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Palm Tutorial


To write, compile and test your first Palm application.


Structure of a palm application

First, you need to include your definition file(s) for the app and the system file(s) related to the APIs and data structures you use from the SDK.

#include "hello.h"
#include <System/SystemPublic.h>
#include <UI/UIPublic.h>

The equivalent to C's main() is PilotMain: UInt32 PilotMain(UInt16 cmd, MemPtr cmdPBP, UInt16 launchFlags). The arguments are somewhat equivalent to C's argc and argv. They specify which event fired the app. In hello, we will only deal with the most basic LaunchMode: sysAppLaunchCmdNormalLaunch. Other modes are presented further in this tutorial.

We will open our main form with FrmGotoForm(Form1) and enter an "infinite" loop that will manage system, menu, form and user events. This loop will actually terminate when the user leaves the app or if there's any critical error. Here's the body of this loop:

EvtGetEvent(&e, 100);

if (SysHandleEvent(&e))

if (MenuHandleEvent((void *)0, &e, &err))

switch (e.eType)
   case ctlSelectEvent:...
   case frmLoadEvent:...
   case appStopEvent:...
   case frmOpenEvent:...
   case menuEvent:...

When the user quits the app, we do an FrmCloseAllForms() and return 0.


A well-written app should not include any UI element inside its source code. Those guys must be stored elsewhere: in a resource file. PilRC uses .rcp as an extension in the filename. Once you have a clear idea of how your UI is going to look like, just fire your favorite text editor, describe your resources (menus, forms, buttons, images...), save the file as a .rcp and compile it with PilRC. Once you understand how to create a resource file, you may want to use a more visual way of doing it, such as PilRCEdit.


The makefile is included. Here's what it does for you:

  • compile the .c into a .o with gcc
  • compile the .rcp into a collection of .bin with pilrc
  • combines the .o and .bin into a .prc with build-prc

You may double-click on hello.prc that you just compiled, and then run HotSync, which will load "Hello" on your device. This is the easiest way, but also not the quickest. When you develop an app, you have to test it over and over again. HotSync takes sometime to run, which will significantly slow down the development process. The other way of testing an app is to load it on the Palm OS Emulator (aka POSE). This tool emulates both the processor and ROM of a device. You must download POSE as well as the ROMs of the devices you need to emulate.

Once you have POSE running, just drag and drop hello.prc and click on the Hello icon in the emulator.

Please note that all the applications of this tutorial will be stored in a specific category in the PalmOS Launcher. Just like you have 'Main', 'System', 'Utilities', 'Unfiled'... You'll have a brand new category named... Guess what?... 'Tutorial' #:-}


Download the ZIP file.

As it's your first Palm app, your task will be easy.

In the resource file, you need to add:

  • the title of the form
  • a label with the smiley
  • an ICON clause that tells PilRC which bitmap is used as an icon in the Palm launcher

In the C file, you should:

  • include the .h file
  • declare an EventType variable named "e"
  • add a call to FrmGotoForm(Form1)
  • add a call to EvtGetEvent(&e, 100)
  • add a call to FrmSetActiveForm(FrmInitForm(e.data.frmLoad.formID))
  • add a call to FrmGetActiveForm() and store the result into pfrm
  • add a call to FrmDrawForm() passing pfrm as an argument
  • clean up when the user quits the app, by calling FrmCloseAllForms()

Lastly, in the makefile, replace all occurences of MY_APP with hello.prc.


Here's the ZIP file.

And here's how the app should like:

Palm Tutorial

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