Consuming Web Services in Mobile Applications

This tutorial describes how you can use NetBeans IDE to create a mobile client application that consumes a web service. You will create an application that fetches the daily Dilbert comic strip via a live on-line web service, converts the graphics to a space-saving format, and displays the strip on a mobile device.

In this tutorial, you first create a web service client in a mobile application to connect to the on-line DailyDilbert service. You are then shown how to use the Visual MIDlet Designer to graphically design the layout of your application. Next, you add code that transforms the comic's graphic format from GIF to PNG, which is the format that mobile devices support. Finally, you use an emulator to see the daily strip in the IDE.


  Content on this page applies to the NetBeans 6.0 IDE

Software Needed for the Tutorial

Before you begin, you need to download or install the following software on your computer:

Creating the Web Service Client

First, we'll create a new Web Application project. The project will contain our web service client.

  1. Choose File > New Project. From Categories, choose Web. From Projects, choose Web Application. Click Next.
  2. Name the project DilbertWebApplication and choose Java EE 5, as shown below.
  3. New Web Application wizard

  4. Click Finish to let the IDE create the application.

The application is created and looks as follows in the Projects window:

Mobile application

Using the Web Service Client Wizard

Now we'll add a web service client to consume the DailyDiblert service.

  1. Right-click the DilbertWebApplication project node and choose New > Web Service Client. Alternatively, you can also select this wizard from the New File wizard, as shown here:
  2. New Web Application wizard

    The Web Service Client wizard appears.

  3. Select WSDL URL and enter the following URL:

  4. Name the package dilbert. You should now see the following:
  5. Web Service Client wizard

  6. Click Finish.

The IDE downloads the WSDL file and creates the client-side artifacts, which you can see in the build folder, within the Files window. The Projects window displays the logical view as shown here:

Projects window

Creating the Mobile Client

In this section, we'll create a new Mobile Application project. We then use the Mobile Client to Web Application wizard to connect the application to the DailyDiblert service.

  1. Choose File > New Project. From Categories, choose Mobility. From Projects, choose MIDP Application, as shown below:
  2. Mobile application

    Click Next.

  3. If you have not registered a Java ME MIDP Platform Emulator, you now see this dialog:
  4. Mobile application


    When you click Install SDK/Platform/Emulator, you see the following dialog, where you should click Java ME MIDP Platform Emulator:

    Mobile application

    Complete the wizard to install the emulator.

  5. Enter DilbertViewer as the Project Name and uncheck the Create Hello MIDlet check box.
  6. Mobile application

  7. Click Finish to create the MIDlet.

The mobile application is created and looks as follows in the Projects window:

Mobile application

Using the Mobile Client to Web Application Wizard

The Mobile Client to Web Application wizard generates a servlet that connects to a web application that includes a web service client.

  1. In the Projects window, right-click the DilbertViewer project node and choose New > Mobile Client to Web Application, as shown below:
  2. Mobile application

    Click Next.

  3. DibertWebApplication should be listed as the Web application. Change the Servlet name to DilbertServlet and name the package dilbert. For Mobile Client Uses, select Web Service Client in Web Application and select DailyDiblert.asmx, as shown here:
  4. Mobile application

    Click Next.

  5. Select DailyDilbertImage, as shown below:
  6. Mobile application

    Click Next.

  7. Change the Client Name to DilbertViewer, within a package named dilbert, as below:
  8. Mobile application

  9. Click Finish.

The new artifacts are created and the Projects window now displays the application's logical view, as below:

Mobile application

Creating the Visual MIDlet

In this section, you will create a visual MIDlet and use the designer to add components and connect them to each other.

  1. Right-click the project node and choose New > Visual MIDlet.
  2. Name the file DilbertVisualMIDlet and specify dilbert as the package name, as shown below:
  3. Mobile application

    Click Finish.

    A new visual MIDlet file is created and is opened in the Visual MIDlet Designer.

  4. Now use the Palette (Ctrl-Shift-8) to drag and drop an Alert component and a Wait Screen component onto the canvas, as follows:
  5. Mobile application

    You can put the components anywhere you like on the designer.

In the next section, we will create a new component and add it to the palette. Then we will drag it onto the designer. Next, we will connect the components to each other to establish the relationships between them.

Creating the Canvas Component

In this section, we'll create a custom canvas component to display the graphic file.

  1. Right-click on the DilbertViewer project node and choose New > Other. Under Categories, choose MIDP. Under File Types, choose MIDP Canvas, as shown here:
  2. Mobile application

    Click Next.

