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Developing Bluetooth applications

A discussion of the development of applications using the Bluetooth protocols, some products that support that development, and what you can expect from such development.

If you're an IT administrator trying to determine whether you want a mobile architecture in your company, or what that architecture should look like, you'll pretty soon decide that you're going to need at least some minimal software development to support that architecture. But what does that mean in terms of capabilities, requirements, and so forth? This tip, excerpted from InformIT, discusses the development of applications using the Bluetooth protocols, some products that support that development, and what you can expect from such development. You may never develop one line of code, but if you're getting into the mobile arena, you should know what development for it entails.

Numerous Bluetooth products have already emerged onto the marketplace. Yet this is just the beginning of the 'market stream,' as both the variety of applications and rate of release are expected to grow considerably over the next few years. The products form the end-function for the user; they are the embodiment of hardware, software, manufacturing, production, sweat and tears. As such, they come in many guises: integrated or stand-alone applications on a Microsoft or Linux operating system. Alongside these, we have witnessed the release of products that are embedded: mobile phones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and cordless handsets.

With the prospect of undertaking the development of a new product, the engineer can draw upon various development suites that aid in the creation of both hardware and software. Much of the groundwork has already been covered, making it unnecessary to 're-invent the wheel'.

Bluetooth development kits themselves offer various levels of support—from a low- or high-level perspective. Each kit is designed to offer various benefits to the developer, obviously depending upon what you need to achieve. The primary, generic purpose of all development kits is to provide a supported core tool for the development of your new and unique Bluetooth application, aiding in your development life-cycle and certainly making life easier by allowing you rapid realization of your product expectations. In addition to this generic primary benefit, each kit will 'sing its own praises' by reinforcing a number of product-specific value-added traits such as free developer seminars, access to knowledge base directories, technical training or round-the-clock support.

A general premise is that Host Controller Interface (HCI) or Link Manager (LM) commands are entered through a common window, which affords the developer the ability to observe a variety of operational data simultaneously. Typically, this is the minimum expectation of a development suite. Common viewable operations include protocol monitoring through the stack layers, message exchanges and the transmission and monitoring of individual commands or events, typically at the higher-layers, such as L2CAP, RFCOMM and SDP. Through this observation portal, the developer is also equipped with a powerful tool for code debugging and editing. Another key benefit to the kits is their innate teaching ability in that the kits provide an immediate professional development environment for those new to Bluetooth Profiles and wishing to understand the Bluetooth protocol in greater depth. It also demonstrates how each layer of the stack interacts with each other. By studying the readily available source code within any Bluetooth development kit, you instantly arm yourself with the confidence of a proven application template on which to evolve your individual knowledge and abilities.

Your development kit may come complete with a full Bluetooth protocol stack, which will be reconfigurable for different interfaces between the Bluetooth host and host controller. All kits are linked to a particular manufacturer's device and, as such, there may well be some company-specific constraints surrounding the APIs needed to design an application. This does not alter the fact that, by using a development kit, much of the work has already been accomplished on your behalf. From a marketing perspective, any organization planning to provide a Blue-tooth development kit would be naïve not to consider any promotional opportunities attached to such an offering.

To read the entire article from which this tip is excerpted, click over to InformIT.

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