when it comes to
                  things like memory (and whatever permanent storage is used). The
                  small size obviously limits what they can squeeze in there.

                  VB is a "poor" choice for Palm computers since a large runtime
                  and the slew of extra OCXs needed makes it "bloatware". While
                  this can be overlooked on a desktop PC, it can't on a Palm computer.

                  I would think PowerBasic is always looking for new markets and this
                  is one that you could easily become a "leader" in.

                  We wouldn't even need the full set of PB 6 commands in a CE compiler.
                  If you could create a CE compiler (cross compiler for multiple CPUs)
                  with a "minimal subset" of Basic commmands, this would be enough.

                  I know this is only a "wish", but I think it also makes good
                  marketing sense.

                  The future holds many things like Palm computers that can access
                  the internet. When VCRs and Microwaves first were released few
                  people had them. Now "everybody" has one. The same may hold true
                  for Palm computers.

                  This is just my opinion of course and I am sure you guys at
                  PowerBasic are looking at this prospect from "all angles".

                  ------------------




                  [This message has been edited by Chris Boss (edited August 16, 2000).]
                  Chris Boss
                  Computer Workshop
                  Developer of "EZGUI"
                  http://cwsof.com
                  http://twitter.com/EZGUIProGuy

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Lance,

                    I currently have a package written using PBCC and PBDLL which
                    creates, maintains and generates reports for a large client
                    doing field disconnects for Time Warner Cable. I am also
                    using a product called CASLSOFT which is an interpreter with
                    a runtime that runs on most all Palm handhelds. Using Caslsoft
                    CE, I created a program to maintain and change the database
                    on the handheld's by the field technicans doing the actual
                    work.

                    Here is how it basically works:

                    1. Client receives records to be disconnected on disk from Time
                    Warner. The new data base file is created on the PC using
                    the CableWork program(written PBCC and PBDLL)

                    2. The data is processed on the PC and workorders are assigned
                    out to individual field technicans. The Client will receive
                    on the average 500 accounts and these are then divided out
                    to 8 to 10 field techs.

                    3. The CableWork program then creates CASL database files
                    for each technican in the Palm User directories. These are then
                    hotsync'd to the individual techs Palm's.

                    4. As the field work is done, the techs change the status of
                    the records on the Palm, reports either disconnects, payments
                    collected, and converters collected.

                    5. On return from the field, the Palms are hotsync'd back to the
                    PC.

                    6. The PC database is updated from the Palm/User returned
                    hotsync files.

                    7. Reports are created, including individual tech results,
                    overall tech results, total disconnects, total money collected,
                    total converters picked up, etc.

                    8. A invoice is created and a outgoing file from the PC is
                    created on disk for Time Warner to update their database.
                    Most of this is all done in one day.

                    We are only doing this currently in one city. But since
                    Time Warner contracts out most of this work, there is a
                    market out there of about 3000 contractors.

                    If we have found this market, there has to be many more
                    out there similiar.

                    In conclusion, it would have been and would be great for
                    future projects, if I could write the code and maintain
                    the code for the Handhelds with PowerBasic.

                    My .02 worth.

                    Phil

                    ------------------
                    E-Mail:
                    pt AT pursuersoft DOT com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hello,

                      I completely agree with everyones wish for a CE compiler from PB. The embedded OS market is very hot right now and CE 3.0 is doing very well in that space. Win CE 3.0 is also hot in non Pocket PC areas such as factory automation, internet appliances, home automation, etc. I am currently working on a home automation system in my spare time and my dream platform would be a PC/104 mini MB with flash storage running Win 3.0 embedded along with Winlift. I could use this for both the touch screens and the home gateway. Currently systems like this can had from companies such as Panja and Crestron for mucho dollars. Even all the newest home automation control standards such as UPnp are TCP/IP based so this fits great with PB.

                      Brent...

                      ------------------

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Lance,
                        In response to your request for "how serious/how real":

                        I write applications and utilities for a small family-run
                        business. They run on our network of server, workstations, and
                        dockable laptops. I'm adapting some programs for internet.

                        The apps range from manufacturing, email, order processing, and
                        other managerial and administrative tasks. Utiliies generally
                        pertain to data translation and format conversions.

                        One obstacle is the staff's reluctance to "lug" a laptop
                        everywhere. (Obviously, none of them remembers the Compaq
                        "portable" sewing-machine 8086...)

                        I could probably get my users to take pocket-sized units with
                        them and use them effectively, IF they saw immediate business
                        benefit. Must be both: useful and unobtrusive. (BTW, some users
                        have said that "too small" could also be a problem...)

                        However, I would not be able to provide development on any
                        platform that was significantly different from standard DOS and
                        Windows. We just don't have the resources, nor do we wish to
                        contract for something so specialized.

                        *IF* I had access to the CE, AND it resembled what we already
                        have expertise with, THEN we'd get into it (*provided that* the
                        cost for the development environment was not unreasonable).

                        Until then, we recognize that CE would be nice, but we're not
                        planning on using it yet.

                        Most assuredly, we would NOT be going outside our own needs
                        into external markets.

