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Introduction to the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit


Microsoft spoke for the first time of the .NET architecture at the Professional Developers' Conference in Orlando in July 2000. Its various features and components were explained to the large audience by a number of speakers. In this article Jean-Baptiste is going to introduce us to the MMIT and also show us how we can use it to develop a mobile web application for several types of devices.

Author Info:
By: Jean-Baptiste Minchelli
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May 06, 2002
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · Introduction to the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit
  2. · Architecture
  3. · Your first application
  4. · Conclusion

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Introduction to the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit - Architecture
(Page 2 of 4 )

My goal in this article is to introduce the Wireless capabilities of the .NET framework, but it remains interesting to briefly remind you of the general architecture of .NET:
  • It is a set of common services, which can be used from a number of object languages.
  • These services are executed in the form of intermediate code that is independent of the underlying architecture.
  • They operate in a runtime (Common Language Runtime or CLR) that manages resources and monitors application execution.
The primary goal of .NET is to provide developers with the means to create interoperable applications using "Web Services" from any sort of terminal, be it a PC, PDA, mobile phone, and so forth.

The MMIT extends the functionality of the .NET framework. It is therefore possible to build a Wireless application using any of the framework services (Web Services, ADO .NET...):



A device accessing the wireless application will launch a three stage process on the Web Server:
  • Device capability detection.
  • Building of the page.
  • Response generation.
Device capability detection collects information such as browser type, supported mark-up language, etc. This is done with the machine.config file that contains all the device information for any given the user agent.

Next, the aspx file is compiled and stored in the cache to improve performance. It is important to note that the page will be compiled just one time and it's the same for any type of device. The Web Server uses the page in the cache to create a new instance of the page and processes it.

The response generation is associated to the device type. In the case of a PDA, HTML will be sent to the client. In the case of a WAP phone, WML will be generated.

Starting with the toolkit
Before being able to deploy your first mobile application, you need to install:
  • The Microsoft .NET Framework.
  • The Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit.
With these SDK's, you will be able to build your first .NET Wireless application using Mobile controls and Mobile forms.

Mobile forms are based on ASP .NET Webs forms. In fact, those Web forms are Server Controls that allow developers to quickly build a user interface as a drop-down list, a grid with results, or a calendar and so on.

Mobile forms have been built to send back the right language type and application capabilities (color, JavaScript capabilities, etc) to the client. A WAP phone will receive WML; a PDA will receive HTML and so on.

You will just need to create a single Wireless application for all supported device by the MMIT.

Installing the environment
ASP .NET is available for Windows 2000/XP (Professional, Server or better). I personally installed it on a Windows 2000 Professional Service Pack 2 box.

Other prerequisites are:
  • MDAC 2.6 (or greater).
  • Internet Information Services.
Firstly, you need to install the .NET framework. You can install just the redistributable or the complete SDK (featuring documentations, samples, compilers, etc). Please note you don't have to install the framework if you already have Visual Studio .NET installed. If you have a previous version of the framework installed, you must remove it before installing a new version. Finally, you have to install the MMIT.

This installation creates a virtual folder containing a tutorial under the default web site. You can access it by visiting http://localhost/MobileQuickStart/ on your web server. This tutorial is very clear and it can be useful for learning how to use your first Mobile control; but we will speak more in detail about that in a future article.
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