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The Compact Framework is not perfect. In particular, its class library represents an abbreviation from the Framework with which we are all familiar on the desktop. This means that in many cases, the classes and namespaces that one wants to use based on one's knowledge of the desktop Framework are not available for use on devices.

Enter the third-party component vendors. In an environment where expected pieces are frequently missing, these organizations stand to make a fortune as more and more developers move from the desktop to the device and find themselves wanting components to replace abbreviated functionality.

ComponentOne's Studio for Mobile Devices is an excellent example of this. I believe that all three of the components in this suite had previous lives as desktop components, but I'm sure their use of pure managed code made them fairly easy to migrate.

MobileFlexGrid is potentially the most pragmatic of all the controls in the Studio product. Although the Compact Framework includes a DataGrid control of sorts, it is extremely limited in its functionality. This control is a replacement for the built-in DataGrid control, with more useful features.

MobileChart allows developers to create great two-dimensional charts for use within Compact Framework applications.

Finally, MobileZip facilitates the use of various compression algorithms from within mobile software applications running on the .NET Compact Framework.

I only had minor quibbles with any of the functionality presented by these products. All of these quibbles seemed to revolve around the idea that these components were ported from existing desktop implementations, and in some cases, the porting has not been as thorough as it might have been.

In the final analysis, though, this lack of thoroughness is minor and I would not hesitate to recommend these components to anyone looking to create world-class mobile software for the .NET Compact Framework.

Product Name: ComponentOne Studio for Mobile Devices
Manufacturer: ComponentOne
List Price: $799.95
Rating: ***
Reviewer: Derek Ferguson

The best way for me to explain both the strengths and weaknesses of this book is for me to tell you how I use it. I take it with me into every introductory class that I give on the .NET Compact Framework. I have found that, in general, I know the answers to just about every question I get asked in such classes - but not all of them! In the cases where I can't, I simply wait for a break, then page through this book to find the answer - I've never been disappointed - I have always been able to find the answers here.

I don't, however, use this book when I am actually back at my desk, writing custom mobility software for customers using the .NET Compact Framework. In these cases, I almost always focus on the advanced topics in one specific area of .NET mobility - usually SQL Server CE - and in those cases I am far more likely to refer either to the Microsoft documentation, or to Jon Box and Dan Fox's book, Building Solutions with the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework.

To clarify my assessment of this book then, I have found that it contains preliminary-through-moderate information about every single topic in the .NET Compact Framework. I would go so far as to say, if you are thinking about getting started in .NET mobile software development, you should buy this book and read it from cover to cover. If you internalize everything you read, you will advance from neophyte to competent Compact Framework developer by the time you are done. Just show me any other book that can make that claim!

Having said this, you will still need some additional work and materials in order to reach an expert level of understanding. At almost 1400 pages, this book is not short by any stretch of the imagination. It turns out, though, that even this is not enough room to give in-depth, advanced coverage to any of the topics, much less all of them.

For this reason, I would have to cite it as the only Compact Framework book suitable for beginners that also manages to cover a good deal - if not all - of the advanced topics in .NET mobility.

Title: .NET Compact Framework Programming with C#
Author: Paul Yao and David Durant
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
ISBN: 0321174038
Reviewer: Derek Ferguson

More Stories By Derek Ferguson

Derek Ferguson, founding editor and editor-in-chief of .Net Developer's Journal, is a noted technology expert and former Microsoft MVP.

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