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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Pagination in ASP.NET 1.x Mobile Applications

Introduction
Even for experienced ASP.NET developers, authoring mobile Web applications can be tricky. Many of the facilities and features that make ASP.NET 1.x such a great platform on which to develop great apps are available in the mobile venue through the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit (MMIT). The MMIT includes built-in features for preserving data through view state and session state, caching, and centralized configuration. However, the means by which the MMIT accomplishes these ends is not always as you might expect. The challenges presented by the MMIT are due to the very important differences between desktop Web and mobile Web platforms. It's essential for astute ASP.NET programmers to be aware of these differences and how they can affect the behavior of their applications.

One such major difference is that in a desktop-based Web browser, the end user can view all of the Web page's data at once. For mobile devices, however, there is often limited screen real estate. Cell phones, for example, might only allow a dozen lines of text to be viewed at a time. In order to send the appropriate amount of data to a mobile browser, the MMIT uses a technique known as pagination, which breaks up the returned content into correctly-sized chunks. In this article we'll examine MMIT's pagination features and how they affect mobile application development.

Paging in Mobile Web Applications
Paging in mobile Web applications is largely variable and dependent upon the individual device and the server settings of a service provider. As an example of the former, one of my site's 15,000-character news articles may either be read entirely on a single scrollable WAP page on a smartphone, but may be paged seven times on a smaller-resolution cellular phone that can only handle 35 lines of data per screen. As an example of service provider limitations, a local cellular service provider constrains the size of content that can be sent down to the client to about 1,300 characters per virtual page.

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