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Application Interop

August 29, 2003

I recieved my new phone (a Sony Ericsson t610) yesterday. Today (at 1:30am) I got my contacts imported.

The story starts with my old phone, a Nokia 8310. On it I had a fair few contacts, all of which I didn't want to loose (especially those girls who gave me their numbers last week ;)). Nokia provides a very robust data suite, with which I was able to synchronize my contacts via infra-red to my PC. So far so good.

Sony Ericsson provide a program called XTNDConnect PC. This synchronizes Outlook data with the phone. Well, ok, not the best protocol, but good enough. So i'm left with a challenge. A phone with no data on it, my outlook contacts db, which has a few thousand email contacts (many i barely know, and don't need in my phone), and my old cell phone db, stored away within the Nokia Data Suite.


I decided to export the Nokia Data into a CSV file. However, this produced results that looked as if someone had sat on the comma key:


not only that, but contacts that contained more than one word were out of sync. In short, it was a mess. My first stop was to try importing the data into Outlook -- but where to put it?

I copied my contacts folder to a backup, and imported directly into contacts (after spending time installing the csv 'translator' into outlook). This resulted in a bunch of gobbledy-gook. No good to export to my phone.

Thinking about it, I took the data, and compressed the duplicate commas, giving me something like this:


Well, ok, we still have duplicate numbers, but it's better than nothing. From there, it was into php for a quick routine to process the data. (yeah, perl would have done the job better -- probably python too -- it's just about how well you know the tools of the trade)

Starting with an explode or two, and a foreach, I setup my script to process the data one line at a time. No good! PHP doesn't (yet) allow for recursive foreach. I had to settle for an arraywalk to collate the data...

Once I was done, I had a clean CSV file to import into Outlook. One import later, and my data was clean and ready to export to my phone.

10 minutes later, and my phone is now populated with my contacts db.

Well, two apps, a scripting language, and irda. all this hassle to sync up my phone book. Does it really need to be that hard? why can't Sony Ericsson and Nokia and Samsung and Motorolla and all the rest just share a common format, and then exporting would be a matter of pointing the two phone's irda at each other?

At least it's done, one medium hack later. It could totally have been avoided, however.


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I think SonyEricsson has tried to. I know that they can send between the ones that support, ALL contact list items via Infared or Bluetooth.
So I could from my T68i transfer all contacts to my next SonyEricsson phone via Bluetooth f.ex.
There were some other vendors who supported multiple vCards as well, forgot which ones though.

How do you like your T610 so far?

It's good -- quite a nice phone overall. A bit slow, but then again, it does more than my previous phone.

-- j

Have you done anymore development with Ericsson phones? Bluetooth or IrDa integration or serial cable stuff ... for importing/exporting and getting the phone to do things that usually require some sort of bloated software package?

If so, I'd love to hear about your work and progress ... and maybe pick your brain a bit if you don't mind ... email me with your reply, if any.



Wow. I just got one of those on Monday! Pretty amazing little gadget. If it had a text reader, I wouldn't hardly need my Clie.

Hey James,

I've read your blog for a little while now, but just ran into this post. A few friends and I have been working on this problem for a while, and I'm now looking for some people to help me test it out in Europe.

It's a website where you can add contacts to your mobile phone. You can either do it through the site or even just email contacts to your phone. We just launched a beta in the UK, Ireland, France and Germany and I'm trying to find people who would be interested in trying it out.


If you're interested or if you have any problems trying it out, feel free to contact me directly.


I think samsung is one of the best