Last approach to giving J2ME some delightfulness

I was recently working on a really small set of applications for Java as a part of my University assignment. I managed to set up a simple PHP script on one of my servers to get GameTracker.com data in XML. I first did an ajax-based web service on tomcat, then
a swing application. Both using SAX parser, it worked great. The last step was a mobile application. Building a basic version was almost effortless, because I was using SAX, it was just a matter of generating a table from a set of data. It was nice to see something working, but it was ugly! I didn’t spend too much time on it, so it didn’t seem finished. With some spare time, I thought about taking care of the interface. I used to make some J2ME games, so I knew my way around a GameCanvas. Coding a new cool GUI took me
twice as long as coding the previous basic application, but at last it looked nice.

The mobile application itself is just a tech demo, who the hell needs a game tracking feed on a mobile! However, if I needed to develop a similar tool I’d think twice before using the standard GUI API. It’s just way too old. There are many interesting J2ME applications and in theory, there should be a good market for them, but have you heard anybody saying “Wow! I got this cool Java app on my phone?” – maybe once or twice in life. I’ve tried J2ME VNC by the way and it’s annoying. “J2ME app scene” consists of not so playable games and some strange looking apps that you can find on very dodgy J2ME software sites.

Oh well, can you blame a technology that is about 10 years old? Here’s a shot from MIDP for PalmOS

It’s PalmOS kids! The coolest toy to be around before Windows CE came out (and became useful). I loved the good old PalmOS πŸ™‚ Ahhh… I guess, that’s the price for a “standard” compatibility. Especially the visual part of any J2ME application will be hard to control depending on the device. I mentioned quite popular Java Games, but I’ve seen many of them go wrong!

Well, seven years later we have iPhone, then Android. Making a nice interface on them using standard tool set is really easy. The devices are more powerful, more colors, better resolution. Mobile platforms are focused more and more on design and style, which is nice… apps are for people and if we use them daily it’s good to look at something nice and readable. Obviously it’s quite silly to even compare those platforms, but the general summary is: producing a nice looking app for iPhone or Android is effortless, while J2ME will always look like 90’s.

Enough of this random talk πŸ˜‰ Here’s my try on adding some style to the great functionality that J2ME still has to offer.

So… which one is more Quake-ish πŸ˜‰