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Q & A on WSTK for Mobile Devices: Web Services Go Mobile

Q & A on WSTK for Mobile Devices: Web Services Go Mobile

(November 20, 2002) - Web services today is about server-to-server communications; however, it will also be crucial to integrate thousands of other devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, and pagers. To meet this anticipated demand, IBM has just unveiled its Web Services Toolkit (WSTK) for Mobile Devices, first-of-its-kind software spanning multiple devices and computing platforms. WSDJ-IN News Desk asked IBM for all the details on this innovative toolkit.

WSDJ-IN: Has the WSTK for Mobile Devices already been deployed in a beta edition?

IBM: No, the WSTK for Mobile Devices has gone straight to the IBM alphaWorks Web site as a downloadable version for developers.

WSDJ-IN: What platforms are supported - and what ones are not, and why?

IBM: IBM is the first company to provide Web services support in C on Windows CE-based Pocket PC, Palm OS-based devices, and BlackBerry handhelds from Research In Motion (RIM).

IBM plans to support the new OS 5.0 from Palm in future releases. As for other devices, IBM hopes that the vendors of those devices will work with IBM to add support for their devices. They can contact IBM via the contacts listed on the alphaWorks site for this project, www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/wstkMD.

WSDJ-IN: What specific handhelds and Palms work with this toolkit?

IBM: It supports:

  • Blackberry 5810 wireless handheld
  • PocketPC
  • Phones with an ARM-compliant processor. Devices with an ARM-compliant processor with 802.11b wireless card.
  • Palm
  • Palm phones with Palm OS level 4.x. Internet access through a service provider is required m500 series with a Xircom wireless cradle or a Palm Modem Connectivity kit.

    WSDJ-IN: How does this relate to IBM's support of open-source?

    IBM uses kXML and kSOAP for the Java implementations. This is an open source effort. IBM also uses gSOAP for the C implementations. This is also an open source effort. By using and supporting open source, IBM is helping to ensure that IBM will have first class implementations across a variety of platforms. This is very much in the spirit of having Web services work in a platform-independent way.

    The WSTK for Mobile Devices is C and Java-based and supports multiple devices. Java is everywhere, and so far, Microsoft's .NET Compact Framework lives only on the Pocket PC.

    The Microsoft .Net Compact Framework only allows developers to create applications for Pocket PC and Windows CE platforms. This illustrates the narrowness of the range of Compact Framework Devices and how .NET's cross-language promise has not been extended to mobile devices.

    This further reflects on IBM's willingness to produce software that will work on a range of systems from other people. IBM does not simply protect or lock you into its own platform. Outside of Microsoft, very few vendors are providing Web services development using C language.

    WSDJ-IN: Can you give us more details about the use of Java and C in this toolkit?

    IBM: The Java Web Service is based on kSOAP and kXML, which are open source implementations of Web services written to run on small mobile devices. Because of the limited amount of memory on these devices and the limited capabilities of the J2ME environment, only a subset of SOAP 1.2 is presently supported. This runtime is supported on PocketPC, Palm, and BlackBerry. The C-based Web service implementation, supported on the Palm, is based on gSOAP, which contains a set of C routines for handling SOAP messages, and a stub compiler that automatically maps native and user-defined C to semantically equivalent SOAP data types. With gSOAP, SOAP interoperability is achieved with the use of a simple API, thus relieving the user from the burden of SOAP details in order to concentrate on application-essential logic.

    WSDJ-IN: How does this fit in with IBM's overall approach to Web services?

    IBM: Web services is not just about B2B and it is not just about enterprise or inter-enterprise server integration. It is about making a heterogenous collection of computers, software, and devices look more homogeneous so that programmers can be more efficient and businesses can get more value from their IT systems. Web services today is about machine to machine communications; however, we can't forget about the thousands of other devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, and pagers that need to talk and coordinate with each other.

    Web services allows small devices to access applications residing on enterprise servers such as schedules, inventory management programs and customer relationship management systems, regardless of disparate programming languages and computing platforms. Web services enable enterprises to extend their existing applications on demand to multiple devices.

    While IBM has provided server-side support for Web services since WebSphere 4.0 in 2001, IBM is now offering this toolkit on alphaWorks for the device side. This technology consists of two pieces, the runtime and the tooling. The runtime supports sending and receiving standard SOAP messages.

    The application calls the SOAP API, passing the information to be sent to the server. The SOAP runtime converts the information into a standard SOAP 1.2 or SOAP 1.1 message and sends the message to the server. The message is then sent using TCPIP over either a wireless card, Internet connection through a cell phone provider, or a modem connection through a service provider. The SOAP runtime has been optimized to fit on small mobile devices. Some of these devices only allow an application to use 256K memory. The tooling support for Web services is written as plug-ins to WebSphere Studio Device Developer 5.0. This means the developer can use the standard IBM tools to develop applications that use Web services.

    The tooling allows the developer to generate application code from WSDL, build the application, and deploy the application on the device for testing.

    WSDJ-IN: What are the implications of WSTK for Mobile Devices from a WebSphere perspective?

    IBM: Tooling support for Java is integrated into WebSphere Studio Device Developer. A developer uses standard IBM tools to develop applications that use Web services. The goal is to make WSDD the premier tool for Java enterprise application development on Palm and Blackberry. Since WebSphere Studio is built on Eclipse, tools from other vendors can be blended with what we are providing in this toolkit.

    The WSTK for Mobile Devices will also be available as a plug-in to IBM's WebSphere Studio Device Developer (WSDD) 5.0 - an integrated development environment for the creation and testing of applications to be deployed on wireless devices. This will allow WSDD developers to build and deploy a Web services application on a mobile device - an increasingly important requirement as access to technology migrates from PCs to more and more devices.

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    Most Recent Comments
    Mandy Zhu 04/07/04 10:46:56 AM EDT

    This article says: The goal is to make WSDD the premier tool for Java enterprise application development on Palm and Blackberry.

    I have downloaded the WSDD V5.6 and I went to the WSTK wet site to download the tool kit and I found out the support for the Blackberry devices is dropped. Any reason? How and where can I find the guideline to integrate Blackberry test environment with WSDD? Thanks.


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