Comments on: Developers Move to Support Expansion Cards (Updated)

The expansion ports on the m500 series, the HandEra 330, and the Clié are good ways to store files and documents but developers are going to need to write new versions of their applications to allow them to access the cards. I spoke with many of the main Palm software companies to see what their plans were for supporting these new removable media.
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Docs to go won't support my SD

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 1:36:26 PM #
I can't see any of the PDBs on my SD with the version of docs to go that came with 505. I can see a pull down called internal but there's no way of seemingly using the SD for editing or viewing.

RE: Docs to go won't support my SD
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/12/2001 3:54:11 AM #
An excerpt from the DataViz web page:

Currently, Documents To Go does not work with the Palm Secure Digital Expansion Cards. All Documents To Go applications and document files need to be stored on the Palm OS memory. We are looking into supporting this in a future version.

What about databases?

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 1:39:42 PM #
How about database programs such as jfile, handbase, tealinfo, isilo, mobiledb, etc.? Whether or not these will be able to access files stored on the SD card on the m50x will be key.

RE: What about databases?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 3:17:20 PM #
I specifically wrote to the developers of JFile regarding this, and this is the response I received:

"Thanks for the inquiry. SD card reading of databases is not in the
near term future for JFile at this point. Unlike the Handspring
modules memory expansion, the SD card modules of the new Palm's are
VASTLY different in terms of storage, structure and layout, and for
apps such as JFile that require repeated and often record based
accesses, the supporting of such a new file system is a very major and
complex change (it is easier for apps such as document readers or
images that have just a continous 'file' of data). It is, however,
certainly something we will continue to look into here for possible
ways to implement this.

J.J. Lehett
Land-J Technologies"


Great... I wanted an m505 specifically so I could read large database files off of it. Nice to know that once again, JFile will be slow to update, if at all.

Don't know about ThinkDB or HanDBase -- if they add support for SD Cards, I'll instantly dump JFile and switch over.

RE: What about databases?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 3:21:41 PM #
Forgot to mention, I also wrote to the companies responsible for ePocrates and TealInfo about Expansion Card support. Haven't heard back from TealPoint yet, but here's what the ePocrates folk wrote:

"Thank you for your feedback. We appreciate your comments.
Memory constraints are a concern for many users and we have
gone through great efforts to compress our database. qRx
3.0 with AutoUpdate required just under 1 MB. You will note
that qRx 4.0 has many new data fields and much more robust
functionality, but requires only 1.1 MB of memory because of
our compression. Other handheld references like LexiDrugs
1.7 MB and the PDR 2.2-2.5 MB require much more memory.

We are continuing to explore other avenues in an effort to
further compress future versions of ePocrates qRx.

qRx is a dynamic database that cannot be moved into the
flash memory expander, but some other static programs can.

Please let us know if you have any other questions or
suggestions for improvement."


So apparently, with ePocrates, only the main program can be placed on an expansion card, but the remaining databases must be left in regular Palm ROM. I'm beginning to wonder if ePocrates understood what I asked of them...

I'll add on here when I hear back from TealPoint...

RE: What about databases?
Ed @ 5/3/2001 3:22:21 PM #
Sorry, I missed a whole category of applications, didn't I? I've just written to the developers of HanDBase, thinkDB, MobileDB, and JFile asking them what their status is. I'll update the article when I get some responses.

Palm Infocenter
What about Isilo?
Bubba @ 5/3/2001 3:58:21 PM #
What about Isilo? I have a TON of stuff in Isilo but have heard that it is not compatable with the SD cards. If anyone knows anything, please let us know!

About iSilo
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 4:15:47 PM #
I specifically wrote to iSilo regarding the same issue with the Main file staying on RAM and the databases/docs residing on the SD card. This is their exact quote:

Support for the extra capabilities (e.g., color/reading of documents
on SD) of the M505 are under investigation for the future.

About iSilo
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 4:17:44 PM #
If enough of us bug them with emails, maybe they will see how important this issue is and maybe they will make the "future" a "near future".

RE: What about databases?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 4:49:14 PM #
I agree. Here are some email addresses. Please write them and tell them you would like to see SD card support:

JFile: or

Thanks everyone!

Ed @ 5/3/2001 4:54:57 PM #
I've added MobileDB's response to the article.

