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Nokia: Taking Carbide Tools To Symbian OS Print E-mail
Written by SymbianOne   
Tuesday, 08 November 2005
At the Smartphone Show Nokia announced a new range of Eclipse based tools for C++ based Symbian OS development. Richard Bloor caught up with D'Arcy Salzmann, Senior Manager, Developer Tools, Nokia to find out more about Carbide.c++.

Richard: Exactly what has Nokia announced regarding tools for Symbian OS?

D’Arcy: We have announced a suite of tools called Carbide.c++. We are taking the CodeWarrior assets we bought a year ago and migrating the essential Symbian OS technology into an Eclipse based IDE. We are then adding a number of new features, such as on-target debugging for S60 and a rapid application development tool for both S60 and UIQ.

The move to Eclipse has also allowed us to offer a free version of the IDE, called Carbide.c++ Express, for the first time. This will include all the basic PC based building and emulator debugging functionality, so developers will be able to start Symbian OS development for absolutely no cost.

Richard: While introducing a free tool is laudable won’t it simply cannibalize sales of the commercial version?

D’Arcy: I’m sure there will be some developers who will see the free tool as a viable alternative to one of the charged versions, but we have moved the price of all the products down significantly. We are also putting more popular functionality into the Carbide.c++ Developer version (the equivalent of the CodeWarrior for Symbian OS Personal version) and pricing it at 299 Euro, so we are not too worried about the free tool cannibalizing sales.

To put this in context our overall strategy is to help grow the ecosystem of developers working with Symbian OS. So what we may loose with developers picking up the free tool, rather than one of the commercial ones, we expect to gain when they start to see rewards for their Symbian OS development and move to the commercial tools, because the tools enable them to create application faster and more efficiently.

Richard: On-device debugging for S60 in the Developer version seems to have been a long time coming, why has it taken until now?

D’Arcy: I think many people believe it was an issue about IP and what curious developers may find from debugging on a phone, but the reality is that it is all about ROM budget. Even adding 50k or 100k to a ROM can change the profitability of a phone. So providing a feature in a multi-million production run of a phone, so that a few thousand developers could do on-device debugging, was an unacceptable hit on the margins.

We have overcome that issues by re-architecting the debugger so that it can now be loaded into a device’s RAM; so the developers who need on-device debugging can get it without impacting the ROM on millions of phones.

Richard: So will on-target debugging be available for all S60 devices?

D’Arcy: No, its only something we will be offering for devices based on S60 3rd Edition, but once developers get to S60 3rd Edition devices there is no special build required. They will just load in the debugger into a commercial phone and can then debug their own applications.

Richard: And presumably they will have to wait for the Carbide.c++ tool too?

D’Arcy: No, it’s available today for developers with the CodeWarrior for Symbian OS Professional tools, assuming they have access to a 3rd Edition device.

Richard: The RAD tool is clearly a big step forward in simplifying Symbian OS development, how comprehensive will it be, does it do both UI and non-UI development?

D’Arcy: RAD will include both visual and non-visual elements. One of the key things we want to achieve with the RAD tool is to make it a learning tool for developers new to Symbian OS without providing extraneous detail that could slow an experienced developer. So what we will have is RAD tool that really teaches you as you go, but then, once you know, it doesn't get in your way.

Richard: One deficiency of RAD tools, particularly for something like S60 that has quite specific screens, is that they don’t often provide real guidance, you can just drag and drop anything. Does the RAD tool address this issue?

D’Arcy: In fact it does, so rather than simply giving the developer a blank canvas to paint any control onto, the tool will provide predefined S60 and UIQ views. These can be added to an existing project in Carbide.c++ and it even picks up that project’s features. If you want to creating something bold and unique you can still work from a blank form, but for normal S60 development most developers will want the use the normal UIs to interrogate and display the application data. With the defined layout the tool will also prevent you from adding components that don’t belong in the style of screen you are creating. Also, when you add a component the tool will inform you of the different options for laying out the component; so for list you can choose simply to have a label, label and icon, label and number etc.

Whenever a component is added it will also create skeleton code — with marker showing the developer where they should add their own code.

It also will include options for internationalization, so developers can view the screen in different languages to check the design. It takes any in place editing, such as a label on a menu item, and stores it into the language resource file. Normally, when you create a new menu item in code you have to store the string or logical name in three different places. It doesn't matter how advanced you are, at some point you are going to miss one of those out, and that just creates a hassle. With RAD developers no longer have to figure out how to correctly create data for localization, the tool does it for them.

It will be extensible and allow developers to add their own custom control into the tool. There will be the ability to import existing project into the tool. It won’t bring in everything, there are too many different things developers could do, but it does mean existing application can be modified with the tool too.

I believe that the RAD tool will really help newcomers become productive quickly. For experienced developers it will let them efficiently create application by eliminating many of the time consuming tasks, allowing them to concentrate on using their skills to create great functionality.

Richard: Sounds impressive. When can developers expect to see these new tools?

D’Arcy: Carbide.c++ Express is expected to ship at the beginning of next year and Carbide.c++ Developer should be shipping in the middle of next year.

For more information on the Carbide.c++ tools see www.forum.nokia.com/carbide.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 November 2005 )


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