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November 7, 2001

The Future for Palm Programmers Looks Bright, Say Authors of New Palm Os Programming Book From O'Reilly

Sebastopol, CA--"The future for Palm programmers is going to be a lot of fun," says Julie McKeehan, coauthor with Neil Rhodes of the just-released second edition of Palm OS Programming: The Developer's Guide (O'Reilly, US $39.95). "It's going to be full of companies clamoring for applications and programmers who can develop for this platform. I like the direction Palm is going with its OS, and I think we can rely on Palm to continue giving developers an OS worthy of their attention." With more than 16 million PDAs running the Palm OS today, Palm has defined the market for handhelds. Devices from Handspring, Sony, Symbol, HandEra, Kyocera, and Samsung now use Palm OS, and the number of registered Palm developers exceeds 130,000.

From the beginning, Palm has had several advantages that have made it an appealing platform for which to write software. As Rhodes and McKeehan explain, Palm developers have enjoyed the benefits of plentiful documentation, a free software development kit, support in the form of email, conferences, knowledge bases, etc. as well as a vibrant developer community. And all of these developers--whether they create mainstream software, vertical applications, or cool device add-ons--are an essential part of the continuing success story of the Palm OS.

"The slowdown in the computer industry doesn't seem to have affected Palm programming," says Rhodes. "Corporations want to save money, especially in a recession. In many cases, they can do so by moving from laptops to Palm devices, or by moving from paper-based solutions to Palm devices. Most Palm programmers are very busy right now."

Written for intermediate to experienced C programmers, Palm OS Programming: The Developer's Guide, Second Edition covers everything developers need to know to write a Palm OS application, from user interface design, to coding a handheld application, to writing an associated desktop conduit. All the major development environments are discussed, including commercial products such as Metrowerks CodeWarrior, Java-based environments such as Sun KVM and IBM VisualAge Micro Edition, and the Free Software Foundation's PRC-Tools or GCC. The focus, however, is C programming with CodeWarrior and PRC-Tools.

"This book is not a replacement for the documentation, nor does it teach C programming," says McKeehan. "Our book tries to help a programmer really understand the Palm OS, including 4.0; it focuses on parts of the Palm OS that are the most difficult, crucial, or require special attention, like memory use. We have also tried to add utility by providing special bits of code for things that we have found the most troublesome in our own Palm programming. While we cover everything necessary to write a Palm application from start to finish, we focus on the hard and important stuff."

"We try not to just rehash the documentation, but instead provide useful information not found elsewhere: undocumented limitations of APIs, etc," Rhodes adds. "In addition, we try to provide utility routines to make a reader's life easier. We spend a lot of time on conduits, because we think they are very important."

While the second edition of Palm OS Programming contains most of the elements that made the first edition a bestseller, it also includes major changes, such as a tutorial that walks a C programmer through the creation of a Palm application from start to finish, a new chapter on memory, greatly expanded discussions of forms and form objects, and update conduit chapters that reflect the latest Conduit Development Kit. "Palm OS Programming: The Developer's Guide" promises to set the standard for a new generation of Palm developers, and remains the book used by Palm for its own developer training class.

What the critics said about the first edition:

"A title anyone new to the Palm programming environment will want to have close by. Working real world code will take you up the learning curve fast."
--Steve Patient, amazon.co.uk, March 2000

"Written in O'Reilly's admirably-authoritative, yet easy-to-read, house style, without irrelevant digressions."
--Paul Lynch, PC Pro, May 2000

"Additional developer lore and tools are between the covers of Palm Programming: The Developers Guide by Neil Rhodes and Julie McKeehan. Developers will probably buy the print version for the included CD which has source code files and tools, including Linux resources and third-party product demos."
--Peter Coffee, PC Week, January 3, 2000

"An excellent tutorial on typical PalmPilot application development, great for both serious and hobbyist developers. Rating 9/10."
--Jonathan Blocks, slashdot.com, January 4, 1998

Online Resources:

Palm OS Programming: The Developer's Guide
By Neil Rhodes & Julie McKeehan
Second Edition, October 2001
ISBN 1-56592-856-3, 681 pages, $39.95 (US)
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938

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