Mottek: 2003-05-24

IrDA, IrOBEX, Nitro, IC/VC and the Newton

Nitro and IC/VC try to follow the spirit of the original Newton architecture by reusing the existing interfaces you already know (hopefully): The Transports, the Inbox, the Action button and the Routing Slips. Here's an overview:

  • A transport is responsible to send and receive data. Transports are for example Mail, Beam or IrOBEX. You chose a transport via the Action button (the one with the Envelope)
  • The Inbox is used by transports to store incoming data. You can tell which transport put something in the Inbox by looking at the item's icon. If there is an application on the Newton that knows what to do with the item, it will add a "Put Away" choice to the menu behind the Inbox button with the tag on it.
  • The Action button is used to do something to the currently selected item in an application. There are three groups of functions available: Things like Duplicate and Delete, sending via a transport and application defined actions. Sending via a transport works by selecting the item you want to send, choosing the transport from the Action button menu and specifying the sending options in the Routing Slip.
  • The Routing slip is used by transports to get more information necessary for sending an item. This might include the address where to send to (for Mail) or the data format in which the item shall be sent.

Now how does all this apply to IrDA et al.? Quite simple:

  • The transport which Nitro provides is called IrOBEX. IrOBEX is a standard understood by most IrDA capable devices. It is quite similar to HTTP.
  • If you want to receive items via IrOBEX, you'd use the Inbox. There, IrOBEX is offered as a choice in the Receive menu. If you're receiving things from a Windows PC, you have to modify the IrOBEX preferences (accessible in the Inbox [i] menu) to use OBEX:IrXfer. This is because Microsoft sucks and doesn't like to conform to standards.
  • The Action button is what you use to send items via IrOBEX. Just select the item to be sent and chose IrOBEX from the Action button menu.
  • The Routing slip comes into play if you have installed IC/VC. IC/VC offers the iCalendar/vCalendar and vCard data formats. You should use these if you want to import the data into the peer devices's applications, e.g. an address book or calendar application.
  • IC/VC also adds the capability to put away vCalendar, iCalendar, vCard and Newton packages from the Inbox after they have been received via IrOBEX. Please check the IC/VC preferences in the Inbox (under the [i] menu) to specify what should happen if there are conflicts between received items and items already on the Newton.

Some examples:

  • You want to send a Names entry to your T68i. You open Names and select the entry to be sent. Then you tap the Action button and select IrOBEX. Because you want to use the entry in the address book on the phone, you select vCard as the data format in the Routing slip. Then you tap on Send, select Now and point your Newton to the T68i which has IrDA reception enabled.
  • You want to receive a calendar entry from your phone. First, you open the Inbox. Then you select IrOBEX from the Receive menu. Point your phone to the Newton and initiate sending from the phone. After the item has been received, tap on the Tag button and chose Put Away. In the following dialog, chose IC/VC as the target.
  • You want to export all your Names entries to your desktop PC via email. You select all Names entries in Names, tap on the Action button and chose Mail as the transport. You fill out the necessary fields in the following Routing slip, select vCard as the data format and tap on Send. The email will be one vCard file which you can save as one file on the desktop PC and import it into programs that know how to deal with vCard files. Microsoft programs don't fall into this category because they can't handle more than one vCard in one file (there are however workarounds).