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Developing Mobile Applications Using the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit

It's easy to get started building cross-platform mobile applications using the Mobile Internet Toolkit. This tutorial will take you step by step through a simple application that you can deploy today on ASP.NET.


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ne of the ever-present challenges facing mobile application developers is maintaining the look and feel of applications across different devices. There is an untold number of mobile devices such as PDAs and cell phones on the market today and each device has different behaviors and a different graphical user interface. Historically, developers have had to maintain multiple versions of an application—one for each device it is intended to run on. But due to the large number of devices that is no longer a viable option for developers today.

The Mobile Internet Toolkit (MMIT) from Microsoft is an extension to the .NET Framework and ASP.NET that allows developers to write mobile Web applications that target multiple devices such as cell phones and PDAs. The MMIT frees the developer to concentrate on the application logic and leave the UI rendering to the runtime.

In this article, you'll learn how to develop a mobile application using MMIT and how to test your application using emulators.



Installing MMIT
To install MMIT, you need to have the Microsoft .NET Framework version 1.0. Because MMIT is an extension of ASP.NET you must also have IIS running. Download and install MMIT. You can verify a successful installation by creating a new project in Visual Studio .NET (see Figure 1).

Author's Note: At press time, the MMIT had been renamed to ASP.NET Mobile Controls. ASP.NET Mobile Controls requires .NET version 1.1, which is currently in final beta. For more information about ASP.NET Mobile Controls, visit http://msdn.microsoft.com/downloads/default.asp?url=/downloads/sample.asp?url=/MSDN-FILES/027/002/061/msdncompositedoc.xml.


Figure 1. Creating a Mobile Web Application Using Visual Studio .NET: When MMIT is installed the icon to create new mobile projects will show up in the start pane of VS.NET.
 
Figure 2. Designing Your Mobile Application: Designing apps in MMIT will be very familiar to ASP.NET developers.

As you can see in Figure 2, the design pane by default contains one form. In ASP.NET, you can have one and only one form in a page. In MMIT, you can have multiple forms in a page. Also notice that the toolbox contains a subset of the controls that you can find in an ASP.NET application (only a partial list is shown in Figure 2). Thus programming MMIT is very similar to programming ASP.NET.

Comparing MMIT to .NET Compact Framework
There are two main types of mobile application: Web-based and local. The first type runs on the server, typically the Web server, and is accessed by mobile devices through the Internet. This is where MMIT comes in. The second type is standalone applications running on the devices itself, with or without Internet access. For this type of application, Microsoft provides a scaled-down version of the .NET Framework—the .NET Compact Framework (.NET CF). The .NET CF is currently in beta and will appear in the next version of .NET (Everett) as the Smart Device Extension.



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