Journey into SuperWaba

Ever wonder what it takes to write programs for your PDA? I did, and so now I am beginning a journey to try my hand at writing something for the PalmOS. SuperWaba, a variation of Java for the PDA, is my language of choice. And I'm a novice, which makes it all the more unpredictable. Hope you'll come along for the ride! Note: You can read multiple posts on one page if you click on an archive link.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Introduction I


My name is Bob, and I’m a Palm enthusiast who wants to learn to write programs for my PDA. I use my Palm every day and am a fan of the great software out there at reasonable prices. I’ve come to appreciate some of the great developers we have in the PalmOS world, and I want to learn a little more what it's all about.

I’m not really a programmer, though. I think that’s what will make this interesting to other readers who sort of know how to code, but not really. Maybe you have written some old BASIC text output programs in high school. Or maybe you took a few programming classes in college. But you haven’t really done anything significant. Maybe you feel that OO, GUI and event driven programming and design sounds simple when you read about it, but not so easy when you try it. And it sounds even worse to try it on a PDA.

Well, I'm going to give it a try. But before I begin, I feel obligated to set the scene by giving you a little information about my background relative to programming. Bear with me for just a moment.

I admit first of all that I'm not a total and complete novice to programming. But I sort of am a newbie in a way. You see I’m the not-so-unusual mix of “used to be a coder” and “can barely write a HelloWorld program”. I wrote a lot of text-based BASIC code in college. I wrote little things like a system utility for my TRS-80 Model I to make the cursor blink.

I did some more interesting things like some simple game programming with assembler for Z80 and learned the basics of Lisp, Ada, Pascal, Modula 2, Cobol, Fortran, etc etc. I entered computer programming contests in high school that required me to turn in boxes of punch cards!! In two breakneck days, I once wrote a cross assembler for my Radio Shack pocket computer. (Which had a querty keyboard, a form of Basic and undocumented access to machine code, but it had only a simple one-line LCD display of about 30 scrolling characters. Imagine that!!!)

I work in IT, but not as a programmer. Along those lines, I wrote some Java "persistence" code (the layer of code that handles database access) for a project back in the Java 1.1 days, so I used to know a little about a subset of Java. But every attempt I made at a real GUI app turned out pretty messy and went nowhere. GUI design with Visual Basic in MS Access seemed really easy, so I gave that a try. But once I got started, it just didn’t seem worth the effort because it seemed too hard and uninteresting to justify the time required.

Okay, enough fessing up. You know my background now. I’ve dabbled a lot. I even did some interesting things for fun before GUI and OO were popular. But the times have passed me by, I want to get my foot back in. My PDA is just the motivation I needed. It's something I use every day.

That motivation is increased by the existence of SuperWaba. It seems to have become pretty popular, is well thought of, and I just love the whole concept of great software provided free by the software development community for the community.

The goal is to get up to speed on the basics. I won’t worry about distributed computing and fancy Java frameworks and app servers. I just want to learn to write a real program so I can do simple stuff on my Palm. Maybe I’ll even be able to give something back to this Palm community that’s provided all that cool software I use. And in the process, I get to program and play with my PDA, so I figure I’ll enjoy the journey. My biggest hurdle might not even be learning what to do. It might be the challenge of remembering that there are much more important things going on in my life, like the people I care most about, so the time I spend on this effort must be limited.

If you’ve actually read this far, you’re definitely my target audience, because the average person would have already said “Boring!....”

But you’re obviously not the average person. You’re either curious about what’s going to happen or you also feel those same longings to program on your PDA. Maybe you even want to follow along and do a little Palm programming yourself. Who knows?... Maybe this exercise will inspire you to be one more freeware coder for the Palm community.

Next Time: INTRODUCTION II (Some more information about where this is going)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find your Blog interesting, but am more surprised that you used a TRS-80 :) Unlike you, I am a true novice to programming but recently decided to teach myself (something I wish I would of stuck with back during the early 80's), first with Qbasic, than Visual Basics, and than I will try programming on the Palm OS through Visual Basics by using the plug for the Palm OS called AppForge. I also have began a website, not a Blog, but one dedicated to PDAs..Hopefully I will have that ready to run with in a week or so. Good luck withyour programming :)

8:57 AM  

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