Palm Infocenter
RE: What about databases?
mengshi @ 5/3/2001 9:06:00 PM #
For those who don't already know...

1) iSilo already can directly read files stored on CF card on the TRGPro and HandEra. I have been doing this for 1 year now. iSilo can be run from CF card as well. I have a 5MB iSilo file on CF from an online medical text book that I converted with iSiloWeb.

2) On the TRGPro/HandEra, JFile databases and the app can be read and run off the CF card as well. You just can't edit the dB in CF.

3) HandBase - the app can be run off CF but the dB has to be in RAM.

Not sure about the rest because I don't use them.

I know that the whose Lexidrug app and dB can be run off CF. If I'm not mistaken, all the SkyScape programs and dB can be run off CF. Only the notes / therapeutic indices when you create them are stored in RAM. These are tiny.

So, for those who need to do the above, it is worth checking the HandEra and TRGPro out. They've been ahead of everbody for a loooong time now.

RE: What about databases?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 9:36:35 PM #
Which online medical text did you convert?

Message from iSilo
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 11:04:13 PM #
"iSilo does not currently have the ability to read documents from the SD memory card, but support for it is under research for a future version, and so it could potentially be available in a few months."

Message from JFile
jwouden @ 5/3/2001 11:06:07 PM #
What we are looking into currently, is a method similar to how applications on the SD card are handled - moving them to RAM when needed, and back to SD when finished with them. We don't yet have a definitive answer on this yet, but it is among our top priorities along with the release of JFile 5.x, which is due in the June or July timeframe.

Message from Skyscape
jwouden @ 5/3/2001 11:07:43 PM #
(They make Lexidrugs, 5 minute clinical consult, Apothecarium, etc.)

"Currently our products are not functional from the SD card. We are working on it now and should have ready soon."

RE: Message from JFile
Ed @ 5/3/2001 11:24:02 PM #
I added to the article the answer I got from
Land-J Technologies. It has a bit more information.

Palm Infocenter
RE: What about databases?
mengshi @ 5/4/2001 6:16:07 AM #
> Which online medical text did you convert?

More specifically, Orthopaedic Text. I went to Wheeless Online Textbook of Orthopaedics and converted the whole site minus the pictures using iSiloWeb at a depth of 3 level. Took me > 5-6 hours on a 56K dial-up modem. With pictures, the file size exploded to > 15MB but I was unable to load this as I don't have a CF reader. At a level 3 conversion, I'm still missing some less important parts of the website dealing with abstracts. A level 4 conversion increases the file size exponentially.

Actually, you can use iSiloWeb to convert any site but it helps if the site has very little extraneous material because you can't specify much what not to include apart from pictures and whether to follow off-site links.

RE: ePocrates
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/4/2001 9:03:02 AM #
The response posted above from ePocrates looks like a standard boilerplate "sorry we use so much RAM" message, rather than a message tailored specifically to the SD/MMC issue.

Of course, this doesn't mean that they will be supporting SD/MMC, but it doesn't mean they won't, either.

Message from Mobile DB
jwouden @ 5/4/2001 3:18:26 PM #
"Thanks for the feedback. We are working on a new and improved version of MobileDB and we hope to make that version SD/MMC-aware. Since we are in the middle of development on that version it is unlikely we will add this functionality to the current version. We hope to release the new version later this summer."

Copying databases back to Palm: This is a problem!!!
jwouden @ 5/4/2001 5:15:50 PM #
I got this post off of

"Hi. I just got a m500 and a palm 16MB SD card from staples. I loaded the m500 with a doc reader and some docs from memoware. I then moved the docs to the card to save space on the handheld for more applications. NOW after I copied them over I wanted to read one of them. SO NOW i have to reverse the order and copy the DOC from the card back to the handheld BUT WAIT!!!! YOU CAN NOT DO THIS!!!!! IN the copy application it only list applications and NOT DATABASES or DOC FILES on the CARD. It lists them on the handheld BUT NOT on the card. So you can not retrive them. PLAM SCREWED UP! I called supprt and the tech guy at LEVEL TWO had no help and said this was a problem.... You can uyse the DELETE function and delete them off the card but you can not COPY back to the hanheld....

