Comments on: New MultiPlatform Handheld Dev Kit

MobileWizardry had announced SHARK, a new development kit primarily focused on building applications for handheld computing. It allows any programmer to build and target a number of handheld devices and platforms with a single code base.
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epall @ 7/10/2003 1:48:06 PM #
Isn't this what J2ME is for?


My first first-post!

epotter @ 7/10/2003 2:00:54 PM #
J2ME does provide the ability to run one code base on multiple platforms, but you need the overhead of a java runtime library. SHARK allows one code base to be compiled as a standalone executable for any one of the supported platforms. Because SHARK doesn't need the java overhead, the apps can run faster, which is really only and issue in multimedia apps.


mikemusick @ 7/10/2003 2:02:46 PM #
> "without the need to get into the specialities of each handheld platform"

Marketing-speak for "We limit you to the lowest common demominator."

> "abstraction layer"

Translation: "Huge runtime interpreting your tokenized object. Better have a 200 MHz CPU, minimum."

Please, somebody tell me otherwise, because we've heard all of this before.

ardiri @ 7/10/2003 2:25:31 PM #
> Please, somebody tell me otherwise, because we've heard all of this before.

SHARK provides a BIOS layer in respect to hand held devices. this means that we've taken all the basic input and output functionalities of PDA's and grouped them into a single, common API.

there is no runtime, there is no interpretor. its 100% native code. we have found our abstraction doesn't limit you that much, mainly because we are abstracting the right things. how much further can you go from abstracting basic input and output - and, access to basic system functions such as 'memory, communications and system events'.

its best to think of SHARK as what you have with MSDOS. you can program exactly what you need, get direct access to the screen, input, files etc.

its not J2ME - however, for most purposes SHARK wont be a turn key solution to be able to build a fully-fledged application on handheld devices. we are building libraries that will exist above of SHARK, to provide you with database management (SQL engine?), user interface (common GUI across platforms) and higher level networking protocols (ftp, www et al).

SHARK with additional libraries is what will create the ultimate development kit for developers. the idea is to only abstract the BIOS - not the complete handheld solution.

a standard set of API's that will exist on top of SHARK will be designed to be cross-platform.
the idea is have developers focus on a standard set of API's that can very easily be migrated across platforms (ie: when new device comes out, we port SHARK to it - all the functionality moves with it).

we'll be releasing a cool game using SHARK soon, and, more information on higher level libraries will be posted shortly.

// az

ardiri @ 7/10/2003 2:31:39 PM #
SHARK doesn't require 200Mhz - download the demo, take a look for yourself, you will see we have a 68k version of the demo program there - its not an ARM only product, but, we have optimized SHARK to run in ARM code on devices that support it (ie: Tungsten|T version is 99% arm, only small 2k loader in 68k)

download the demo - you'll see.

// az

oboise @ 7/10/2003 2:34:15 PM #
Geez, go to login, and two posts that cover everything I was going to say.

Judging by the demo, I was impressed by the size and lack of run time extras. Having tried out App/Forge for VB, this is a pleasant switch from the additional 500k+ for runtime add-ons. Looks like a good excuse to refresh my C.

abosco @ 7/10/2003 4:11:06 PM #
Ardiri, I'm not a dev so you'll need to explain some of this stuff in words I can understand. My #1 concern is applications that are written for other platforms and are then rewritten for shark... will there be 320x480 applications and such? Palm OS has a wide variety of screen sizes and OS's the screen runs on. OS 4.1 Sony's at 320x320 use a different API than OS 5 Sony's at 320x320 and 320x480. How will this work? Will it be able to work with all of these screen sizes and API's, while taking full advantage of it? Will it only support one screen size like 160x160 and limit that application to using that? Will the developer have to select the screen sizes he wants to write the application for? 160x160, 240x320, 320x320, 320x480 in different color depths for OS 4, plus 160x160, 320x320, and 320x480 in OS 5, plus the screen sizes for smartphones, and 240x320 in PPC... I think I need to lie down.

Wow, that's a long paragraph.


aaronchow @ 7/10/2003 4:11:59 PM #
Way to Go, Ardiri, you've surprised us one more time.

Sounds very promising, so I'm going to give it a try when I get back to home.

"I doubt, therefore I might be."

ardiri @ 7/10/2003 4:27:32 PM #
> will there be 320x480 applications and such?

SHARK provides the developer with the NATIVE resolution of the device - this means, they can draw at the highest posible resolution available for the window area that is available (take into account title bar, etc).

_GfxDisplayInfo(uint16 *, uint16 *);

that API gets some info for you, there is also one to get the pointer to the buffer that is use for the application.

