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Shane O'Sullivan's technical blog… really ties the room together

Posts Tagged ‘Palm Pre’

New release of Flickr Addict for the Palm Pre

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on January 21, 2010

Version 0.2 of both Flickr Addict and Flickr Addict Lite have been released on the Palm App Catalog, just three hours or so after submission, so kudos to Palm!  This release is an incremental improvement mostly, but it contains a number of features that a lot of people asked for:

  • Manual sizing of wallpapers.  You can now pinch to zoom the image in order to manually select just a portion of the photo to use as a wallpaper.
  • Better randomization of images.
  • More options on how often images are changed.   Some people felt that 5 minutes was too short, and one hour too long, so you can now change the wallpaper every 5, 15,  and 30 minutes, and every 1, 6 or 24 hours.
  • More information on the currently displayed image.  You’ll see a new button at the bottom of the screen when viewing a full screen photo.  Clicking it shows the title of the photo and the person who took it.

It also includes some bug fixes, and improvements to downloads to make them go faster.

The big news for  users of the free Flickr Addict Lite app is that this release gives you two days use of the full app features, before returning to Lite mode, so you get to see what all the fuss is about 😉

See the demo of the latest version at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRUckwtvF6U

Posted in Technical | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Irish Rain for the Palm Pre

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on November 14, 2009

I’ve just released a useful little free application for the Palm Pre called Irish Rain.  It’s a weather application that shows the satellite footage for the last three hours of rainfall over Ireland.  Rather than having to rely on vague and often wrong weather forecasts, you can look at where the rain has been for the last three hours, with the map being animated so you can see the direction it is heading.

Irish Rain also shows the weather forecast for the today and tomorrow, for the main cities of Ireland.

For installation instructions, see http://chofter.com/apps/?n=irishrain

Update: I’ve now also submitted it as a free app to the Palm App Catalog.

Posted in Irish Rain, mobile, Palm, Technical, WebOS | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

CelText for the Palm Pre – Send texts for free

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on October 19, 2009

I’ve just released the first version of CelText, an application for the Palm Pre smartphone.  CelText enables users in Ireland to send text messages for free, using the free web texts available from their mobile provider, either O2, Meteor or Vodafone.

This version of CelText is completely free, and can be installed using the PreCentrals Homebrew installation process, described here – http://www.precentral.net/how-to-install-homebrew-apps .

You can get CelText from http://www.precentral.net/homebrew-apps/celtext .  I’ve just submitted it, so it may not be available for a day or so after this post (Oct 19th 2009).

If you have any issues with it, there is a discussion forum at http://forums.precentral.net/showthread.php?p=1985016 where you can let me know about any bugs that may be present.

For anyone interested in the technical aspects of how CelText is written, for the most part it uses Palms development tools, but I use the Dojo Ajax Toolkit for a number of tasks, including animations and Ajax calls.

Posted in Dojo, mobile | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Palm Pre from iPhone3g: first impressions

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on October 17, 2009

My iPhone 3G died a few weeks ago after rudely jumping out of my pocket and onto some gravel, so I took the opportunity to upgrade to the new Palm Pre smartphone.  My main reasons were mainly that it looks very cool, and writing applications for it is really, really easy if you know HTML and JavaScript.palmpre

I’ve now had it one whole day, so here are my initial impressions.

