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 II

Today I want to share a few more details of the plan. As I learn, it will grow and evolve, but you’ve got to start somewhere. So here’s what it’s all about, in bullet form:

1. THE GOAL is to learn to code on my Palm device. Not to be an expert, but just to be able to do the things that a beginner can do. Then if I need something goofy like a utility for my PDA that calculates the number of curved vowel letters in a paragraph, I can write it myself.

2. My experience will be SHARED THROUGH BLOGGING, right here. I’m thinking that there are a lot of people curious about the same things I’m about to discover. And I would consider this whole thing a success if just one other person is inspired to give it a try because of this blog. In fact, I’ll be satisfied even if just one person enjoys following along with my adventures out of curiosity.

Because I’m learning as I go, and I’m not an expert programmer, this won’t be like a tutorial. Don’t expect a well thought out description of the best way to do things. Don’t even expect all the information to be comprehensive or even be completely correct. I’m just sharing my take on things. If you are aiming to become the next great programmer, read this for fun, but go find an expert to learn how to program the right way.

3. This blog won’t have EVERY SINGLE DETAIL documented, but it will have enough to help a lot if you’re someone that is trying to do the same things that I am. And there are a lot of wonderful sources of information that I will point you to along the way.

4. As I alluded to before, I’m a busy person, so entries MAY BE SPORADIC. Don’t expect a daily blog and a toll-free support line! I’d love to get some blog comments with your thoughts and feedback. Hearing from people that have an interest will be my biggest incentive to blog. If no one contacts me, I may just continue "bloglessly".

5. I’m NOT A PROFESSIONAL WRITER. That pretty much says it all, but note one more thing. I’m pretty nervous about sharing all this publicly. Who knows where it will lead, and how stupid I will sound, how easily I'll get stuck. All my ignorance is going to be out in the open for all to see. I say that because a thousand times I’ll probably remind you I’m doing this FOR FUN, and I’m not an expert.

6. How about the end game? Well, I hope to at least continue this blog UNTIL I’VE WRITTEN A SIMPLE APPLICATION, that has some usefulness to someone. Then if I still have the motivation, and the program turns out to be of general interest, maybe I’ll even continue to blog some of the issues involved in publishing it. For example, the licensing and packaging involved with publishing a program at PalmGear or FreewarePalm or whatever ends up making sense.

7. I will be on the lookout for the appropriate software to use in SuperWaba development. There are utilities and programs that are helpful in addition to SuperWaba itself, and I intend to make use of them if they will make life easier. Once I get a feel for what I’ve gotten myself into, I’ll try to start with something like a HELLOWORLD PROGRAM. First in straight Java on the desktop. (Baby steps.) Then on my PDA with SuperWaba. That will be time for a mini-celebration!

8. I’ll focus on A FEW SIMPLE PROGRAMS FOR PRACTICE while I try to get familiar with what’s easy and hard in SuperWaba, learn some basic skills, and get a feel for what the Palm environment means to a developer. And as I do that, hopefully some idea for a simple but useful application will pop into my head. (Or into my blog response comments if you want to help out with ideas for me to consider!)

9. THERE’S NO GUARANTEE OF SUCCESS. This is a fact of life. While I am certain that I could do this if I was willing to work hard enough at it, we are talking about something I’m doing for fun on the side in my “spare” time. If the fun ends, then the project ends. If it turns out to be too hard, I will be ready and willing to admit defeat. But, gee whiz, how hard can it be!!! :)

Well, that’s plenty enough information to give you an idea of where I’m going and what it’s all about. As I learn more about what’s involved in writing code, and start to get ideas for an application it will become much clearer. Remember, it’s not going to look formal, and I’ll probably make a lot of mistakes. If you are an experienced coder, you’ll probably get a good chuckle at many of the choices I make and things I write. But, hey, that’s just part of the fun!

Finally, let me thank all the people that have made this possible with the Waba and SuperWaba projects and creators of some of the other great tools and utilities that I will surely end up using. I intend to do nothing but support their causes and show my appreciation for their work (even if I do some complaining about the shortcomings).

I’d really love to hear someday from those folks responsible for the SuperWaba and related open source projects. I’m especially interested in what motivated them to do all that work. Was it just something they love to do? Was it to help all of us out? Was it because they wanted to see all the great things other people could do if they gave them a platform to use?

If more than a handful of people discover this blog, I’ll also gladly use this forum to help the owners of these great projects in simple ways to get the word out about the good things they have going on. And if, in my ignorance, I either publish incorrect information or suggest anything that causes trouble of any sort, please let me know so I can make an appropriate correction.

Next blog entry… Starting with SuperWaba


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