Welcome!

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson, Daniel Kaar

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

ColdFusion in the Palms of your Hands

ColdFusion in the Palms of your Hands

I am completely hooked on my new wireless Palm! The Palm Pilot VII has changed the way I access information — I can find it anywhere and any time I need it. With the newest Palm I can check account balances in real time on DLJDirect, buy a book from Amazon.com and — using the popular Starbucks Finder application — find the nearest Starbucks. With so many useful wireless applications available, you might be wondering why you can't create your own with ColdFusion. Well, you can! And after reading this article, you'll be well on the way to writing your own wireless applications for the Palm Pilot VII.

Wireless Applications Background

I'm not the only one who's in love with the idea of wireless access to the Web. In a recent study it was reported that the market for wireless handheld devices could reach 500 million by 2003, which will create a huge demand for Web applications that are "unplugged" and optimized for wireless devices.

For developing wireless applications, two similar but competing protocols for wireless Web access have emerged. The first is the Palm Wireless Web Clipping Protocol — a proprietary but popular solution developed by 3COM. The second is the Wireless Application Protocol. WAP is a more open protocol developed by companies like Unwired Planet, Motorola, Nokia and Ericsson to provide wireless Web access to cellular phones. For this article I'll focus on writing wireless Web applications in ColdFusion for the Palm Pilot Web clipping protocol, and in a future article I'll discuss how to write ColdFusion applications for WAP. Even though these two protocols are different in their implementations, developing applications for each is quite similar.

The palm.net Service

The Palm Pilot VII is a wireless device that contains its own built-in antennae for wireless access to the Web. Once you bring your Palm home, it's easy to sign on and start surfing wirelessly on the Web — simply flip up your Palm's antennae and access the Activate Application to sign on. All it takes is a credit card and about 15 minutes to get started.

3COM charges an online access fee to access the palm.net service. This is a monthly service fee similar to what you'd pay an ISP for Internet access. The palm.net service is a bit pricey compared to your basic ISP costs, and also comes with limits on the number of bytes that can be accessed on a monthly basis. 3COM has basic, extended and volume plans that range from $10 per month to $40 per month, with each providing a greater number of KB per month. I purchased the volume plan and, in the first several weeks with fairly active use, I haven't used up even half of my quota.

3COM provides a Web site, www.palm.net, with a lot of great information about the service and a wide array of Web clipping applications that you can download. Available applications include Financial, News, Reference, Travel, Entertainment, Communication, Shopping and Enterprise applications. It also includes a Web browsing function that allows you to access any URL, many stock quote and online trading systems, an application to check airline flight times, and various shopping apps, including Amazon.

Web Clipping Architecture

At the heart of the palm.net service is 3COM's Web clipping proxy server. This server is responsible for converting the standard Internet protocols and content from normal HTML Web pages into a form that's optimized for low-bandwidth wireless transmission and for display on a small device. Figure 1 shows how the proxy server takes the HTTP, SSL and TCP standard protocols and compresses them for wireless access via the Palm Pilot VII.

ColdFusion applications work in this environment just like any other Web page. URL requests are made from the Palm. They go through the wireless network and the proxy to the ultimate destination of the Web server. It doesn't matter that the requested page is an HTML, a CFM or an ASP. As long as the actual content returned from the server is in HTML format that can be processed, compressed and sent through the wireless network, it should work just fine.

Does this mean you can just take your existing ColdFusion apps and make them accessible to the wireless network and they'll work? Well, not quite. As I'll explain in the following section, there are many considerations you have to keep in mind when developing unplugged (wireless) ColdFusion Applications.

The following steps demonstrate the flow of a Web clipping application when launched:

    1. If the linked page or graphic is installed on the Palm VII organizer, the page or graphic is displayed without downloading anything remotely.
    2. In other cases the Palm VII organizer compresses the query into a small file in Palm query format and sends this packet over the air to a local base station.
    3. The local base station relays the compressed packet to the Web clipping proxy servers on the palm.net service.
    4. The Web clipping proxy server translates the query packet into a standard HTTP packet and then sends the decompressed query to the appropriate Internet address. All communication between the Web clipping proxy server and the Internet server is via the standard Internet protocols of TCP, HTTP and SSL.
    5. The HTTP server returns an HTML clipping to the Web clipping proxy server.
    6. The Web clipping proxy server compresses the HTML clipping into a Palm proxy format file and sends it back to the local base station.
    7. The local base station relays the clipping to the Palm VII organizer, where the Web clipping application renders the page for viewing. Communication between the Palm VII organizer and the Web clipping proxy server is via the User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
The Basics of a Palm Web Clipping App

The basic mechanics of authoring Web clipping applications are similar to the mechanics of authoring Web pages in general. However, because of the constraints of authoring for a handheld organizer connected to the Internet via a relatively expensive radio link, you'll need to rethink your philosophy of design and implementation. The world looks much different when you're holding a small, low-power computer like the Palm VII organizer with its tiny screen, battery-powered operation and relatively slow and expensive wireless connection to the Internet.