  3. Enter DilbertCanvas for the MIDP Class Name and dilbert for the package name. Click Finish.
  4. Open the newly created file in the IDE and insert code so it looks as follows:
  5. package dilbert;
    import javax.microedition.lcdui.Canvas;
    import javax.microedition.lcdui.Graphics;
    import javax.microedition.lcdui.Image;
    public class DilbertCanvas extends Canvas {
        private int coordX,  coordY;
        private int imageWidth,  imageHeight;
        private Image image;
        private int screenWidth,  screenHeight;
        /** Creates a new instance of DilbertCanvas */
        public DilbertCanvas() {
            screenHeight = getHeight();
            screenWidth = getWidth();
        public void setImage(Image image) {
            this.imageWidth = image.getWidth();
            this.imageHeight = image.getHeight();
            this.image = image;
        protected void paint(Graphics graphics) {
            graphics.setColor(255, 255, 255);
            graphics.fillRect(0, 0, getWidth(), getHeight());
            graphics.drawImage(image, coordX, coordY, Graphics.LEFT | Graphics.TOP);
        protected void keyPressed(int keyCode) {
            int key = getGameAction(keyCode);
            if (key == DOWN) {
                if (coordY - screenHeight + imageHeight > 0) {
                    coordY -= 10;
            } else if (key == UP) {
                if (coordY < 0) {
                    coordY += 10;
            } else if (key == RIGHT) {
                if (coordX - screenWidth + imageWidth > 0) {
                    coordX -= 10;
            } else if (key == LEFT) {
                if (coordX < 0) {
                    coordX += 10;
  6. Right-click DilbertCanvas and choose Build Project. You have now built and compiled the canvas component.

In the next section, we add the component to the palette and then we drag it from there and drop it on the designer.

Adding the Canvas Component to the Palette

Next, you add the canvas component to the palette and then you incorporate the canvas component into the application.

  1. Open the DilbertVisualMIDlet file in the editor and then open the Palette (Ctrl-Shift-8). Right-click in the Palette and choose Palette Manager. The Palette Manager appears, as shown below:
  2. Mobile application

  3. Click on Add to Palette. The Add to Palette wizard appears, as shown below, displaying the mobile application that contains the Java class that you want to add to the palette:
  4. Mobile application

    Click Next.

  5. Select dilbert.DilbertCanvas.
  6. Mobile application

    Click Finish.

  7. Check that you see the addition of the canvas class, as shown below:
  8. Mobile application

Using the Canvas Component

  1. Open the visual MIDlet and the Palette (Ctrl-Shift-8). Drag the DilbertCanvas item from the Custom category in the Palette into the designer.
  2. Mobile application

  3. Right-click on the dropped canvas component and choose New/Add > OK command, as shown below:
  4. Mobile application

    In the Navigator (Ctrl-7), you should now see the following:

    Mobile application

  5. Create a flow between the components by connecting them as follows:

  6. At this point, you should see the following:

    Mobile application

  7. Switch to the Source view and change the getTask() method as shown below in bold:
  8.    private byte[] dailyDilbertImage_returnValue;     
       public SimpleCancellableTask getTask() {
            if (task == null) {                                 
                // write pre-init user code here
                task = new SimpleCancellableTask();                                   
                task.setExecutable(new org.netbeans.microedition.util.Executable() {
                    public void execute() throws Exception {                                 
                        if (dailyDilbertImage_returnValue == null) {
                            DilbertViewer client = new DilbertViewer();
                            dailyDilbertImage_returnValue = client.dailyDilbertImage();
                            Image dilbertImage = Image.createImage(dailyDilbertImage_returnValue, 0, dailyDilbertImage_returnValue.length);
            // write post-init user code here
            return task;

Transforming the Image

Now we have a client application to receive the daily image. But the received image is in GIF format, which is much too large for mobile devices with limited memory. So we'll need to transform the image to the PNG format, which is smaller and more easily sized for the many different display sizes available to mobile devices.

  1. Open the DailyDilbert_Proxy file, shown below:
  2. Mobile application

  3. Change the dailyDilbertImage() method by adding the highlighted code below:
    public byte[] dailyDilbertImage() throws RemoteException, Exception {
        try {
            ByteArrayInputStream in = new ByteArrayInputStream(getService().getDailyDilbertSoap().dailyDilbertImage());
            BufferedImage image =;
            ByteArrayOutputStream out = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
            ImageIO.write(image, "png", out);
            return out.toByteArray();
        } catch (java.rmi.RemoteException ex) {
            throw ex;
        } catch (Exception ex) {
            throw ex;

Deploying the Application

First we deploy the web application. Then we run the mobile application.

  1. In the Projects window, right-click the DilbertWebApplication and choose Deploy Application. After a moment, the server starts up, if it is not already running. Then the application deploys to the server. To see it deployed, look in the Services window, as below:
  2. Emulator, displaying Dilbert.

  3. Right-click the mobile project and choose Run. The mobile application runs. A device emulator opens. In the device emulator screen, click the button under Launch. Then click the Select button. The application will go out to the internet and return the latest Dilbert strip, as shown below:
  4. Emulator, displaying Dilbert.


This tutorial showed how you can use the Mobile Client to Web Application to quickly create a MIDlet that consumes a Web service.

It also demonstrated how you can create a custom component and add it to your application using the Visual Mobile Designer.

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Next Steps

In addition to the IDE's built-in help documentation about Java ME CDC development, tutorials and articles about the technologies supported by the Mobility pack can be found at the following location: