In the world of ASP.NET there’s a whole other breed of application that few developers ever have the need to work with: Mobile Web Applications. These are applications that are designed to run on mobile devices which can be anything from a pocket PC, to a BlackBerry, to a cell phone.
This realm of development is a very confusing one, due to the volume of disparate devices and their methods of implementation and visual capabilities. Often developers are left to focus on one particular style of device in order to bring out the best capabilities instead of taking a more generic one-size-fits-all implementation.
Because mobile development is so radically different in presentation the .NET framework has a dedicated set of assemblies for it residing in the System.Web.Mobile namespace. In this namespace is a dedicated set of interface components designed specifically to run on mobile devices, most of which duplicate the common components in regular web forms development such as labels, buttons, textboxes and so forth.
Although these components are fundamentally similar some of the principles behind mobile development are hidden and convoluted and developers are left spending many hours of trial and error getting certain basic features to work.
The goal of this two part tutorial is to review some of the not so obvious aspects of mobile development that often leave developers scratching theirs when finding solutions. We’ll implement a basic demonstration application that will take some of the common features performed in regular web development and see how they are implemented in a mobile development environment.
In part one we’ll setup a new mobile web application and connect it to a sample database so we have some data to work with and we’ll also review the DataGrid’s cousin in mobile development: The object list control. We’ll review some theory behind this control and some of its more confusing implementation designs and how best to use it and how not to use it.
In part two we’ll continue building on our demonstration application and implement a mobile form which uses the object list control and sub forms, and see how DataGrid style pages are developed in a mobile environment.
Note: Visual Studio .NET running ASP.NET 1.1 is required for this tutorial. We’ll also use the Northwind sample database which comes with SQL server as our test data source, or you may use any database of your choice for the purpose of demonstration