Friday, December 1, 2000

Train your staff with the Palm OS Emulator


By Ed Crandell

Before you can transform your employees into an effective mobile workforce, you need to train them in the use of their new handheld tools. At first glance, the traditional methods of training--demonstrating programs with a projection system or printing screen dumps--don't seem to be possible with Palm devices. However, by using an application called POSE (Palm OS Emulator), you can use the same methods used for teaching desktop applications.

POSE: A Palm computer on your desktop

The Palm OS Emulator allows you to run Palm applications on your Windows, Macintosh, or Unix desktop computer. It can be downloaded for free from the Palm OS Emulator page at While at the site, download the Emulator Skins file so you can have your simulated Palm device match the look of the actual device your trainees will eventually be using. These skins not only include those devices manufactured by Palm, Inc, but also many of the models made by Handspring, IBM, and Symbol Technologies, allowing you to configure your emulator with the look and feel of the devices your company uses.

To make the emulator work, you'll need to transfer a ROM image from your handheld to your computer. The documentation for POSE describes how to do this transfer. Once you have the ROM image transferred, you can use POSE just as you would a real Palm device. Your mouse will take the place of the stylus Simply click the mouse to represent a tap on the emulated Palm device's screen. The Graffiti hand recognition also works the same way as on an actual Palm handheld. However, while using a mouse Graffiti can be a little clumsy, so you may want to use your keyboard for entering text. POSE can even be configured to use the networking capabilities and serial port of the host computer.

Since POSE was initially developed to assist programmers in debugging their applications, the behavior of POSE (with just a few exceptions, such as beaming) matches that of an actual Palm device with extreme accuracy. Since you're using the ROM image you supplied to POSE, the version of the built-in applications will match those of your Palm device. This matching goes so far that holding down the power button for a few seconds will activate the backlight and pushing the button on top of the Palm V will activate the contrast control. The biggest difference between using the emulator and a real device will be the speed of processing. Depending on the computer running the emulator, the program may run faster or slower than on an actual handheld, due to the overhead of emulation.