SHARK = fully double buffered, you can repaint a region or the whole area with some API calls. in relation to color support? as a programmer, you wont have to deal with bit depths. the current version always has an 8bpp display, regardless of device and then translates on the fly to the appropriate color depth. we can easily have 16 bit - but, for what we want, 8bpp is fine :) very easy to change.

we are working to add support for dynamic sized displayes - and, adding the relevant events to SHARK to support it. we'll release a few demo applications (real stuff, not boring Cube3D) that'll show it working.

its very new, and, tailored specifically to our needs right now (games, games, games) - but we are working on making it more 'common place' for normal developers to really take advantage of. if this is something you could see useful, mail us your needs - and, we'll work on putting a priority on them and providing them.

// az

ardiri @ 7/10/2003 4:37:30 PM #
> Will it only support one screen size

take a close look at the picture in the article, the real image is here:

there are a few resolutions there, all of which are 100% native resolutions. oceana uses three graphics sets, 160x 240x and 320x which is used depending on the resolution of the device. it works very well - and, is not restrictive :)

// az

skeezix @ 7/10/2003 4:59:20 PM #
OKay, I've gotta ask...

Why would you use underscore ("_") as a leading character for functions in the Shark API? In C++ I trust you're using a namespace, but in C it is traditional not to use an underscore for this purpose, and its possible you may be colliding with reserved words or symbols by using the underscore in this way.. Why not "SK" or "SH" or "Sh" or "S" or something? :) (sure, since you're using mixed case Palm OS-style function names its not likely, but it seems a bad idea..)


The Shadow knows!

ChipKerchner @ 7/10/2003 5:01:14 PM #
You can see from the article photo that Aaron has developed a very nice game that runs on currently six (6!) platforms in a very short time period.

You might have seen earlier versions of SHARK DK products. I ported Master Thief 3D to Palm 68K, Palm ARM, PocketPC, Win32 and eBookMan. I also ported SnackTime (a clone of the popular Maryo Bros.) and PDAce to Palm, PPC, and Win32. All of my ports were based on a very early version of SHARK. When we have time we'll bring them up to date so that people can see .

One of the big benefits of using SHARK is adding additional platforms (even ones that don't currently exist) very quickly. I added a SHARK DAL (device application layer) for the eBookMan in about 20 hrs of work. At the time, I was not too familiar with the eBookman. Anyone that may have an EBM, you can find the demo at

If we had to develop a game seperately for several different platforms, we'd have to have 2 to 3 people for each system. Plus it would take several months for each conversion. SHARK will save a lot of development costs and time.

Chip Kerchner

jamesgood72 @ 7/10/2003 5:17:41 PM #

Get back to work on support for Clie sound on XCade, please! :)


ardiri @ 7/10/2003 6:39:41 PM #
> Why would you use underscore ("_") as a leading character for functions in the Shark API

no serious reason :)

it actually right now is pretty safe to ensure that the function names wont collide with API's on devices we haven't got our hands on yet :) and, internally, with an '_', i know its a SHARK API, and, not one of my own routines..

minor - very easy to fix for those who need it fixed :)
[bed time now]

// az

Alchop0p @ 7/11/2003 4:04:39 AM #

I was thinking of putting together an AMOS style set of libraries. Sounds like I don't need to now!

Great, I'll have a play with this soon.


73939133 @ 7/12/2003 8:17:29 AM #
"it actually right now is pretty safe to ensure that the function names wont collide with API's on devices we haven't got our hands on yet :) and, internally, with an '_', i know its a SHARK API, and, not one of my own routines.."

Identifiers starting with an "_" are reserved for the C/C++ implementation; any code that uses such identifiers is not standards-conforming and should be considered broken.

More Details Please??

MountainLogic @ 7/10/2003 5:13:37 PM #
How much is it?
How do I get it?
When can I get it?

SuperWaba, others

73939133 @ 7/10/2003 8:13:09 PM #
Have a look at; it's based on Java, but provides much better libraries than J2ME.

There are also several good, efficient cross-platform toolkits (wxWindows, FLTK) that are being ported to WinCE; PalmOS 5 is too non-standard and limited as a target for a port, but they will probably be ported to PalmOS 6 quickly.

The Ugly Truth About This Developer

The Ugly Truth @ 7/15/2003 2:23:29 AM #
It saddens me to see that posts revealing the truth about the developer of this kit were recently censored.

The following is the truth and can easily be verified independently. It is information that anyone considering using this development kit should be aware of prior to deciding to support the developer. The editor of this site can choose to do as he pleases, but in my opinion suppressing the truth is a mistake. It's a "slippery slope" that ultimately will result in poor, unreliable journalism.

