The link between Windows CE/Windows Mobile applications, ASP.NET and HTML5

Windows CE/Windows Mobile applications are practically .NET applications that based on a subset of the .NET Framework (.NET Compact Framework). Windows CE applications got descent popularity with early PDAs and smartphones that were based on Microsoft’s Windows CE operating System. In the past few years it was replaced by Windows Phone without backwards compatibility or Visual Studio support beyond VS 2008.

This makes applications that were written for Windows CE become obsolete today. Together with the fact that the market today is dominated by Android and iPhone devices, organizations and the developers are facing a strategic and operative dilemma regarding the future of their Windows CE/Windows Mobile applications or even new mobile developments. They need to make a decision about the technology and platform which they are going to rewrite the application on and obviously whether it is even cost-effective to rewrite the application all over again. Microsoft Windows Phone would be the natural decision as it can be developed in Silverlight within Visual Studio 2010. But the problem is that it would not work on Android and iOS devices which dominate the market. We could choose another target platform and develop for it or decide to develop for all major platforms, which obviously means more time and more money as well as more costly maintenance in the future.

So we see a lot of different mobile frameworks today but most of them are so foreign to the common Microsoft developer. In most cases it would be easier to hire new developers who are experienced in those environments or use outsourcing shops than learning those new skills. But of course we don’t want it, so we keep looking for a solution that would allow us Microsoft developers use our existing skills for as many target platforms as possible.

And this is where Visual WebGui comes into play; it brings .NET developers the ability to develop web and mobile applications using Visual Studio and common .NET (Windows Forms) concepts and skills. Visual WebGui is an extension to ASP.NET and behaves exactly the same as ASP.NET in terms of coding language and compilation products.

The mobile framework extends ASP.NET by providing a Visual Studio add in with a classic .NET form designer - with tweaks and designated controls for mobile purposes and usages - the outcome is native ASP.NET applications with HTML5 front-ends. This means that it can be accessed on any mobile platform and any device via the mobile browser while still developing in classic Microsoft Visual Studio patterns and not having to develop especially for each platform.

Going back for our dilemma about Windows CE and Windows Mobile applications, Visual WebGui also provides a quick and fairly simple migration path. There is an interesting post on how Israel’s Telecom Company successfully moved – in less than 2 months - their aging Windows CE application to ASP.NET HTML5. This allowed them to enhance the application, move it to a current technology and provide field technicians with new Tablet accessibility to the revised application rather than having to use old Windows CE devices.

Hope this was useful!

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