Initial thoughts on the Palm Pre SDK?
Compared to other platforms – like the Apple iPhone SDK – it is like doing brain surgery with a butter knife.
Simple apps are trivially easy to do, once you figure out how to clone a sample application.
Beyond that, you’re on your own. The learning curve, really, is in familiarizing yourself with the capabilities of the widgets.
Some common widgets are amazingly easier to get up and going than their Objective-C counter parts; for example, creating a list – the most common on interfaces on mobile device – is a snap (provided that you know how many list items you’ll have before instantiating the list).
Dynamic lists, to be honest, are a muddled mess and suffer by a dearth of robust sample code in the SDK. And honestly, there aren’t that many resources on the web, yet, to make up for the skimpiness in this area.
I took one of my iPhone Apps, Cheap Gas!, and attempted to create a port for the Palm Pre.
My initial concern was that I would run into issues generating a SOAP call to the backend GasBuddy.com web service to get my gas prices. To my surprise, I was able to get this working in about 10 minutes. I was able to stub out a static list to format a screen to look like the basic iPhone screen in about an hour.
The trouble started when I tried to get a dynamic list to be created on a successful Ajax call. I still don’t have it right. I’m sure there is some magic “something” that is known only to the Palm keepers o’ wisdom that I’m overlooking.
So, for about a day’s effort I have the underpinnings of the basic port up and on it’s feet. I’ll include a video later this evening demonstrating progress to date.
However, I am very disappointed in the tools supplied with the SDK and the amount of manual yak-shaving that developers have to do. For example, if you want to run your app from Eclipse, you have to manually start the Palm Pre emulator. A small thing, but indicative of the rough edges that are all over the SDK. For that matter, you have to go to about four different places to pick up pieces of the SDK before you can be productive in the first place.
So, if you’re already jamming in Eclipse, you’re used to always these low level things anyway. If you’re looking for a seamless development environment that takes care of all the little things for you, the Palm Pre SDK ain’t there yet. Not by a long shot.