Aaron Ardiri has written unauthorized copies of various games, including Donkie Kung Jr. (sic.) and Donkie Kung (sic.), both of which were withdrawn only after repeated legal intervention by Nintendo.

He also wrote Liberty, a Nintendo Game Boy emulator that requires game ROMs in order to function. These ROMs are usually obtained illegally (by end users). Nintendo also sought legal intervention in an effort to stop the sale of this emulator.

He also wrote HaCkMe, an application used to illegally register Palm software with the registration codes of other (licensed) users. This was withdrawn only after many people complained that it would cause further escalation in the piracy now rampant among Palm users.

On Palminfocenter a few days ago, he admitted to making a clone of the game Bejeweled, which he plans to give away to drum up interest in his development kit. Bejeweled is a licensed game which he presumably does not have the right to copy. His posts have now been deleted, but no doubt many here read what he had to say and can verify this is true.

If any of the above is false, please free to delete this post. Otherwise, I would hope you have the conviction to tell the complete story, even if it isn't pretty.

Michael Jones

RE: The Ugly Truth About This Developer
ardiri @ 7/15/2003 6:17:45 AM #
for the record, i believe the whole thread was removed due to the references to personal matters of the members involved (specifically mike/rayne ethetton). i had no objections to having those posts stay here - because i think we answered everything you seemed to like to complain about (now, those replies are also lost as well).

> It's a "slippery slope" that ultimately will result in poor, unreliable journalism.

i think Ryan is by all means correct in his decision to remove the posts - this site is not for flame-wars/sprouting your opinion about a developer. its about providing news and events specific to the PalmOS platform - your comments are not in place. maybe it is better for you to start a newsgroup where you can post all your hatred/issues you have. that is what everyone would probably prefer.

> Donkie Kung Jr. (sic.) and Donkie Kung (sic.), withdrawn only after repeated legal intervention by Nintendo.

repeated? damn.. you are mis-lead, Nintendo contacted us and the reason why they were removed was because they infriged on Nintendo's trademarks - not copyright. Donkey Kong/Mario are registered trademarks to Nintendo - game clones are 100% legal, although, there is a lot of FUD around this - maybe time for you to check up on the real legal aspects.

> Nintendo sought legal intervention in an effort to stop the sale of Liberty.

Nintendo hates emulators - bottom line. the fact of the matter is that Liberty emulates GameBoy devices - devices that Nintendo doesn't even sell anymore. their focus is on GameBoy Color/GameBoy Advanced. obtaining the ROMs is the real ethical question - however, thats for the user to decided, not us developers. there are users who *legally* use emulators, not many, but there are a few.

> HaCkMe, an application to illegally register Palm software with the registration codes of other (licensed) users.

wrong. it was for users who replaced their device/changed their hotsync user name. what people use it for, thats another story. get your purpose right please.

> he admitted to making a clone of the game Bejeweled

shall i point you to a (long) list of Bejeweled-type clones available on Palm/other platform? why just mention me?

> If any of the above is false, please free to delete this post.

Ryan, i would prefer you leave this post and my reply. it should resolve all the issues that were discussed - and, lets let the readers come to their own conclusions.

> Michael Jones

how many Jones exist in the phone book? please dont use this as some way to 'put your name on your post'. the name is most likely bogus, and, if it wasn't, you have only provided it since it is a very common name.

hopefully this is the end of the discussion.

// az

Bejeweled: clones
ardiri @ 7/15/2003 7:18:28 AM #


pocketpc: (opensource)





thats only the first few hits from - we took a popular concept and bundled it into our development bit; its not 100% based on bejeweled - we will be adding our own little special touches to the game - its going to be there for educational purposes (ie: show how SHARK works internally, developers will work from this to build their own products).

the swapping items type puzzle is not 'new', and, certainly not created by popcap. i remember a number of games prior to popcap's existence that used this exact same concept.

// az

RE: The Ugly Truth About This Developer
skeezix @ 7/15/2003 9:27:19 AM #
A filthy filthy conversation. Shoudl be ashamed of yourselves :/

1) Aaron is arrogant and can be a pest; he generally knowas this and has apologized on occasion

2) Most of the antics were 3+ years ago. Get over it :/ Bringing it up in order to damage his company is what we call "slander".

3) Aaron may run with wolves, but then he also helps newbies every day in palm-dev-forum (the official Palm OS support forum for development)

4) Remember that Nintendo got in how much hot water for Donkey Kong, which is itself a direct rip off from a certain movie company (King Kong). Remember Nintendo got sued over this, but was eventually thrown out of court since no one knows which movie company owns the license ;)

5) We don't need to hear about this again, and again AND AGAIN. Gods.