Pros

  1. Obvious I know, but the multitasking is fantastic.  I got used to using multiple applications at the same time, that I don’t know how I ever did without it on the iPhone.  For example, playing a radio app and browsing the web. On the iPhone, the music stops.  On the Pre, it doesn’t.
  2. Moving from application to application is much faster for me.  This includes loading new applications, and switching to new ones.  One of the reasons for this is the much publicised card metaphor WebOS uses, but just as useful is the task bar at the bottom that can be launched using the gesture area at the bottom.  Some reviewers have claimed that it’s just eye candy, since you can access the same controls by exiting out of an application into the “card view”.  However, using the gesture area, you don’t even have to exit an application to launch another.  It’ s just very quick and simple.
  3. Integration with Gmail and Facebook contacts is simple to set up and well implemented.
  4. The camera is better than the iPhone, and has a flash.  This doesn’t mean it’s actually any good.  Just better than the iPhone 3G.
  5. Bluetooth works better than the iPhone.  My Bluetooth headset, a Sony DR-BT140Q, worked with the iPhone, but couldn’t change the music track that was playing.  With the Pre, all the Bluetooth headseats functions work as they should.
  6. The keyboard is better than the iPhone onscreen keyboard.  While the keys are small and fiddly, I’m already typing more quickly that I could on the iPhone after a year of usage.
  7. Turning on and off the Wireless and Bluetooth is much easier and quicker in the Pre.
  8. The Pre can be used as a simple USB storage device.  The iPhone cannot.
  9. The biggest Pro for me by far is that applications are SOOOOOOOO easy to write.  I’ve already written a couple, and will write more.  Unlike with the iPhone, I don’t need to buy a Mac just to write an application for a bloody Phone.  Tying a phone to a single computer type and operating system for development is a sign of real arrogance on the part of Apple.  “They’re going to want to write apps so bad for our phone we can force them to fork out on a new computer“.  Palm don’t suffer from the same hubris, perhaps because they are playing catch up, but I don’t care.  You can write WebOS applications on Windows, Mac and Linux (yes, Linux!), using just HTML, JavaScript and a little CSS.  WebOS rocks. Update: My first application is now available for free, see http://wp.me/p15eg-5i

Cons

  1. The build quality of the Pre is not as good as the iPhone. As many reviewers have pointed it, it feels a bit plastic (ok a lot plastic).  The sliding mechanism could be better. It can be a bit awkward to slide open the phone when an application is live on the screen using just one hand, and the mechanism doesn’t give a good tactile feel when it slots into place.
  2. The keys are a bit awkward to use.  While I still prefer the keyboard to the iPhone, there is plenty of room for improvement.
  3. Getting music onto the phone was a bit of a nightmare.   It doesn’t currently work with iTunes, as I presume Apple have, in their postition of Microsoft V2, have blocked Palm from cheekily pretending to be an iPhone.  The unforgivable part of this is that Palm seem to have given no other option that enables you to put music on your phone! After some Choftering, I found a handly program called DoubleTwist, which can be used to manage the music on the Pre.  However, the simple fact that I need to use this is a massive fail for Palm.  There’s no excuse for them saying “You need another companys software to use our phone, and we’re not giving you even a less functional application to do the same”.
  4. The swipe motion to go “back” in an application is awkward with one hand.  You almost have to concentrate on NOT dropping the phone when doing it.  This is definitely a two-handed device.
  5. No native Facebook application.  Apparently it’s on the way, but that’s no good to me right now.  Get it sorted Palm! Facebook are a partner of Palm, what’s the hold up?
  6. The process for selecting text is very awkward, and I definitely prefer the iPhone’s method of selecting, copying and pasting text.
  7. When I got my iPhone, my girlfriends first impression was “Wow, it’s so cool!”.  Her first impression of the Pre, after 10 seconds, was disappointment.  No matter how much I tried to say “Look at the cool operating system, better camera etc”, you don’t get a second first impression.  I can definitely see a number of people not buying it if they simply pick it up in a shop without appreciating what’s inside.  Perhaps it’s the plastic feel, the screen that is slightly smaller than the iPhone (people don’t really care if it’s the same resolution), I don’t know.  But it’s undeniable.

Conclusion

I’m really happy with the Pre.  While the build quality could be much better, it’s all about the operating system for me.  I can’t wait to get more and more applications written for it.

Digg It

Posted in Technical | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Getting started with developing on the Palm Pre

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on August 16, 2009

This post explains how to get up and running with Palm Pre development, including getting the tools, setting up the emulator, as well as getting debugging and the inspector working.

In the last few days I’ve started playing around with the development tools for the extremely cool new phone, the Palm Pre.  The coolest thing, from a developers perspective, is that all application development is done using HTML, JavaScript and CSS.  That means if you can write a website, you can write an application for the Palm Pre (though not necessarily a good one).

However, while Palm does provide a pretty good site, http://developer.palm.com, to help you get started, it’s missing some crucial information, which is scattered all over the web (trying to find out how to do logging is a nightmare).  So, this post will explain some of the steps you need to take to get up and running.  As I prefer to use Palm’s Eclipse based development tools, this post assumes that you are using it also, and not go into the command line stuff.

1. Getting the Tools

Follow Palm’s instructions here – http://developer.palm.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1597 , to install their tools.

