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Programming languages for your WinCE device

I got this WinCE device that I’ve been trying to wrangle into a nice cozy environment to do useful things so the first thing I started looking at was the availability of development tools that I can use directly on the device.

In general, I prefer Ruby however I’m not wedded to it since I’d prefer a language that is more

  • More mature for the host OS it’s running on
  • Can actually DO something besides Hello World
  • Actually can access standard libraries that would come with the desktop version (I don’t just want the language core)
  • Maintained to some degree
  • Not a PITA to install

After looking around I dug up the following :

  • Ruby WinCE
    • Has Ruby 1.8.6
    • Maintained to some degree
    • Not much docs in English (that’s fine I read Japanese)
    • The installer is basically unzip and plop into a directory somewhere
    • Not much docs on what to do with it
    • Looks like a “I got it compiled don’t know if it really works” project
    • Seems there can be string handling issues
  • Ruby CE
    • Also Ruby 1.8.6 based
    • Seems to be in active development
    • Looks like the developer is actually trying to get real code working with it
    • More documentation on how to install and bootstrap it
    • Seems more promising for using it for real coding over Ruby WinCE
    • No lazy installer. Zip files that need splatting on the filesystem
  • Pocket Scheme
    • An implementation of the Scheme programming language (Not all of it though)
    • UTF-8 support (woot!)
    • Rather well maintained
    • The interpreter/IDE integrates better with the OS
    • Supports cut and paste better
    • Actually has working sockets
    • Can do file manipulation
    • Code samples!
    • Lazy Installer
  • Python CE
    • A Python implementation for WinCE devices
    • Looks actively maintained
    • Actually has a wiki for documentation and it doesn’t seem THAT dead
    • Python 2.5 support looks like its available
    • Installer available
    • Docs seem pretty good
  • PPC Hugs
    • A Haskell (Hugs-based) implementation for WinCE
    • Looks like someone’s school project
    • Marked as alpha quality
    • No idea what actually works
    • Looks like another “It Compiles” projects
    • Doesn’t look like its actively maintained
    • Documentation looks sparse
    • No lazy installer
  • Perl CE
  • WinCE Emacs
    • Okay okay, not REALLY a programming language but… Emacs LISP is close enough…
    • Looks like you’re stuck at Emacs 20.7
    • Not sure keybindings on WinCE device will be liveable for a Emacs neophyte like me
    • Not sure if there is active development to bring more recent Emacs versions
    • Seems to have a lazy installer
    • Emacs Wiki Page on WinCE Emacs

Also has a nice listing of languages you can run on your WinCE device.

Too bad I didn’t find any of the following:

  • OCaml
  • Erlang
  • Common Lisp

So after looking at the choices, I think I’m down to Pocket Scheme, Ruby CE, and Python CE. I guess I’ll try them all and report which one seems like the easiest to just goof around with and get something useful done on a CE device.

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