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Windows Mobile Pocket PC Smartphone Programming

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

How to launch a program via command line in Pocket PC 2003 device and Pocket PC 5.0 device?

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How to launch a program via command line in Pocket PC 2003 device and Pocket PC 5.0 device?

As you may have already known, Pocket PC does not have a shell (unless you want to install one), so there is no easy way to launch a program by typing in command line. Daily average user may not have such requirement. A developer, especially a Java developer, may consider it a nice-to-have feature. Java program is normally launched in the following format:

<jvm_executable> [jvm_argument|jvm_argument] <main_class_name> [program_argument|program_argument]

The command line is usually long. Worse, for debugging purpose, you may need to feed different arguments into your program.

If the device is connected to desktop PC via ActiveSync

If you have setup your development environment and connect the device to your desktop via ActiveSync, the IDE will take care the steps to remote launch a program.

You can also install Windows Mobile Developer Power Toys, which packages a few useful tools for developers:

  • Emulator ActiveSync Connection Tool - Allows Activesync to connect to your Emulator session from Visual Studio .NET 2003.
  • ActiveSync Remote Display - Display Pocket PC applications on your desktop or laptop without needing any device side configuration.
  • CECopy - Command line tool for copying files to the device currently connected to desktop ActiveSync.
  • Convert PPC DAT to SP XML - Command line tool for generating Smartphone CABWizSP XML docs from existing Pocket PC CAB files.
  • Hopper - User input stress simulator.
  • JShell - UI version of the Platform Builder Target Control Window.
  • PPC Command Shell - Command shell for the Pocket PC 2003 device.
  • RAPI Debug - Displays detailed information about currently running processes.
  • RAPI Start - Command line tool to remotely start an application on your Pocket PC from your desktop.
  • TypeIt - Send characters/strings to the Smartphone 2003 Emulator via ActiveSync.

Among them, RAPIStart and PPC Command Shell can be used for remotely launching an application via command line.

What if the device is not connected to desktop PC, for example, I am outside my office

The above tools requires the Pocket PC to be connected to a desktop PC via ActiveSync. What if you do not have access to a PC? You can try the following:

  • Go to Today screen (the home screen)
  • Press (and Hold) the Action key
  • Tap the position where the current time is displayed in the title bar

A menu pops up with two items: Run and Clock. Click Run, you will get a dialog asking for the program name and arguments.

It is for sure a painful experience to type a long command line in the Pocket PC. You can first write down the command line in a Word Mobile file, then do a copy and paste into the Run dialog. For varying arguments, just do copy and paste then make minor modifications.

In the emulator you can achieve the same, but you need to press and hold your PC's CTRL key to simulate the behvaior of pressing and holding Action key in real devices. See Emulator Keyboard Shortcuts for details.

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