Palm applications are called PQAs (Palm query applications). A Web clipping application is a PQA that is developed to take advantage of the wireless capability of the Palm VII.

The basic steps involved in writing a PQA application include the following:

  • Produce HTML pages and graphics to serve as the base for the PQA.
  • Convert the HTML pages and graphics using a tool called the Query Application Builder to produce the PQA file (to be reviewed later).
  • Test the PQA, using either the Palm VII organizer itself or a Palm Emulator, which allows you to run the PQA apps on your workstation.
  • Distribute the compiled file. Users install it with HotSync software on their Palm VII organizers.

    When developing Web clipping applications, follow the same rules as above. What makes a PQA a Web clipping application is that it has links to pages that are not stored on the Palm but are accessed remotely over the Web. These remote links are coded just like any other Web application link.

    Writing a Simple Web Clipping App

    The following example shows how you can create the most basic Web clipping application for the Palm Pilot. It's very simple. You can start out with the code in a single HTML file that does nothing more than display "Hello World." The entire HTML source code that's used to build the application is in Listing 1.

    The first step in turning the HTML file into a Web clipping app is to create a PQA file through 3COM's Query Application Builder, which can be found at www.palm.com/devzone. (Note that the domain for this is palm.com, not palm.net.)

    The Query Application Builder is a simple application that converts your HTML and image files into a single PQA file. Just select the File and Open Index menu to select your HTML file.

    Once an HTML file is selected, it's displayed in the Query Application Builder file window. If the HTML file referenced any local images, they'd be displayed here, as well as included in the PQA file (see Figure 2).

    Once the HTML file has been selected, choose "Build PQA" from the File menu. Then the Build PQA Dialog Box specifies the name of the PQA that is being created (see Figure 3).

    Note: The icons for this application default to the diamonds with the remote signal displayed on the right in Figure 3. For this application the defaults are being used. In the next example, using ColdFusion, an Allaire image is used for the application icon.

    Now that you've created the "Hello World" Web clipping application, you can install it to your Palm VII handheld using the Palm desktop software. This is the same process you'd go through to install any PQA application onto your Palm. Just add applications to the desktop software running on your workstation and then load the application to your Palm by synchronizing Palm's HotSync utility.

    Once you add and synchronize the new PQA, you'll see the new application appear on your Palm. Now we have a new application icon on our Palm called "Hello World" (see Figure 4).

    Clicking on the new "Hello World" application icon will launch our simple application. Figure 5 shows our simple application running on the Palm. Remember that so far we've only accessed local data. Next we'll get into accessing data over the Web.

    Writing a ColdFusion Web Clipping App

    In order to write a ColdFusion application for the Palm, we have to involve more than just local pages. As in the previous example, we must add Web clipping pages remotely over the Web.

    The two main components in a Web clipping application are as follows:

    • Web clipping application (also known as the PQA): This is an application you build using HTML, which is installed by the end user onto a handheld organizer. A Web clipping application is like a mini-Web site that's stored locally, so access to it is instant and free. The index page of the Web clipping application usually contains either a form or a list of links, which are the gateways to the live data provided by your server.

      The part of the application that gets compiled into the PQA must be generic and should include only what's not likely to change. If anything changes in the code that's compiled into the PQA, the application has to be redistributed and reloaded onto the Palm Pilots of all your users.

    • Results pages (clippings): Pages are returned by your back-end server after receiving a request from your Web clipping application. It's the key part of the overall application, and where all the real work gets done. These pages can be written in HTML, ColdFusion, ASP or whatever. The pages can pull in remote database information and behave similarly to browser-based ColdFusion pages. Images can either be referenced remotely or locally if they were pulled into the PQA. Referring to local images is very useful in saving precious bandwidth, but it leaves less room later to change those images without redistributing the PQA.

    The Web clipping pages developed as part of the application can also be accessed through a browser in addition to being accessible through the Palm. Does this mean you can develop an application and deploy it to both the browser and Palm? Not really. Since the Palm only supports a subset of things that can be done on a browser, the UI needs to be specific to the Palm.

    One strategy in deploying applications to both the Palm and browser is to separate the user interface from the business and database logic as much as possible so that business logic pages can be included in both the Palm and browser versions of the application. In many ways you can just treat the Palm as a very, very limited browser. The limited nature of this handheld device is equally true with the WAP applications. Web Clipping HTML Specifics

    Web clipping applications are written in a subset of the HTML 3.2 specification. Many of the usual tags for things like tables, forms, checkboxes, radio buttons, select lists and font sizes are supported. However, Web clipping applications don't support more resource-intensive features such as JavaScript, nested tables, frames, cookies or Java.

    Web clipping applications are designed to be small and to give users the information they need with minimum effort and maximum speed. Likewise, results coming from your server to a handheld device are designed to be small and to the point. Remember, this is not Web browsing, but Web clipping. Web clipping applications should be written to provide users only with the information they need, without any extraneous items. Try limiting the size of your result pages to about 400 bytes.

