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Fotofield for Pocket PC review
Posted on 5-Dec-2004 17:39 by M Freitas | Tags Filed under: Reviews


The Fotofield program is an interesting association of a very easy to use forms designer and small run-time with an interface to the Pocket PC camera API. Users in the field are more likely to have a reason to utilise this program.

For example, real estate agents could easily take pictures of new houses in the market and immediately associate information with each picture taken. Insurance companies could have this program deployed as part of the tools used by on-the road assessment people to capture images of accidents. Or someone involved with the flower market can take pictures of new flowers while travelling in Holland, insert detailed information and send back to a central location where all purchases are decided (no kidding, you should see how flowers are bought and sold throughout the world).

Amateur photographers can benefit of the program too. Or even mobile blog authors. You can take your pictures and attach some data - who/where/how/why - and use this for upload later.

What is really interesting is that users need no knowledge of programming to create a simple to use database (with Insert function only) containing images and related data. This information can then be easily transferred to a PC via ActiveSync or by sending the files via a wireless connection.

The program currently works on HTC Himalaya models only. This means that you’ll need to have an i-mate Pocket PC Phone Edition, an O2 XDA II or a T-Mobile MDAII (or any compatible Pocket PC). It looks like the author will work on providing support for the newer HTC Blue Angel (GPRS) and HTC Harrier (CDMA) models (currently i-mate PDA2k, O2 XDAIIi, T-Mobile MDAIII and others) in the future.

All externals files are XML based, including forms definition, data definition, and data collected, except the pictures. The data structure associated with an Image set is called a Template. The Template describes one (or multiple) forms contents and how forms are linked. The name of each Template is also used to create a folder under \My Documents, which will hold all XML data and associated pictures.

On the PC side we have a Template Editor. The program allows us to create a form (or more than one), the fields in each form, and the linking structure.

Fields can have a label and name. We can have Text fields, Memo fields, and drop-down lists with user defined items. We can move these fields up and down the form. The Template Editor also has the facility to preview the form with a Pocket PC skin.


The forms, fields and link structure


Creating a list (click for larger image)


Preview available while creating forms on PC

Once the form is Generated and synchronized to the Pocket PC we can start using it. From the mobile Fotofield application we can select the Template and start taking pictures. Every form has a CAMERA button, and once a picture is taken we’re automatically back into FotoField. We can then enter the data to be associated with this image.

The demo Real Estate template comes with four forms to capture data like Address, Property type (Apartment, House, Sell/Rent, Price), Property use (Private/Commercial, floors, area) and Details (# of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc). It’s a nice demo and easy to understand.





The easiest way to have the files on a computer is via ActiveSync. Once synchronized we’ll find an index.html file with links to all data captured with each different Template. This index.html file inserts a few .xml files with pointers to the correct data, and present this through any browser.


The captured data in browser (click for larger image)


More samples of captured data in browser (click for larger image)

The Template Editor however can be used to open the data files, and export the information to a .csv (comma separated value) file. Users can do anything with this .csv file, e.g. use it as an input for a script that imports data and images into database.

Good
Easy to create forms
Forms preview on desktop
Small application on Pocket PC
Automatic creation of index.html file
XML structure

Bad
Couldn't find anything to put in here really!






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