Phone SharpMT 3.2.1 – Beta 1

What’s Phone SharpMT? I guess some history needs to be rehashed.

SharpMT got started because I wanted a MT/TypePad specific offline blog writer for my notebook; when I started working on SharpMT over three years ago, there simply weren’t any tools that were tied tightly to MT. Pocket SharpMT got spun off during SharpMT 2 because people asked me to do it… Pocket PC’s were getting keyboards and WiFi so it started to make sense. Shortly after getting that out, the Phone-enabled Pocket PC devices hit and Pocket SharpMT went with them. Meanwhile, SharpMT went to version 3 with a new design and using the .NET 2.0 Framework… Pocket SharpMT eventually stepped up to the newer Framework as well.

And then Motorola finally got the Q out the door… a Smartphone based device with a thumb-sized keyboard… and, well, since I might have one someday, a new version of SharpMT simply had to be kicked off:

Phone SharpMT is for the Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone platform.

And now the details.

Or as many as I can offer. You see, the biggest problem with developing on mobile devices is that to really test things fully, you really need a lot of devices. I have one. So there’s going to have to be a lot of leaps in faith much like there had to be when I started work on the Pocket version. The best testing I’ve done has been on the Emulator and on my own T-Mobile SDA.

Yes, you need the 2.0 version of the .NET Compact Framework. You had to see that coming. Do you need the SP1 release? I have no idea. When I first installed the CAB file to the SDA it yelled at me that I needed a newer Framework. But then again, I really don’t remember if the SDA even had a copy of the 2.0 Framework. So I don’t know.

What devices are supported? Any Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone device.

Which type of device do you have? Well, if you have a touch screen you probably have a Pocket PC phone: use Pocket SharpMT. If you don’t have a touch screen, you probably have a Smartphone: use Phone SharpMT. Will it run on devices without a full keyboard? Sure. Would you want to use it? Doubtful!

What features came over? Most of Pocket SharpMT’s functionality, actually. No HTML tag support, though: can’t select text and there’s limited menu room, so they got axed! Then there’s the issues of the Draft files. Draft files can go from PC to Pocket PC to Smartphone. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there’s Open/Save File dialog that’s part of the Smartphone environment… so I’ve had to make my own and I’ve done what I can with it.

On the Open/Save dialogs: I don’t limit you to any one directory. You can tool all over the thing, but the UI was limiting and it’s so-so. 24 hours ago I thought it sucked but now, after an extra night of testing I’m much happier with what I’ve got now. So much so that I might just release the DLL and piss off a bunch of people – people are charging way too much for their current controls and it should be in the Framework anyway.

To Open a file, select one in the list view. To Save a file, type in a file name or use the list view to navigate the list; when you’re on the list, hit the enter button to select something and return focus to the text box. Another tweak… on the Menu you’ll find a “Make Current Home” menu item: this will “check” the thing, to turn on the feature. When you open or save a draft while this is checked, which ever directory you have open will become your new “default” location. At some point I might just move that to the Options dialog. The only time I see people using this is if they want their drafts to go to their storage card as a default… there were a couple of other ways to offer that flexibility but it was unstable on the Emulation so I didn’t like it.

Also, MessageBox calls are weird on the Smartphone because you can only have two buttons instead of having three… and sometimes you simply need three. I was finding that you either had to save a changed document or either lose the changes or force you to save them. Now it will say “Save Yes or No?” – to cancel the operation you have to say Yes and then Cancel on the save dialog. Ugly, but my hands are tied.

Keyboards and Storage Cards supported? Should be. Don’t know for sure… so you tell me!

How can you have a Beta 1 at version 3.2.1? Yeah, well, that’s because the other versions are 3.2.1 – the files are stamped as 1.0.0.0.

What networks are supported? WiFi, ActiveSync pass through and LAN are a given because I’ve used them all! When you start looking at things like GPRS, 1xRTT, CDMA, GSM, EDGE, and the like, there could be problems or limitations at the carrier level. If a carrier decides to block images from being uploaded, there’s nothing I can do about that. So it’s hard to say. The .NET level proxy support is still there but I haven’t done much to test that: another leap of faith, since it worked on the Pocket PC version. Oh, and since there’s no tabs in this environment, the Options dialog has changed: use the Menu to switch pages.

More changes: the “Insert Contact” is more standard but also works differently. So has the browsing dialog for the Upload Media form. The Contact change was done out of necessity: the old POOM DLL didn’t work and this new dialog came with WM5. Same thing happened with the dialog for Upload Media. What’s really neat about the change to the media dialog is that “Camera” is an option while browsing. I snapped a picture on the SDA and it sent it over the air but then the UI got a little weird… since it’s in the camera layer I can’t help that, but a) sending a normal photo works fine and b) the camera-taken photo did get to the server… was odd but it still works. Either way Phone SharpMT then inserted the IMG link into the draft itself. One-two punch.

So this is a beta. I expect bugs. I expect problems. Please let me know if there are problems or else they won’t get fixed! Some I’ll be able to help with; some I won’t be able to workaround. The biggest problem I see here are the Open/Save dialogs… I’m not still not really thrilled with them but I don’t know what else to do about it. It’s a 19K DLL… I only saw one DLL out there that I would even consider: not only was it $99 but it looked huge because there was more than just a dialog.

Enjoy it! And please let me know how it goes!

Download Phone SharpMT 3.2.1: ZIP | CAB

Download .NET Compact Framework version 2.0 SP1: PC Install (required for Phone SharpMT 3.2.1)

Read: Phone/Pocket SharpMT 3.2.1 FAQ

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