by Daniel Pifko, Phillip B. Shoemaker, and Bill Witte
The Palm Development Tools Team
In 1888, the invention of the ballpoint pen revolutionized the world of writing. In 1995 the invention of the Pilot™ connected organizer revolutionized the world of computing. The concepts behind the Palm Computing® platform have a history longer than the device itself. Before the advent of the Palm Computing platform, Jeff Hawkins and others at a small start-up called Palm Computing were developing software for handheld devices, working with myriad hardware manufacturers to have them adopt the vision of those at Palm Computing. When Jeff and the others finally realized it would never happen, they opted to create the hardware themselves. Years later, out of this primordial ooze of creativity, the Pilot 1000 was born. Then came the Pilot 5000, the PalmPilot™ Personal, the PalmPilot™ Professional, and the Palm III™ connected organizers. Companies started calling upon Palm Computing to partner, and out of those relationships came upgrade cards, pager cards, the IBM WorkPad, the Symbol SPT 1500 with integrated bar code scanner, and the Qualcomm pdQ with integrated cellular phone. And the list continues to grow. Within eighteen months, four products shipped from Palm Computing, and over a million devices were sold. We knew we had a solid and compelling platform that would be popular with developers.
The fundamental idea behind our strategy was first to get a large installed base using the devices as personal organizers, and then to focus on signing up developers to broaden their usefulness. This was a very different approach than those of our predecessors. They believed you needed thousands of partners and a publicly accepted standard to attract a large body of users. A million-plus users later, we have over ten thousand add-on software and hardware developers, and more are signing up daily. They believe, as we do, that the Palm Computing platform represents a new, exciting, and commercially compelling opportunity for companies like themselves. This development community has been and will continue to be an integral part of our success story.
Developers new to the platform will find that the design philosophy that has made Palm’s products such a success with users is mirrored in our approach to development. One example is that of minimalistic design. Palm’s products have always been designed with only the necessary pieces in mind. Never are arbitrary frills thrown in just to make the device seem more appealing. Instead, we implement features that people will actually use and that are well suited to the constraints present on a small device. True to the philosophy of the devices themselves, the Application Programming Interface (API) has been written with simplicity and applicability to a small device in mind. The functions are tweaked for instant response to user input, easy synchronization and backup, and a simple, consistent user interface in all applications.
We believe that this book will greatly benefit any Palm Computing platform developer who follows the book’s advice on how to create the best application with the lowest development cost. To quick-start your own application, you can use the sample programs in the book as building blocks. We hope that they will contribute to the fast development and superior performance of your application—and, in turn, will help it contribute to the growth and power of the Palm Computing platform.