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Using the Windows Mobile 5.0 Emulators in Visual Studio 2005

by Wei-Meng Lee
Use ClickOnce to Deploy Windows Applications

If you have ever developed mobile applications, you know the importance of using emulators. Emulators allow you to test your application on different types of target platforms without needing to buy all these devices (which is not practical, as it is almost impossible to test your application on all makes and models). And so the emulator plays a very important part in the development cycle: How realistically can it emulate a real device? Are you able to drag and drop files onto the emulator? Can you install applications onto the emulator?

In this article, I will explore the emulator tools support that shipped with Windows Mobile 5.0 and Visual Studio 2005, and how you can use them to help in your mobile application development.

What You Need

For this article, you will need the following:

Creating a Windows Mobile 5.0 Application

Let's first start by using Visual Studio 2005 to create a Window Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC application. In Visual Studio 2005, go to File-->New Project, then select the Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC project type and choose the Device Application template. Use the default name of DeviceApplication1 and click OK (see Figure 1).

Figure 1
Figure 1. Creating a new Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC application

Deploying to an Emulator

Once the project is created, you will see a default Windows Forms. We are not really interested in populating this form; what we are interested in is deploying it onto an emulator. Press F5 to debug the application. You will be asked to select a device to deploy your application (see Figure 2).

Figure 2
Figure 2. Choosing the device to deploy to

Select Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Emulator and click Deploy. The emulator will be launched and then a while later the application is deployed onto it (see Figure 3).

Note: If you are deploying a Windows Mobile application onto an emulator for the first time, it may take a while for the application to load. This is because Visual Studio 2005 is busy installing the .NET Compact Framework 2.0 class libraries onto the device. Subsequent deployment will be much faster. For your information, Windows Mobile 5.0 devices do not ship with .NET Compact Framework 2.0; they come with .NET Compact Framework 1.0 in ROM.

Figure 3
Figure 3. The emulator and the deployed application

.NET Compact Framework Pocket Guide

Related Reading

.NET Compact Framework Pocket Guide
By Wei-Meng Lee

Connecting to Different Emulators

In the last section, you saw how you can launch an emulator when you deploy an application. However, this is not always necessary. In Visual Studio 2005, there is now a Device Emulator Manager, which you'll find at Tools-->Device Emulator Manager (see Figure 4).

Figure 4
Figure 4. The Device Emulator Manager

In the Device Emulator Manager, you can right-click on the emulator that you want to launch and select Connect (see Figure 5). The selected emulator then is launched.

Figure 5
Figure 5. Selecting an emulator to launch

Connecting an Emulator to ActiveSync

While you can launch an emulator and try out all the various features available in the platform, a much more useful feature is the ability to connect to the outside world. You may want to install a third-party application onto the emulator and see how it runs, or you may just need to transfer some files into and out of the emulator, onto your PC.

To do so, you need to use ActiveSync to connect to the emulator. First, in ActiveSync, go to File-->Connection Settings, and in the options for Allow Connections to One of the Following, select DMA (see Figure 6).

Figure 6
Figure 6. Configuring the connection settings in ActiveSync

Next, in the Device Emulator Manager, right-click on the emulator that is currently running and select Cradle. Once this is done, you will notice that ActiveSync now detects a connection from the emulator. The Synchronization Setup Wizard will now appear (see Figure 7). Click Next to proceed.

Figure 7
Figure 7. The ActiveSync Synchronization Wizard

As usual, you can configure your synchronization options (see Figure 8). Click Next and then Finish.

Figure 8
Figure 8. Configuring the synchronization options

ActiveSync should now be connected with your device (see Figure 9).

Figure 9
Figure 9. ActiveSync connected to the emulator

Once the emulator is connected to ActiveSync, you can explore the file system on the emulator by clicking the Explore button in ActiveSync. Figure 10 shows the location of the application (\Program Files\DeviceApplication1\DeviceApplication1.exe) that was deployed earlier.

Figure 10
Figure 10. Locating the application that was deployed earlier

Besides exploring the emulator's file system, you can now also install applications onto your emulator. You can now directly install Pocket PC applications onto your emulator (see Figure 11) through ActiveSync.

Figure 11
Figure 11. Installing an application onto the emulator through ActiveSync

Within minutes, I am having fun with some games on the emulator (see Figure 12). This ability to install applications onto the emulator is useful when you are building installation packages for your Windows Mobile 5.0 applications and you want to test them out without using a real device.

Figure 12
Figure 12. Playing games on the emulator

Changing Screen Orientation

Beginning with Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, all devices support both the landscape and portrait screen orientations. As a Windows Mobile developer, it is your duty to ensure that your application is orientation-aware, and hence testing your application in both orientations is important.

In Start-->Settings (on the emulator; see Figure 13), select the System tab and the Screen item.

Figure 13
Figure 13. Launching the Screen application on the emulator

Select the Landscape orientation option (see Figure 14) and click OK. The emulator will be rotated according to the option selected.

Figure 14
Figure 14. Changing screen orientation

Visual Studio Remote Tools

Visual Studio 2005 ships with a set of tools for Windows Mobile developers. You can find the tools by going to: Start-->Programs-->Microsoft Visual Studio 2005-->Visual Studio Remote Tools (see Figure 15).

Figure 15
Figure 15. Remote tools in Visual Studio 2005

Remote File Viewer

The Remote File Viewer works similar to the Windows Explorer with which you are probably familiar. It allows you to view the file system on the selected device/emulator. When you start the Remote File Viewer, you will first be asked to select a Windows CE device/emulator (see Figure 16).

Figure 16
Figure 16. Selecting an emulator

The Remote File Viewer then displays the file system on the selected device/emulator. You can transfer files in and out of the device as well as delete files on the device (see Figure 17).

Figure 17
Figure 17. The Remote File Viewer

Remote Heap Walker

The Remote Heap Walker displays information about the following:

Figure 18
Figure 18. Processes running on a device

Figure 19
Figure 19. System memory used by a process

Remote Process Viewer

The Remote Process Viewer window displays information associated with each process running on a target device. You can use the Remote Process Viewer to kill processes that are running on a device/emulator (see Figure 20).

Figure 20
Figure 20. The Remote Process Viewer

Remote Registry Editor

The Remote Registry Editor displays the registry for a target device and enables you to add, delete, and modify registry keys and registry entries. You can also edit the registry entries on your local computer using the Remote Registry Editor (see Figure 21).

Figure 21
Figure 21. The Remote Registry Editor

Remote Spy

The Remote Spy displays messages received by windows associated with applications running on a target device (see Figure 22). Remote Spy displays a list of the windows that are open on a target device. In a separate window, the tool displays information about the messages in the message queue for the selected window.

Figure 22
Figure 22. The Remote Spy

Remote Zoom-in

The Remote Zoom-in displays a screen image from a target device. This tool is useful for capturing screen shots of your device/emulator (see Figure 23).

Figure 23
Figure 23. The Remote Zoom-in


In this article, you have seen some of the techniques and tools that make your life as a mobile application developer easier. Learning how to use the emulator to your advantage will greatly increase your productivity and ensure that your application runs on various devices without problems.

Wei-Meng Lee (Microsoft MVP) is a technologist and founder of Developer Learning Solutions, a technology company specializing in hands-on training on the latest Microsoft technologies.

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