Illusory Follies Andrew Flanagan's Blog

17Nov/082

Cell Phones

Well my new position has been keeping me busy writing software for Symbian, Nokia's primary phone operating system. I hate it. It's fun to learn new stuff and it's probably a good thing to be learning. But it's still awful. Documentation is terrible. Developer forums have lousy support. Two unique programming elements: descriptors and the cleanup stack just make life agonizing.

I've never appreciated C# so much.

On the bright side, it's drawn me back into C/C++ coding which I haven't done in years. That part is fun. It's funny how many things I take for granted with C#. I've even gotten lazier considering some of the wonderful upgrades to C#  3.0. For example:

List<string> list = new List<string> { "Susie", "Lucy", "Bobbie" };

This makes sense to me. It's easy and straightforward. It saves [development] time.

At work things have been interesting because I've been working with developers firmly set in an embedded mindset. They think in terms of saving bytes. My .NET programs take up 20MB of RAM just in basically displaying a simple window with a few controls. It bugs them.

I don't know -- I see the point of using assembly, C, even the horrible descriptors of Symbian for situations where you are highly concerned with efficiency. However, it does seem that you're going to be forced to spend more development time (by a huge amount) and the code will almost by necessity be much more difficult to maintain. When there's no clear single way to convert a descriptor to a char * every developer will do it differently and the code will be more and more complex and incomprehensible. It might run fast, but it's not flexible.

In the world of mobile development, optimization for speed seems important but if you take 6 months to update your application when new feature sets become available, your product likely isn't selling.

Along these lines of thought, I'm considering pouring a bit of time into iPhone development. I've always shuddered at Objective C but I need to bite the bullet and get into it. My assumption is that I'll be happy with it since from what I've heard it balances maintainable,  understandable and easy-to-write code with reasonable performance/stability.

I'll keep you posted.