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Ranting about Nokia’s development kits

I bought my E61 smartphone last December, because my other UMTS phone broke and I didn’t have time to return it to the customer care to be repaired or replaced (by the way, I just gave it to a friend of mine yesterday, and he’ll get it to the customer care next week, just to say how much time I had since them to actually get my stuff repaired). I quite enjoy it, because it’s a nice piece of hardware, WiFi support allows me to use it at home without having to use UMTS (which, even if my carrier is quite honest with its price, is still far from cheap), and in case I don’t have my usual ADSL available, it’s still useful to check my mail (like today during the blackout, I was able to answer my work’s mails through GMail’s nice J2ME software, and the UMTS connection).

One thing I failed to find, though, is an application to write to my blog. Typo’s web interface is not going to work on that phone, because the browser does not allow me to scroll down to see the bottom part of the textbox I’m writing into, so I end up writing blindfolded, quite a bad thing to do with a thumb keyboard: while certainly nicer than the awful T9 typing method – I like Motorola’s implementation better – it’s still difficult not to make any mistake.

I found some J2ME-based applications that were supposed to actually work, but one didn’t even install, one seems to provide the date for XML-RPC postings in a format Typo can’t understand, and another has the blog servers hardcoded to blogspot and another service, thus useless.

Add to this that the original sound recorder only records 1-minute notes, and that the only application I found to make a good recorder out of the phone is a $20 proprietary application that writes in AMR or WAV formats only, and you can see why I was interested in at least try to get to work on some application myself (I was hoping to be able to use Speex for a voice recording application, that would be more practical to me than AMR).

Anyway, I looked up some links, and I found an interesting Xcode plugin to develop for Symbian with Apple’s IDE. Unfortunately, S60v3 SDK is not supported, and that is what my phone runs.

So I looked up some instruction to develop under Linux, and I found a page about that too, unfortunately, it always needs Wine installed and set up to be used. Sigh.

The Nokia’s proper way would be to use Carbide.C++, an IDE available also in a free as in soda “Express” version (hopefully enough for what I need), that is based on Eclipse. Good then, it’s Java, should work just as fine… if this was a perfect world of course. Beside the installer being an InstallShield application, there are a lot of extra plugins for Eclipse that probably are the Nokia’s SDK by themselves, and all of them are Windows native DLL Java extensions.. JNI .

And this is not yet over: even wanting to run Carbide.C++ on Wine, to use it you need to install ActivePerl, that in turn requires Windows Scripting Host even to just run the install! And of course, to download WSH you need to pass the Windows Genuine Advantage check, which means I’m back to square one.

Now, Nokia seems to like talking about opensource and also seems quite involved with the Maemo platform that you see blogged about almost weekly by people at Planet Gnome and sometimes Planet FreeDesktop, but they do nothing to allow people working on Linux to develop for their platform, which is, in my opinion, kinda stupid.

We have a lot of good developers using exclusively, or at least mainly, Linux or *BSD. I’m not asking Nokia to opensource all their tools, as I can understand some of them are probably covered by code they didn’t write themselves, but at least they could write it in Java entirely, giving a chance to people using other operating systems to use them.

Now my only choice to write the apps is to use J2ME, that while free, I don’t really see proper to write an on-the-fly encoder.

Nokia: I’m not really that satisfied with your SDK policy, not at all.

Comments 1
  1. Hi Diego,You’re right in that we don’t offer Linux support for S60. If it was easily done, we would — although a smaller cut of the market, it’s still big enough that we could benefit from offering a Symbian C++ solution for it. More so, for instance, than having one for the Mac.The requirement to use Perl comes from Symbian OS itself — more specifically, the build tools. They require activePerl, and that’s where the whole mess starts. I know Symbian is aware of this deficiency, and I for one am hoping that they fill fix this issue, too — since we’re already writing on Eclipse (multi-platform, including Linux and Mac OS), it would be nice to be able to extend support for those platforms.BTW — compulsory plug: Our Free-as-in-beer Express edition is now at version 1.1, and will be updated to 1.2 in May. We’re currently running a beta program. If you’re interested, drop me a line.Cheers,//markus

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