ANY ONE ELSE experince this????? HELP!!!!! I bought a m500 to save large doc files and databases (.PDB files) to the card for reference. If I can not g copy them back then the m500 to view them then the m500 is USLESS!!!!!! "

thinkDB and Expansion Cards
Ed @ 5/6/2001 1:04:40 PM #
I have updated the article with info on thinkDB.

News Editor
Palm Infocenter
Message from HanDBase
jwouden @ 5/7/2001 12:41:55 AM #
"The Current version of HanDBase is not able to see Databases on any Storage card including the New SD and MMC Cards that you can use in the new m500, m505 and
Handera 330. We do have plans to implement this in some way in a future version of HanDBase. We currently have HanDBase 3.0 in development and we hope to include support for those in that version."

Seamless memory

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 1:47:21 PM #
I'm glad to see that launching from the SD card is being taken care of. Also, released their new reader program version 5.0 that can read off of the SD card without loading it into memory first they say.
Will the new Palm m500/m505 ever have seamless launching of the SD card or the ability to have apps simply pop up into a category instead of being it's own directory (I guess something like a TRGpro although I've never owned one)? Or is this something that's in the hardware and can never be overcome. Thanks.

RE: Seamless memory
mengshi @ 5/3/2001 9:18:33 PM #
I have been running HandHeldMed's Merck Manual and Harrison's off the CF card of the TRGPro for over 1 year now ! This is using their old reader.

Same thing will do for the HandEra but now it has both CF and SD slots.:-)

My big-db apps...

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 1:51:14 PM #
The apps that I'm hoping will support the expansion cards are iSilo and ThinkDB. If I still used QuoVadis, that would be on my list too.


Generation 1 or generation 2 SD card

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 5:17:28 PM #
Hi. I have heard that current SD memory expansion cards have a data transfer rate of 2Mb per second,
but that a 2nd generation will be released that will have a transfer rate of 10Mb per second. Does
anyone know if this is true and when the 2nd gen cards will be released?


RE: Generation 1 or generation 2 SD card
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/4/2001 2:48:31 AM #
Yes, that's true, go to
They say that they will release a 256MB SD this year with 10MB transfer rate/sec.
A 1GB SD card is scheduled for 2002.

Roman from Austria

RE: Generation 1 or generation 2 SD card
David @ 5/4/2001 10:47:39 AM #
Here's the US site for the above information:

Start at Square One again, Ed

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 5:21:32 PM #
-- and ask all of them if they will support the new CLIE's features:

1) 320x320 resolution
2) Memory Stick

See what you've started?

Already Included
Ed @ 5/3/2001 5:35:53 PM #
I already asked all of these companies about their Memory Stick support. If they said they would, it is in the article.

As mentioned at the end of the article, I'm already putting together an article on what applications will support both the Clie's and the 330's higher resolution screens. Look for it in a few days.

Palm Infocenter

RE: Start at Square One again, Ed
mikecane @ 5/4/2001 11:52:02 AM #
We shall have to rename this place: Ed InfoCenter, perhaps?

Medical People Great News

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 6:03:13 PM #
I just checked out and the new Reader which is compatible with the Palm m50x and Sony Clie is now available for download.
Here is a cut/paste from the website:
Handheldmed Reader Version 5.0 for Palm OS Now Available!

Handheldmed has released version 5.0 of its reader for Palm OS. Version 5.0 has all
of the many features you have come to rely on with previous versions. In addition, we
have added the Sony Clie and Palm m500 series to the long list of devices that are
currently compatible with the reader. Among the many tools found in the
Handheldmed Reader is its unique ability to access book files stored on CF,
SmartCard, and MMC memory expansion cards without copying the files to RAM.

RE: Medical People Great News
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 6:34:52 PM #
This is great news! Thanks for the tip.

RE: Medical People Great News
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/31/2002 3:58:28 PM #
i have installed reader both on my clie and on the ms and neither way allows you to access the merck manual, if anyone knows how to do this please email me

You forgot one: PalmReader!

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 7:20:52 PM #
Ed, you forgot to mention that there is one application that already supports reading databases directly off SD, MMC, and MemoryStick cards: PeanutReader (oops, I mean PalmReader). When I had a Palm m500 (before I returned it), I was able to put a ton of standard palm doc files as well as PeanutReader encrypted books on an MMC card and read them directly from the card using PalmReader. Scott over at Red Mercury confirmed that PalmReader also works with the Clie2, reading docs directly from the MemoryStick.

