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Caution: Depending on your application s internationalization language needs, the humanreadable label may not be in the language you wish to display. Contacts usually have the most complex data structure, and are the only type of item that uses attributes. Use PIMItem.ATTR_NONE whenever you work with fields that do not support attributes. At runtime, you can query a PIMList about the fields it supports. getSupportedFields() returns an array of integers, with each integer corresponding to an enumerated field value, such as Event.START or ToDo.PRIORITY. You can use this to determine whether to provide or display values for particular fields. BlackBerry offers consistent support for particular sets of fields, so it is less important to check for fields if your app will only run on BlackBerry devices. However, you should do this if you plan to run it on other devices as well. You can also look up the data type, label, maximum number of values, and attributes for a field, as shown in the following code.
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int[] supportedFields = contacts.getSupportedFields(); for (int i = 0; i < supportedFields.length; ++i) { int field = supportedFields[i]; String label = contacts.getFieldLabel(field); int type = contacts.getFieldDataType(field); int[] attributes = contacts.getSupportedAttributes(field); for (int j = 0; j < attributes.length; ++j) { int attribute = attributes[j]; String attrLabel = contacts.getAttributeLabel(attribute); } }
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Support for fields is consistent across all the items in a given list. You will never have one Contact that supports a birthday and another that doesn't. However, not every field will necessarily have a value. In some cases, a field may be mandatory, meaning it cannot be stored without having some value. When this happens, an initial default is usually provided that your app can choose to overwrite.
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Contacts are probably the most complex item in the PIM database. They certainly have the greatest number of fields, and are the only items that support field attributes. Contacts are also likely to be the most widely used piece of personal information. Access to contacts can greatly enhance the usefulness of your app, so understanding their structure is important.
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A contact is an entity with whom you can communicate. Contacts are most often people, but may also include companies, automated response lines, or other things. At a minimum, we are likely to assign a name to each contact, whether it is Bob or Apress or That one weird guy who s always in the coffee shop. Around that name, we attach a lot of associations and information. In the world of PIM, we can quantify a lot of that information into data. People have phone numbers, so we enter that into the contact record. We further distinguish between a person s fax number, their work number, and their mobile number. Any individual contact may have multiple versions of the same type of data, and be missing other types of data entirely. Figure 6-4 shows the set of fields included for a hypothetical item in the address book.
Figure 6-4. Data fields provided by a contact
This data is extremely malleable. People might change their address when they move, change their name when they marry, and change their photo when they grow a beard. The contact record remains the same, because it refers to the same entity, but the fields within it may change entirely.
Representing a Contact
Prior to the creation of the PIM API, a consortium of technology companies defined a standard format for contact data. This standard is called vCard, and you might have seen them attached to emails or included in web pages. A vCard stores information about a particular entity in a well-structured format that can be parsed by any
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CHAPTER 6: Personal Information
application. The most widely used format is vCard 2.1, created in 1996, while the most advanced version is vCard 3.0. A sample vCard is shown below.
BEGIN:VCARD VERSION:2.1 N:Maas;Oedipa FN: Oedipa Maas ORG:Inverarity Estate TITLE:Executor TEL;WORK;VOICE:(818) 555-0144 TEL;HOME;VOICE:(707) 555-0135 ADR;WORK:;;400 Inverarity Drive;San Narciso;CA; 91340;United States of America LABEL;WORK;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE: 400 Inverarity Drive =0D= San Narciso, CA 91340=0D=0AUnited States of America ADR;HOME:;;303 Palm Avenue; Kinneret;CA; 95418;United States of America LABEL;HOME;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE: 303 Palm Avenue =0D= Kinneret, CA 95418 =0D=0AUnited States of AmericaStates of America EMAIL;PREF; END:VCARD
Although a vCard is a useful standard for data interchange, the actual storage will hopefully not look anything like this. Each contact will most likely be broken apart and stored in a compact database. The vCard specification includes a large number of fields that are highly unlikely to actually be used on a mobile device, such as LOGO and AGENT fields. The standard also allows anyone to create additional fields by prefixing them with an X-. Some nonstandard fields that have gained widespread adoption include XANNIVERSARY and X-SKYPE-USERNAME. Some of these fields might be useful on a mobile phone, while others won t. The PIM Contact API was derived from vCard 3, and selected a subset of fields from the standard that were believed to be the most useful. However, each individual manufacturer could decide which of those fields to implement. There is usually a 1 1 correlation between the fields exposed in the Java PIM API and what is shown by a device s native contacts app. If there is no Assistant entry in the address book, the API doesn t need to bother supporting Contact.ASSISTANT. This allows for far better efficiency in storing contact information in the device s native format.
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