    There are two meta tags you'll want to consider incorporating into your Web clipping applications:

  • PalmComputingPlatform: Identifies your page as a "Palm Friendly" page — i.e., one that's been designed to work well on a small screen and isn't wasteful of bandwidth. When you include this tag, images will be rendered and the entire text will be displayed on the device. Otherwise, images will be stripped out and only the first 1,024 bytes of your page will display. This meta tag should be used on all of your local and remote clipping pages.

    <meta name="PalmComputingPlatform" content="true">

  • LocalIcon: Stores graphics and HTML documents not otherwise referenced locally within your Web clipping application. It is to be used only in local pages and should be placed only in the root page of the Web clipping application.

    <meta name="LocalIcon" content="images/palm_image.gif">

    Two other meta tags are also useful.

  • HistoryListText: Specifies the user-visible string for each clipping displayed in the history pop-up menu on the Palm. This meta tag can be used on all of your Web clipping pages.

    <meta name="HistoryListText" content="true">

  • PalmLauncherRevision: Sets the version string for your Web clipping application. To be used on the main index (or root) page of your Web clipping application. This string can be viewed in the Info window of the Applications Launcher. The version in my example below is 1.0, but it can be whatever is meaningful for your application.

    <meta name="PalmLauncherRevision" content="1.0">

    Web clipping applications also support secure HTTPS connections to make credit card purchases and stock transactions possible. The Palm indicates a link is an over-the-air secure link by automatically displaying the top icon at right on all anchor tags, except where a user-defined image is used. All other over-the-air links have the bottom icon at right next to the link. To ensure consistency with other Palm applications, user-defined images should include either the secure icon or the nonsecure icon.

    In Web clipping applications there are three types of links that you'll be using. The first is a link from one local page to another on the Palm — a remote link to a remote link. The syntax for this link is the following:

    <a href="about.html">

    The second type of link is from a local page to a remote page. The syntax for this link is the following:

    <a href=http://www.allaire.com/about.html>

    The third type of link is from a remote page to a local page stored on the Palm. The syntax for this link is the following:

    <a href="file:coldfusion.pqa/about.html">

    Since the Palm screen is much smaller than a browser page, graphics should be used with care. GIF and JPEG images are both supported by the Web clipping system. However, the usable screen size is only 153 pixels wide by 144 pixels high and only gray-scale images are supported.

    The idea in developing Web clipping applications is to keep the images small and to reference them locally wherever possible.

    The LocalIcon meta tag is used to store graphics locally, using the following syntax:

    <meta name="LocalIcon" content="images/palm_image.gif">

    It can be referred to remotely in a clipping page using the following syntax:

    <td><IMG height=30 src="coldfusion.pqa/palm_image.gif" width=30></td>

    Sample ColdFusion Application

    The following application shows how a ColdFusion application interacts with a PQA. The application is a simple ColdFusion application that contains a form that accepts a keyword and then passes it to a result page that queries a database of contacts and returns the results.

    Figure 6 shows the ColdFusion sample application that was created using the Query Application Builder and loaded onto the Palm. It is called ColdFusion.

    Listing 2 shows the code associated with the HTML file used to build the PQA. This form loads a local image to be displayed on the page and contains a link to my ColdFusion page (the Web clipping).
    This sample page makes use of a table that contains some text and a local image reference. In addition, it contains the link that references the remote clipping page developed in ColdFusion. The page on the Palm looks like Figure 7.

    Listing 3 shows the source code of the simple ColdFusion page that is loaded via the Web onto the Palm.

    This page makes use of an input form with a submit button that sends the form variable to the ColdFusion result page to query and display the results. The resulting page is shown in Figure 8.

    Listing 4 shows the ColdFusion code that accepts the form variable from the input page and performs the query to return the results back.

    This page makes use of a ColdFusion query tag that selects the list of matching contacts and an output tag that displays the results to the Palm screen. You can see what the page looks like on the Palm in Figure 9.

    Summary

    Developing wireless Web applications gives you the ability to roll out applications to handheld devices. This process allows access to those applications for users at any time and in any place. The Palm platform provides a very nice vehicle for deploying wireless applications in ColdFusion. Acknowledgements

    Portions of this article were taken from texts and articles on developing Web clipping applications from the Palm development zone

  • More Stories By Paul Elisii

    Paul J. Elisii is the founder and CTO of eTech Solutions, Inc., a Philadelphia-based e-business development company and a BEA partner. He is active in developing and researching emerging technologies for eTech Solutions.

    Comments (0)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    @ThingsExpo Stories
    SYS-CON Events announced today that AgilePoint, the leading provider of Microsoft-centric Business Process Management software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 2nd International @ThingsExpo which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. AgilePoint is the leading provider of Microsoft-based Business Process Management (BPM) software products, has 1,300+ on-premise and cloud deployments in 25+ countries and provides the same advanced BPM feature set as J2EE vendors like IBM and Appian for the Microsoft .NET native environment. AgilePoint customer...
    The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
    One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, will describe an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people’s real needs and desires.
    The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
    Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
    Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
    We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
    SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices--computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
    The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
    As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
    The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
    Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
    Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
    From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.