RE: You forgot one: PalmReader!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 9:51:56 PM #
How is this possible?? It doesn't look like PalmReader has been updated since Feb. 14, 2000. Version 1.52, right?


RE: You forgot one: PalmReader!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 10:29:06 PM #
Where are you seeing such an old version of PalmReader? The version string in the last version of Peanut Reader I used is 3.2.13, and then it was converted over to being PalmReader (v1.0) around the time the m500/m505's were announced, in March.

RE: You forgot one: PalmReader!
jwouden @ 5/4/2001 9:53:44 AM #
The Palm Reader comes with the m50x, right? Evidently Palm acquired PeanutPress (

Updates to Article

Ed @ 5/3/2001 11:38:57 PM #
I'm adding applications to the article as they come in from the developers. Anything labeled as "New" has been added since the article was first posted.

Palm Infocenter
RE: Updates to Article
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/4/2001 8:41:57 PM #
This incrementalism is going to be around for awhile so I suggest before we start suffering from a fragmented data overload a nice permanent fixture to your site would be a table where the rows are software programs, grouped in categories, and the columns features such as:

no card support
copy to ram and run
run from card directly

(for each type of card) then,

supports sony 320x320
subheading (native or quadrupling)
supports handera 240x320
subheading (native or scaling)

color support
subheading (256 or 16bit)

A comprehensive listing of every program could (and should) be added to a site like, but realistically, I'd bet that there are less than 75 real memory hog programs+data that people are looking to house in expansion cards.

What I've read so far doesn't please me. Looks like we're in for a 2-3 year blood bath while the competitors slug it out for dominance. For example on the win ce side, when I was looking into it I saw programs that were "processor specific". That's BS to me.

It's incumbant on the os makers to work closely with the hardware makers to make sure support is in the os. For non-standard hardware, imho, it's incumbant on the hardware makers to take a couple software companies' products under their wing to display the possibilities available with the non-standard hardware.

This way, we don't have "half-solutions" and "chicken and the egg" dilemmas. We have complete solutions of differing types. First impressions are important and hardware makers need to have at least limited examples of "complete solutions" ready out of the gate, and not leave people wondering why they just spent $350-$500.

This 8 meg limitation needs to be quickly upgraded with a processor that can directly address 256 megs of RAM (and let users decide how much they want to pay for).

(soapbox mode : off)

David, somewhere in Pflugerville, TX

RE: Updates to Article
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/6/2001 2:15:09 AM #
I really can't believe that Palm would not have a fully usable memory manager that would allow users to EASILY manipulate our data. I purchased the M500 for Adobe pdf reader, isilo, and docs to go. none of which support the SD/MMC card. What do they think we want the expanded memory for? I bought a 32 meg MMC card and would love the unit if I didn't have to keep mounting and unmounting, loading and unloading my files. I've waisted so much time manipulating my data to justify the purchase price.
Read This again, There are programs out there that allow the limited use of the SD/MMC cards, but at a price.( the time it takes to implement the workarounds into you production scheme.

RE: Updates to Article
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/16/2001 5:30:50 PM #
I just bought a brand new Palm 505 after being very happy with my Handspring Visor Deluxe with 8MB flash expansion card. I guess I was dumb enough to think that the palm would have a file mover like the Handspring. Only one program out of the 5 I use frequently supports the Palm expansion card. This is ridiculous.

Alex Robinson
Hard Core PDA user

Other photo apps?

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 11:51:27 PM #
What about other photo apps? e.g. SplashPhoto (a great one!), Album to Go, PocketAlbum, PixScreen, MyAlbum, etc.

Why so Lazy?

EdwardGreen @ 5/4/2001 5:27:22 AM #
Those of us in the development camp have had plenty of time to develop VFS versions of software - we have had the ROMs for nearly 6 months - and has stacks of info on how to do it.

I wont be buying software unless VFS and other expansion formats are supported in future.

It reminds me of supporting colour. Not too difficult to achieve but took some people over 6 months. Developers must realise that if they don't support MS/VFS/CF then people will not be buying their software. Newer companies to PalmOS, like MGI will take the business.

MGI photosuite can read Images and 16bit Video from the SD slot.

Anyway i better go play with my virtual n700c now.


