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Symbian OS Explained Effective C++ Programming for Smartphones
Software engineers live in interesting times: software is becoming pervasive. We all increasingly rely on our personal computers and use their software as an essential tool in organizing our lives. But what we ”see” is just the tip of the iceberg. Most software exists beneath the surface within a variety of embedded systems such as electronic consumer devices, motor cars, and aircraft. Symbian OS is targeted at mobile phones – a class of embedded system that exists in massive volume and which is used by the entire developed world.

The amount of software built into a mobile phone is expanding rapidly. In recent times it has outpaced Moore’s law: in the past three years the amount of embedded software in high-end phones has jumped from about 2MB to 20MB. This is partly required by the sophistication of new 3G networks, but it is mainly due to mobile phones subsuming the functionality of other portable consumer devices, such as digital cameras and camcorders, digital audio players, video players, electronic organizers, mobile gaming consoles, portable radios, portable TVs, email terminals, cordless phones and even electronic payment cards. The mobile phone is becoming the key portable lifestyle support system – an electronic Swiss army knife.

Symbian OS is needed because this explosion in software-supported functionality requires a capable operating system that is designed for sophisticated, always-on, battery-powered mobile devices. The object-oriented programming paradigm of Symbian OS helps manage system complexity and permeates the architecture of Symbian OS. This architecture uses many advanced, but classical, constructs found in other multitasking operating systems. Examples include preemptive multitasking threads, processes, asynchronous services and internal servers for serializing access to shared resources. Symbian OS has some particular features that also need to be understood if one is to become an effective Symbian OS programmer. These distinct features have been designed to cope with the rigorous discipline of mobile device programming, for example, in the handling of asynchronous events and errors, avoiding memory leakages and other dangling resources.

Software engineers moving from the embedded space will probably have to make a transition from C to the object-oriented world of C++. Software engineers moving from the PC space will probably be used to C++, but will not be used to the tougher disciplines of programming for mobile phones where robustness, code size, memory usage, performance and battery life is important, where there are no regular reboots to mop up memory leaks and where the radio increases and enriches the number of events to which applications have to respond.

Whatever your background and level of experience, your effectiveness will be much improved if you read this book and understand the essential Symbian OS concepts.

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