Windows Mobile Development - What you need to get started

, posted: 8-Mar-2006 00:00

OK. So I have been meaning to write some instructions for getting into developing applications for Windows Mobile devices for some time, and since I have this nice shiny new blog, I guess this is the right time to do it.

Therefore - this will be the first in a series of posts on Windows Mobile .Net Compact Framework development. The idea is to take you on a trip (if it should amount to such) through from day 0 to development of a basic application for the Pocket PC or Smartphone - I haven't decided which yet and the reason will be disclosed in a later post. Along the way there will be other little bits and peices of mobile related thoughts to add variety.

So this entry is really just a pointer - what do you need to get started developing applications for Windows Mobile?

The list is (fortunately) quite really need to get Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition and thats it.

Visual Studio Standard is the lowest of the non free versions of Visual Studio (compare Visual Studio Editions). It includes the project templates to get you started, it also includes SQL Mobile and most importantly Windows Mobile emulators. You should be able to buy Visual Studio 2005 Standard from most software retailers. You can order a trial from here. For New Zealanders, you should watch my work blog, as I'm in the process of setting up a page so you can get a trial of Visual Studio 2005 delivered for free.

Here's a question you see occaisionally... "Why are the tools for Windows Mobile Development not free?". Good question... they used to be. Before VS2005 we had Embedded Visual Basic and Embedded C++ which were freely available. However, when VS2005 was relesed support for these tools was dropped and the Embedded VB Runtime is no longer supported. After Tech Ed 2005 a few of us had dinner with John Case who is a director in the Microsoft Devoper Tools division. I asked him this question, and he told me that they lobbied hard to make them free, but were not allowed to. This might change in the next version of Visual Studio... but we'll have to wait and see.

Having installed Visual Studio 2005 you will need ActiveSync 4.1 (download here). If you have a Windows Mobile Device, you should already have ActiveSync installed, but make sure you have the latest version installed (which is 4.1 at time of writing). Visual Studio 2005 requires version 4.1 or later for mobile development.

The only other thing you will need is required if you are wanting to develop specifically for Windows Mobile 5 - that is the Windows Mobile 5 SDK for the platform you want to develop for (download Pocket PC SDK, download Smartphone). The SDK includes the Visual Studio project templates and emulators for the specific platform.

Next - What Windows Mobile devices should I develop for?

Other related posts:
More on UMPCs replacing high end Pocket PC's

Comment by Damian, on 22-Mar-2006 17:00

This sounds like a great idea Darryl, I look forward to following along and trying my hand at development.

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Darryl Burling
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