Because so cheap!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/4/2001 9:41:14 PM #
You aren't going to buy any more software? Oh, no! There goes tomorrow's lunch money! - A "Lazy" Developer of free or cheap software for you to complain about not being able to upgrade until the end of time.

[ No Subject ]

Nitewraith @ 5/4/2001 8:48:58 AM #
These were some good stories and I hope to see more of the same

Flash Card/Exp Card

Carl. @ 5/5/2001 5:40:13 AM #
I have no problem reading data/docs from the flashcard.
Because I have a TRG PRO.
RE: Flash Card/Exp Card
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/8/2001 10:49:31 AM #
This program looks interesting for TRG/HandEra units. Has anyone tried Cardbackup?

RE: Flash Card/Exp Card - JPG files
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/14/2001 1:22:17 PM #
There is also a new tool to view JPG pictures
stored on a CF card with the TRGpro


MSMount: Can someone try this?

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/5/2001 4:21:54 PM #
I found this in the Memory Stick posting, read the 2nd post if true it may be the answer to these problems....

RE: Memory stick use...
Posted by: CLIE Users Group Moderator @ 5/2/2001 1:15:32 PM

In order to run programs directly from the Memory Stick, you would need PalmOS 4 and a program that was designed to take advantage of its new API.

To automatically "read" programs without having to copy the entire program into RAM, you would need to install a program called MSMount, currently being beta tested by thousands of CLIE users around the world. This program works very well and will likely be formally released soon. Sony should purchase MSMount and include it as part of the standard software.

You can download the latest version of MSMount here:

CLIE Users Group website:

RE: Memory stick use...
Posted by: I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 10:45:27 PM

MSMount works with Sony's VFS which is compatible with the OS 4 VFS. Theoretically, if this is the way it accesses MS, then MSMount should also work on any device with VFS. As a matter of fact, TRGPro users who have the latest OS 3.5.2 with VFS, and who have tried out MSMount find that it works although with some problems as would be expected of a beta software. Therefore, the author of MSMount should probably rename his/her software to CardMount as it should also work for M50x which has VFS. The only problem with M50x is the speed of accessing the slower SD/MMC compared with CF or MS.

MSMount loads in parts of the program/database into RAM. It loads only the records that are required and hence needs less RAM than the actual file size. What this means in practical sense is the ability to store a dictionary/encyclopaedia that is greater than 8MB and stil be able to access it on the Clie/Handera etc.

BTW does anyone know how MS compares with CF in terms of speed of transfer of information?

RE: m505 & MSMount: Can someone try this?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/5/2001 5:21:02 PM #
somebody with a m500/505 PLEASE try this??? See previous post

Read programs directly from the SD card on m500 and m505???
CLIE Users Group Moderator @ 5/5/2001 5:50:55 PM #
Can someone please verify this by doing the following:

1) Download MSMount from

2) Install it on an m500 or m505.

3) Find out if it reads files off the SD card automatically.

This program could potentially make the m50x series *much* more useful PDAs than they appear to be in their current state, since MSMount could allow any program to be run from the SD slot.

Whoever finds this out first, please post the answer here so Ed can do an article about it.

CLIE Users Group website:

RE: MSMount: Can someone try this?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/5/2001 6:35:37 PM #
where can this be re-posted so m50x users will notice it, the implications for these people are enormous, if someone could jump on it and try it

RE: MSMount: Can someone try this?
Ed @ 5/6/2001 12:21:42 PM #
There is now an article on this subject here:

News Editor
Palm Infocenter

Does the PalmOS have a standard expansion API?

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/8/2001 10:43:02 AM #
I see all these posts about making the software companies support this memory expansion or that one.

Is the PalmOS ever going to get a standard file system?

Software companies would have a standard.
Hardware companies would have a standard.

And most importantly,
We, the **USERS**, would get jerked around.

At this point, my next device will be a PocketPC .

RE: Does the PalmOS have a standard expansion API?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/2/2001 5:23:04 PM #
Yes. It's called VFS. It's a software API so apps can use cards. You can choose the shape of your card. I chose a handera 330 so I can use my CF cards (cheap, available) now and MMC/SD cards later. Using VFS, a program shouldn't care what sort of card it's data is on.

great topics

andrewholler @ 1/17/2003 10:26:24 PM #
This is so interesting! I found this topic quite intriguing. I learn and learn and learn on my own, but man, these articles and responses get my brain going!


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