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What's New in Pocket Internet Explorer

What you need
Your current Web application tool set (Microsoft® Visual InterDev®, Microsoft FrontPage®, and so forth).
A live Internet connection from your Pocket PC is helpful.
An Enhanced Browser
A Sample Page
Improved HTML
Extended DOM
Wireless Application Protocol
Web Server
Always Want More
For the Mobile Web Developer

An Enhanced Browser
With the introduction of Pocket PC 2002, there have been even more exciting changes and new features available in Pocket Internet Explorer. A vast array of features awaits any Web developer who looks deep under the covers of what may at first seem like the "same old browser."

When designing Web applications for Pocket PC, you will mainly have to think about:

Screen size
A general rule is to create pages that have a maximum width of 220 pixels since this will save the user from horizontal scrolling. In a Web application meant to be used over a wireless wide area network, bandwidth is really an issue. This means that you should aim for small file size (for shorter load time) when you design your Web pages. As user design research has shown, usability increases as the interface gets—less is more!

Designing for a smaller screen will help you keep the size of your pages down (it will even make you create smaller images).

A Sample Page
Now, let's look at the sample HTML pages. If you use your Pocket PC to read this article, you can find the sample online.

Figure 1. Sample "interactive" HTML page

Improved HTML
First, you may notice that we have included a vlink and alink attribute to the <body> tag. The HTML above will make visited links appear in purple and active links appear in red.

A welcome addition to the image <img> tag is the align attribute. You can align images to the left, middle, or right. In the code above you can see that I have aligned the image to the right, making the text "float" on the left. If I want to break the text around the image, the line-break
tag now has the standard clear attribute. The align attribute has been added to all these tags: <img>, <table>, <caption>, and <div>. In addition, you can now set the color of the normal text with the color attribute on the <basefont> tag. In this sample, I have set the color to dark green.

Extended DOM
You can see in the sample code above that the DOM (Document Object Model) is extended. The most important addition is the ability to use the innerHTML and innerText properties on the

and tags. This makes it possible for you to create HTML dynamically (hence the name Dynamic HTML, or DHTML).

In the example above, I have used this technique to show individual titles in the standard pubs database. I have also loaded an XML (Extensible Markup Language) file and used the XML DOM to manipulate it. As you can see, the XML loads directly from a Microsoft SQL Server™ 2000 using its XML support. If you don't have a connected Pocket PC, put the sample files on your device and just replace the src attribute on the <xml> tag with titles.xml. Other interesting additions to the DOM include the screen object and the ability to use to allow "user interaction" to open those script-generated "navigates."

The final Pocket PC 2002 SDK documentation will include a full reference for the HTML and Microsoft Jscript® capabilities of Pocket Internet Explorer, as well as information on detecting the browser and a style guide for authoring content for the browser.

Wireless Application Protocol
If you're still stuck in the dark ages of WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), you should be happy to see that it's now supported. This is actually something that you don't find in the PC version of Internet Explorer. The WAP support includes WML (Wireless Markup Language), WMLScript, and WBMP (Wireless BitMaPs). There is also support for WSP (Wireless Session Protocol) that enables compression of HTTP headers to minimize demand on bandwidth.

Web Server
There will be a Pocket PC Web server in the final SDK. With it, you can run your Web-based applications offline—even using Microsoft ASP (Active Server Pages). You can also use http://localhost in Pocket Internet Explorer to access the local Web server.

Always Want More
I welcome all these new features, but as always I have a couple of bullets on my wish list. Things like support for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), client-side VBScript, and more extensive DHTML support would improve Pocket Internet Explorer even more.

For the Mobile Web Developer
If you want to deploy a custom application on your users' Pocket PCs, you are probably interested in some of the enhancements when developing client-side, Web-aware applications. I will briefly cover just some of the more important improvements, but each topic is probably material for a separate article.

HTML Control
The HTML control now includes a DTM_NAVIGATE message that essentially allows a developer to wrap the functionality of Pocket Internet Explorer inside a custom application. The HTML Control now supports downloading of images, sounds, and other "external" content, automatically. For example, simply return "0" for NM_INLINE_IMAGE and the HTML control will download the image, as shown in the sample HTMLHost included in the SDK.

New URL Moniker APIs
With the new URL moniker APIs you can get better control when interacting with the Internet using HTTP or WAP. Some new APIs at your disposal are URLOpenPullStream, which is used to pull down chunks of content from the Internet, and URLDownloadToFile, which is used to download from an URL to a local file. Others are URLDownloadToCacheFile, URLOpenBlockingStream, and URLOpenStream.

XML Parser
The XML Parser helps to manipulate XML without building an in-memory tree representation of the entire XML document. This interface was designed for developers who want to scan a chunk of XML to find a certain tag. The Push Model XML Parser includes an IXMLParser interface that parses XML either from an IStream, or directly from an in-memory buffer or a URL.

Events in ActiveX Controls
Microsoft ActiveX® controls in Pocket Internet Explorer now support events. This requires that ActiveX controls implement the IProvideClassInfo interface. ATL controls provide a default implementation of this interface, but it must be manually added to MFC-based controls.

ActiveScript Hosting
With the IActiveScriptHost interface you can use the JScript engine from within your own application.

Context Menu Extensions
This will enable you to add context-sensitive menu options to Pocket Internet Explorer (when you tap-and-hold on a Web page).

Pocket Internet Explorer provides a capable platform for Web and browser-based applications when the Pocket PC is connected to the Internet. Security options, such as 128-bit SSL or accessing intranet sites via the virtual private networking features, allow you to deploy professional business Web applications for the Pocket PC. You just have to get going!
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