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Frustrated with J2ME implementation differences

Posted by gvix on January 12, 2006 at 10:31 PM PST

I am getting increasingly frustrated with the level of differences in MIDP, CLDC and optional API's implementations. Device manufacturers are increasingly making independent rules for their implementations, so much so, that it is almost impossible to port applications from one device to another.

Take the case of Mobile Media API (MMAPI) that enables MIDI, tones, audio and video in your MIDlets. The specification for this API is ambiguously written, in parts. You are guaranteed to have major headaches providing workarounds for different devices. Part of the blame lies with the device manufacturers as well, who provide arbitrary implementations with their own understanding of the specifications.

A specific case relates to the supports.mixing property. If true, the MMAPI implementation must provide the ability to play two sampled audio files simultaneously. But can you? No. Several implementations decide to interpret it as a combination of a MIDI file AND an audio file, rather than two pure sampled audio files. Others, decide to make available the mixing of two MIDI files, ignoring sampled audio completely. Still others give even worse results, by only allowing mixing of tones. The API is specific in this regard and mandates the support for mixing of two sampled audio files, if this property is true.

So, who suffers due to this? Content developers and consumers.

The solution, in my opinion, is for Sun (or any other regulatory body), to certify the implementations of MIDP, CLDC and ALL optional API's as conforming to the specifications. Developers will then know, which implementations they can confidently work against.

It is not such a difficult task. There is already a Java Verified program for certifying applications. Why can't we request the same level of momentum and commitment from device manufacturers and Sun?

I am even open to a third party being set up to provide this compliance against the specifications. There is an increasing number of optional API's coming out, all of which will lead to even more frustration and incompatibilities. Surely there is a market here for somebody to grab. Only if the device manufacturers would be willing to play ball.

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