MSDN publishes (and pulls) Widgets for Windows Mobile 6.5 developer article


If you’re a web developer like myself wanting to jump on the new Windows Mobile 6.5 web applications “widgets” bandwagon, then you can get a quick sneak peek at what to expect with a technical MSDN article titled “Developing Widgets for Windows Mobile 6.5” posted by accident a couple weeks ago and pulled soon after. With a little help from Google, one can now take an early look at how one develops for this platform.

From what the article describes, widgets are packaged into ZIP files with the file extension “.widget” and can be deployed from both the Windows Marketplace for Mobile and a local computer. This package which contains HTML, JS, CSS and image resources will then be installed to the device’s “Program files” directory.

One significant limitation of the widgets platform this article reveals which hasn’t been discussed before is the security model which is highly restrictive. Because the widgets run inside a chromeless Internet Explorer wrapper, it is confined inside the Internet Explorer Sandbox. The widget therefore cannot access contacts, messages, calendars, registry or the file system (besides the files in the widget package). To access other resources, a few protocols (mailto:, sms:, callto: and tele:) can be used to initiate some phone functionality. Network access too is disabled by default and each widget must request access when it is installed.

To compensate for the restrictions, Windows Mobile does make available a number of properties through a couple Javascript objects to reveal information such as display rotation, phone operator, roaming state, signal strength and battery status. Furthermore, widgets can take advantage of the soft-keys by attaching functionality on the left and right menus. A flexible localization system is also supported that enables widgets to not only be translated in the device’s language but display regional information (ex. stock market – US/Dow Jones, UK/FTSE).

Can’t wait to see what developers can do with the Windows Mobile 6.5 widgets platform.

5 insightful thoughts

  1. It would be great if they could have access to the messages, contacts, calendars etc….

    It would really give Apple a run for their money – I’d find it much easier to in that then writing an iPhone app (though I imagine they’d be much slower)

  2. The packaging structure and chromeless hosting remind me *very* much of Live Mesh / Live Framework’s Mesh-Enabled Web Apps, which I am sure are coming to Windows Mobile at some point. Once this happens, I assume developers will be able to use Live Framework APIs to access contacts, calendars, mail, Live Folders, and more. It is quite possible that Mesh-Enabled Web Apps will simply reuse existing Widget hosting functionality.

  3. I had a play with it on the iPhone and I was left with a “so what” feeling.

    So what I can see a bunch of really zoomed out images, not particularly useful or helping in any other implimentation.

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