Palm Coders Go to Camp

After weeks work, a grassroots group of Palm Pre enthusiasts will launch a one day developers "camp" in 80 cities this Saturday.

palm pre
Artwork: Chip Taylor
So far, about 1,800 developers have signed up for the PreDevCamps, which are intended to stimulate the creative juices of attendees by exploring what's involved in writing applications for Palm's innovative webOS, migrating existing mobile and Linx applications to the new platform, and testing and optimizing them.

(See also From Palm Pilot to Palm Pre: A Brief History of Palm's Handhelds)

Presentations and hackathons will review the process of designing and building mobile apps for the Pre smartphone, using Palm's Mojo software development kit (which just went into wide release after a herculean last-minute effort to get it out the door in time), and a battery of traditional Web development tools. As soon as the Pre was released in early June, hackers were busy unraveling the details of its operating system.

Attendees will include mobile application developers, Web programmers, GUI designers and others, most often working together in groups, sharing the experience of programming for webOS. All attendees are encouraged to work on at least one development project, in one of five main application areas: media, communications, games, productivity and reference tools, and system utilities.

Palm's webOS is marries an embedded opensource Webkit engine with a multi-tasking Linux kernel, which lets developers use JavaScript, HTML and Cascading Style Sheets to create native applications that run on the Pre smartphone. Early developers working with the Mojo SDK were impressed with the speed of development and the sophistication of the applications.

Major events will be in San Francisco (at Palm's headquarters), Kansas City (at the headquarters for Sprint, the Pre's exclusive mobile carrier), San Diego, and Dallas, according to the PreDevCamp website. But others are scattered around the globe, from Athens to Zurich, including Budapest, Ho Chi Minh City, Mumbai, Nairobi, Singapore, and Taipei. Attendance is likely to vary widely, from a bare handful in some cases to scores in others.

The event is modeled on the Barcamp phenomenon, participatory groups of computer users and programmers who create and present their own content. The first BarCamp was August 19-21, 2005 in Palo Alto, California, which was organized in less than a week and drew 200 attendees.

PreDevCamp was organized by Dan Rumney, Greg Stevenson and Lisa Brewster. The volunteer, non-profit group is not affiliated with Palm or with the official Palm Developer Network. Sponsors currently include: BlueSwitch, PreCentral, O'Reilly, Zanox, and Adobe, with additional support from LittleSprings Design, Pivotal Labs and UE Architects.

Five hundred copies of the Palm webOS development guide, written by Palm's software chief technology officer Mitch Allen are being provided to the PreDevCamps by Palm and O'Reilly Media, the book's publisher.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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