I strongly encourage you to also get the Eclipse development environment, which while it is a large download, is very useful for packaging and  launching your application with a single click.  Get Eclipse by following the instructions here – http://developer.palm.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1639 .

The Eclipse page also includes the required steps for creating a new WebOS application, adding scenes (a scene can be though of as a single web page, and you application will be made up of one or more of them) etc.

2. Create a New Scene

After following the instructions on the Eclipse page to create a new application, create a new scene clicking “File-New-Mojo Scene”, and give it the name “main”.  You should see a number of files created:

  • app/assistants/main-assistant.js – This is the JavaScript code that will be executed when your scene, or page, is rendered
  • app/views/main/main-scene.html – This is the HTML that defines the displayed HTML for the scene.
  • sources.json has also been modified to add information about your scene.

As we want the “main” scene to be displayed when the application starts, open the /app/assistants/stage-assistant.js file, and in the setup method you see there, add the following line:

this.controller.pushScene(‘main’);

That line loads your “main” scene.

3. Starting the Emulator

Palm provides a very cool phone emulator that runs on VirtualBox, which you installed earlier.  Start it by (in Windows) clicking Start > All Programs > Palm > SDK > Palm Emulator.

One thing I’ve noticed is that if you start Eclipse before starting the emulator, it throws errors and can have problems connection. So, start the emulator before Eclipse.

Sometimes you may also see an error when starting the Emulator stating that the Novacom service must be running.  To make sure it is, click Start > Settings > Control Panel > Administration Tools > Services.  Find the Palm Novacom service in the list, right click and choose start.

4. Launching the Application in Debug Mode

As you’ll pretty much always want to be viewing debug output from your application, start it in debug mode.  To do this:

  • Click Run > Debug Configurations
  • Right-Click “Mojo Application” and select “New”
  • Choose your project in the “Project” drop down box.
  • Choose the target to be “Palm Emulator”, or if you’re lucky enough to have a Palm Pre, choose Palm Device
  • Make sure to check both the Inspectable and Mojo debugging checkboxes, and click Debug.

Looking at the emulator, your application should appear.

5. Logging

Debugging with WebOS is currently a pretty nasty affair, that requires a lot of command line wizardry, that I think only a tiny percentage of people will even attempt to use (if you’ve figured it out, well done!).

However, logging is relatively simple to set up, and that’s what I use.

As with developing web applications on Firefox, you can use the Firebug function console.log to print out messages, e.g.

console.log(“the value of the input is ” + event.target.value);

So, feel free to intersperse your code with whatever logging you like.

To view the logs, you need to log into the emulator/phone remotely using Putty, a SSH client.  Luckily this is included with the Palm SDK you installed earlier.

  • Go to the bin folder in the SDK, probably in c:\program files\Palm\SDK\bin, and open putty.exe
  • In Host Name, type localhost
  • In Port, type 5522
  • Save these settings for reuse later by typing in PalmEmulator into the Saved Settings box and clicking Save.
  • Click Open.
  • When Putty prompts you for a login name, type root
  • When prompted for the password, just hit Enter, as the password is blank.
  • Now start the logging application by typing log com.mydomain.myapp. If you’re unsure of what the correct string is, open the appinfo.json file at the root of your project in Eclipse, and the right string is specified as the id in that file.

Now, when you run your application, you’ll see your console.log calls being shown there.  It’s a bit verbose, and prepends a lot before your message, but at least it’s readable.

6. Using the Inspector

Palm includes the a DOM inspector with the SDK. Before running it, and after installing your application on the emulator using Eclipse, open a command window in the SDK’s bin folder, and type

palm-launch -d tcp -i com.mydomain.myapp

once again using the correct string for your application instead of com.mydomain.myapp

Now launch the inspector by clicking Start > Programs > Palm > SDK > Palm Inspector.  The Inspector window should now launch, and display the HTML of your application.

7. Write Something Cool

I’ll leave this as an exercise to you, the good reader.  However, you should now have the ability to log messages and inspect the content of your page, so you’re almost on par with the tools available for web development (a good debugger would be nicer though).

I might write some more posts in the future covering anything cool I found or wrote for the Pre.  I’m starting to use a specialized build of the Dojo Ajax toolkit to fill in some of the blanks that Palm’s Mojo toolkit leaves out, and that’ll probably require another post.

Have fun!

Posted in Ajax, Dojo, Javascript, open source, Technical | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
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