6) Mike -- I'm alarmed at how you've repeaterdly trashed emulation in general.. you've been assumign its onyl for gaming and only for little warez script kiddies. You realize gangsters use telephone lines right, and that peopel have been killed withpencils and spoons before right?

7) Bejewelled is itself a clone of dozens of older applications. Theres also a new jewel-picking-game every week. Its like Tetris. Its amazing Popcap didnt' get into trouble over Bejewelled.. except that its in the *public domain* this sort of thing. Like Chess.

8) Emulation *is* legal. Emulation is a term given to virtual machiens that simulate published specifications generally. Palm OS 5 is an emulator (hello!). Emulators have been made since the 70s as development environments (ever seen a scanner at a grocery store? You dont' develop those in hardware.. you develop in an emulator first, for example!). Java is an emulator of a virtual machine that never existed. The Infocom games are emulators since day one (of a machine called the ZMAchine that never existed). You use emulation every day of your life. Its legit and always has been. You get a published spec, you write a piece of code to do that. Woopie. Its done every day by companies to assist people for the most part. Arcade and consoel emulation is onyl a recent thing.. and it too is very legal and is used by the very companies to develop their software! Heck, Palm OS development is mostly dune under POSE (Palm OS Emulator). You have no idea of what you speak :)

9) Copying "ROMs" (ROM chips, cartridges, CDs for Playstations and GameCubes, music from tapes or CDs or whatever.. all media is protected pretty mcuh the same way, with some extar caveats for software) is usually illegal for most people -- you generally don't have ther right to copy it form someone else, and they dont' have the right to offer it to you (thats distribution licensing). Emulation has nothing to do with this. You *do* have the legal right to translate a ROM from one format to another for your own use or backup, for example. The laws are explit and long and justified, in the same way you can read your CD and put it onto tape if your car has a tape player.

10) Emulation is a good thing; you realixe that the Vectrex (a vector not-raster based gamign console has had its software released in the public domain, right? Same with much classic Commodore 64, Amiga and Atari ST software.. fully released to public (with rights reserved usually). Emulation is healthy and fun and a good way to keep the old times alive. And legal!). Even if some companies dont' want it though.. if you own a PAcman machine, why not have a PAcman emulator? ITs fully in your or anyone elses rights to build the emu, and its within your rights to run it, if you have the license to run Pacman.

11) You must also remember there is more than the US here. Laws vary by country, very much. Many emulators are built in Finland, Korea, China, you name it. The US is not the largest source of developers in the world anymore.

This stuff is all rpetty obvious, but I find myself seeing these posts and wondering why peopel eem, to have no idea about their rights :)

I'm an honest guy; feel free to ask questions all day long. I also sell an emulator, and I've been writing them for free for almost a decade. I've *spoken* with companies about this and they're mostly happy wityh this. I've got letters askign for permissions abotu this. Some companies get unhappy about it, but thats because many companies dont' want you do things you have the right to do. But the VCR is legal, for instance. You dont' think the companies what you having a VCR, but its somethign which has helped the world a lot, and I bet you have one. You just didnt' think about the legal implications, did you?

I've been writing emulators since 1994 and I am selling one right now. I encourage people to do it legally like I do though.. we who write emulators do it for love of an induistry and oldhardware, and want that industry to stay alive. I rebuild jukeboxes in my spare time, and I've lovingly restored dozens of machines to their former glory. I own about 9 Pacman cabinets right now, and I can bloody well play Pacman on my PC if I want to, fully legally. I've got an EPROM reader to pull the ROMS off my boards (which I did) (and EMP10 and EMP20 I might note, from Needhams).

Emualtion is legal, is encouraged by many companies, is needed by most industries. Its not just about script kiddies :)


The Shadow knows!

RE: The Ugly Truth About This Developer
ChipKerchner @ 7/15/2003 1:12:59 PM #
I just like to chirp in here too.

I'm the other co-founder of MobileWizardry. I worked my butt off too working of various versions of the SHARK DK. I've worked with Aaron for the past three years. Aaron isn't the only one involved with this product and most of the other projects at MobileWizardry (hence the change from I find the comments posted previously slanderous and also harassing to me, Aaron and our company (as well as other people and their families). If you have a problem with Aaron, that's fine. But I feel you are just trying to discredit him, his projects, and any company he works with. We are working hard to improvement PDA development (entertainment and otherwise).

Liberty (GB Emulator) is not Aaron's product. If you take the time to look, it is written by Mike Ethetton from Gambit Studios. Mike did most of the work on Liberty (including 100% of the emulator).

I hope in the future, we can move past this point of tearing down the products and companies associated with Aaron. You are hurting a lot more people than you realize (and I'm asking you as a civilize person to stop).

Chip Kerchner



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