                        Hope this helps,
                        -John


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                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Lance Edmonds:


                          how many of you guys are actually writing for the CE platform with another brand of compiler
                          Lance,

                          I have written a program for CE, a builders calculator which inputs and outputs in feet, inches, cubic yards, etc., for on-the-jobsite work. I have a prototype written in VBCE, but the memory usage and sluggish performance of VB would make me embarrassed to market the program as is. If there was a PowerBasic for CE, the calculator would be on the market today. Not a major program, to be sure, but it's one of several I would be working on if I could get my hands on a good Basic compiler for CE.

                          ------------------
                          Peter Amick
                          Baybuild Solutions
                          Peter Amick
                          Baybuild Solutions

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Peter,
                            If you deal mostly with the construction industry and have several
                            of these utilities that they use written in either DOS or Windows, you
                            may want to take a look at http://www.daptech.com/wbp/produc00.htm
                            to see some handhelds which use standard desktop OS's. These ****ers
                            are TOUGH and waterproof. I personally saw one drop 30 feet pausing
                            only to kiss a fluorescent light on the way down to a concrete floor.
                            The only damage was the case seal was extruded in one place, but still
                            completely functional. They're pretty proud of em' with a price of
                            about/at least $3K a copy, though. We've been using them for four years
                            in a nuke plant and they've taken everything we can dish out. One
                            other thing I'd like to say (for outdoor use) is that when it's below
                            freezing out, the LCD does not fade away like on those old watches.
                            It's actually temperature compensated. Anyway, just something to
                            think about in the mean time.

                            ------------------
                            [email protected]

                            [This message has been edited by Wyman A Belts (edited August 17, 2000).]

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well, I like the HP-48 scientific calculator that can accept
                              input of numerical data and then upload to a PC.

                              But like a post above gave an example of, the Palms and Pockets
                              are data flip-sheets or data collectors which interface with
                              a parent application on a PC. I think that is the model to
                              be aware of and that's based on experience in an industry that is
                              remote-site-based or field-mobile.

                              ------------------

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Wyman,

                                Thanks for the tip. I'm familiar with some of the ruggedized CE machines, but I wasn't aware of any running 'standard' Windows. I'll have to look into it, though I don't know how prevalent they are in the construction field, which tends to be a bit lower-tech than the nuclear industry.

                                Of course, at those prices, I could never afford a test machine!


                                ------------------
                                Peter Amick
                                Baybuild Solutions
                                Peter Amick
                                Baybuild Solutions

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Peter Amick:
                                  As usual, I agree. I think PowerBasic is really missing the boat on this one, but I've said that before and obviously no one is listening. I couldn't care less about PowerBasic for *nix (the market is tiny), but CE will be big and PowerBasic would be a perfect fit. PowerBasic for CE would be well worth whatever resources would be required to develop it.
                                  "the market is tiny"
                                  Well it's even smaller for Windows CE
                                  PLUS *nix isn't ****, windows ce is.


                                  ------------------
                                  http://www.sublevel6.f2s.com/

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Andreas_Allerdahl:
                                    "the market is tiny"
                                    Well it's even smaller for Windows CE
                                    PLUS *nix isn't ****, windows ce is.
                                    From what many people are predicting, the CE market will be huge. Linux is pretty much in a class of its own, and while I believe it has great potential and will continue to have a healthy market share, there's too much hype surrounding it. Windows CE, on the other hand, is more or less an extension of what most people already have on their desktops and laptops, and for that reason alone, I believe it will be very successful.

                                    I don't think anyone would dispute that the Palm Pilot is a smashing success, and it seems that Microsoft has taken note of the reasons why Palm was a hit and applied these to CE 3.0. However, I've purposely not purchased a Palm for the last few years because none of the models offered the power and flexibility I wanted.

                                    I just got my wife an HP Jornada 548 PocketPC a few days ago and I have a Compaq iPaq H3650 on order. I can now carry around my email, documents, spreadsheets and databases, in addition to all the basic stuff like contacts, calendars, task lists, notes, etc. In terms of hardware, it's way ahead of Palm (even their high-end models) in every area: display, processor, memory, and expansion. And most important, it's easy to use. Microsoft finally seems to be getting it right, with a few improvements needed here and there. The PocketPC seems to have it's own distinct identity; it's not obscure like the ealier CE handhelds and palmtops that tried to squeeze a scaled-down version of Windows into a smaller (but not really small enough) package. It appears that WinCE 3.0 was designed specifically to support the types applications and functions that the PocketPC would be used for.

                                    Now, as far as development environments, it's got eMbedded Visual C++ (too complex and way too much debugging, etc. for even simple projects) and eMbedded Visual Basic (way too inflexible and greatly lacking in every area). We need ePB (eMbedded PowerBASIC).



                                    ------------------

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Andreas_Allerdahl:
                                      *nix isn't ****, windows ce is.

                                      I really don't care if CE is **** or not, I only care about what people are using...and I think that people are, and will be, using CE.

                                      ------------------
                                      Peter Amick
                                      Baybuild Solutions
                                      Peter Amick
                                      Baybuild Solutions

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        "Handheld devices, now well beyond fad status, accounted for retail sales of $460 million in 1999 and almost matched that amount in the first six months of this year. The pocket-size computers are growing more sophisticated by the day and are being touted for widespread use everywhere from classrooms to hospitals to Navy ships."-The Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2000.

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