PenRight! for Windows 95
Software upgrades appear fairly regularly in the software
development tools marketplace. Some upgrades do nothing more than offer the vendor a way
to ask for more money with marginal benefit. Fortunately, some product upgrades are so
significant, they become the defining development platform for their marketplace. So it is
with PenRight! for Windows 2.0.
What continues to distinguish PenRight! is its focus on creating
powerful tools that address the unique requirements of the mobile and pen marketplace. The
latest release shows maturity in all areas of the visual development environment. The new
Windows version runs faster, allows for C++ and C based development, and includes
extensions for platform-specific handheld functionality. PenRight! for Windows also
provides a high degree of task automation with hardware and software library wizards, and
the user interface has been subtly refined to enhance developer productivity. As in
previous versions of PenRight!, the signature handwriting recognition engine is
incorporated into the environment.
Compared to older versions of PenRight!, there are many improvements. In addition to the ability of using the popular C++ programming language for development, PenRight!?s new version creates applications that run under Windows 3.1, Windows 95, DOS, and DOS protected mode from a single application design. This cross platform capability allows developers to target platforms such as low cost PDAs, handhelds, and tablets, as well as laptops and desktop computers without having to code for each environment.
The new Form Designer and Toolbox is where you can graphically
create forms, much like in Visual Basic. In addition to added functionality in the form
designer? like snap-to grid, multi-select, and color BMPs?the standard PenRight! controls
now support the Windows look and feel by simply changing selections in the property
window. For Windows development, PenRight! now supports VBX controls, which make available
hundreds of third party controls to PenRight! applications. This support should translate
into providing ActiveX, COM, and DCOM controls in future versions. PenRight! now also
allows users to create custom controls that work both in DOS and Windows based
There are a number of new ease-of-use features including short-cut
menus that appear when the mouse is right clicked on most objects. These short-cuts lead
to code editing and properties management windows where appropriate. In the properties
window you change basic parameter values in an object, before the code generation phase,
and without having to work through a sequence of dialogs.
Another nice touch is the Function Palette, which gives easy access
to the syntax of over 350 API function calls. Selecting a function automatically inserts
the code into the current code editor window and directly into the application design.
Extra attention has been paid to taking advantage of the look and
feel of different target platforms from a single source code base. A consistent
programming interface provides the programmer with a single set of libraries for all
platforms. I was especially pleased by the subtlety and elegance of the enhancements to
this area of the product.
Developers can also create their own project types by saving the
project under a new name. These saved categories are useful as templates when writing new
applications. This allows the creation of new applications with common settings, such as
screen sizes, source code, and custom libraries to be preset in subsequent application
Windows developers can take advantage of PenRight!?s open
architecture by integrating DLLs and VB resources into their PenRight! for Windows
projects. As with past PenRight upgrades, applications created within PenRight! Pro 3.x
and PenRight! for Windows 1.X can be automatically imported into the new version.
PenRight!?s Mobile Wizards offer a series of dialogs that query the
developer about basic options and then automate the generation of code in a way that is
tightly integrated into the development tool. The hardware Wizards work in concert with
the SDK from the targeted hardware manufacturer. For instance, PenRight!?s Symbol Scanner
Wizard allows for the creation of code to drive Symbol?s PPT-4600 scanner library from a
DOS or Windows PenRight! application. Through the use of the Wizard, the developer is
spared two steps in the development process: First, learning the Symbol Scanner library;
and second, learning to integrate the library into a PenRight! application. This version
of PenRight! for Windows ships with Mobile Wizards for Norand, Symbol, and Telxon power
management and scanners; ODBC and Codebase Wizards for database development; and
SoundBlaster, and SoundWave Wizards for multimedia support. PenRight?s development team
has also announced it will soon release a specification document for developers to create
their own PenRight! compliant Wizards.
The new ODBC Wizard allows developers to map data between columns of
a SQL database and PenRight! forms. For direct access to corporate data repositories,
nothing beats direct access to ODBC compliant database servers. This tool automates the
use of ODBC based data store in PenRight! applications, but it does not trivialize the
task so as to hide the SQL queries or data store from the developer. The generated code
from this Wizard is expected to be easy to be read and modified by the developer. This
means that writing systems for hand held units can mature from batch data collection and
upload to full blown client server technology based systems.
- Bob Besaha
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