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Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP)

This page is about MIDP, which is a software environment for Java applications on devices with limited resources (usually mobile phones). All mobile phones support this nowadays, so it is your best bet to write an application which runs on all devices with as little effort as possible. Of course, there are also other platforms.

I wrote MIDP applications for fun and to stay in touch with Java (and possibly for educational purposes and future career options, although that may be a rationalization). You may wish to check out my minimal PNG encoder or have a look at some games I wrote.

Find out more about Java, MIDP, or other platforms for mobile devices.

Tools

Basically, you just need the J2ME Wireless Toolkit which is available for free. This contains everything you need to compile MIPD applications and run them in an emulator. If you are already familiar with Java, the learning curve will be moderate if not positively downhill. Of course, you have to forget about the standard GUI classes like AWT and Swing, and there are more steps required to cross-compile, preverify and package an application.

Using an IDE will make your life a lot easier, because you can simply create a new project, implement some functionality, hit compile and get a packaged MIDlet. I use NetBeans, which works nicely and is available for free. It already comes bundled with the Wireless Toolkit, although you can also configure it to use separate installations, which is important if your project targets more than one platform.

Finally, you will need a way to deploy a MIDlet on your mobile phone. Depending on the capabilities of your phone and PC, this can be done via data cable, infrared or Bluetooth connection. Appropriate software is available from the manufacturer of the mobile phone, e.g., Nokia PC Suite, or from third party sources. It may already be included in the package if you buy a data cable, infrared adapter or Bluetooth stick.

Portability

MIDP is not the most gratifying target platform for writing portable applications. Even a pure MIDP 1.0 application must cope with devices differing in areas like screen size, CPU power and threading behavior. Furthermore, multiple versions of MIDP have been released, and some devices feature vendor-specific API extensions. This is of particular importance because MIDP 1.0 is lacking even some very basic functionalities like sound, full screen mode and direct image manipulation. Most modern devices support MIDP 2.0, which addresses these issues, but does not solve all of them. Also, there are presumably millions of MIDP 1.0 devices still in use.

Most commercial applications use device-specific build configurations, i.e., a different version is released for each supported device or family of devices, which hopefully utilizes that device to the best of its capabilities. This requires to invest additional effort for development, testing and maintenance.

Of course, you don't really want to do this if you are developing for fun. Therefore, I went out of my way to create applications which should run in any MIDP 1.0 environment. In particular, this requires to write a GUI which automatically layouts itself to the device's screen size, although there will always be a required minimum screen size. For coping with missing functionalities, there are different approaches:

Some of the fun I had with these issues was actually my main motivation for creating this web page, and the next section lists some tips and tricks ranging from potentially useful to strictly hilarious.

Tips & Tricks

Some things you never wanted to know about MIDP 1.0

General hints


Copyright (C) 2006-2013 by Christian Fröschlin. Please note the legal disclaimer. If you experience problems with this page, contact webmaster@chrfr.de.