Beginning BlackBerry Development

BlackBerry OS is the mobile operating system used for BlackBerry smartphones.  Customized new apps or integrating and porting already existing apps to your BlackBerry device, is a part of BlackBerry application solutions. It helps in the migration of app, from J2ME to BlackBerry, mobile PDA embedded wireless technologies and other internet-based solutions. The stable platform of BlackBerry makes it a leading competitor in the development of games.

The BlackBerry Java Development Environment (JDE), which combines an SDK, an IDE, and a set of simulators, has difficulties for developers. This Swing-based application gets the job done, but it employs a user interface that screams 1994, perplexing debugging, and inconsistent keyboard shortcuts. It does offer the advantage of a single download that contains all you need to develop and debug on the simulator and the device, but using it can be quite painful. Each JDE version is tied to a particular version of the BlackBerry OS. So, for example, if you wish to target a device running OS 5.0, you would download JDE version 5.0. You have to be aware that all BlackBerry Java applications are forward-compatible. An application written using the 4.2 version of the JDE will run on a 5.0 device, but an application written on the 5.0 JDE may not run on a 4.2 device.

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Because of the JDE’s shortcomings, developers have often turned to their own preferred IDEs, such as NetBeans or IntelliJ IDEA. Because most BlackBerry applications are written in Java, you can use any Java editor to write your application code. However, other IDEs typically do not integrate well with debugging, and they require custom plugins or scripts to build and debug BlackBerry applications.

The BlackBerry simulators get mixed reviews, however. On a positive note, they tend to be very accurate. The behavior you see on the simulator will usually match what you would see on the device. On the downside, the simulators are painfully slow. To ensure their accuracy, they fully simulate every aspect of the device, including a very lengthy boot-up process. Depending on the speed of your development machine and the particular simulator you use, it easily can take several minutes to start debugging. Also, when you make any changes to your program, you will need to restart the entire process; the simulators do not support hot-swapping code.

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BlackBerry App Development Tools

Which tool you use to develop an enterprise app depends on which platforms you need to support. You could develop a native app for each platform, but creating and maintaining multiple apps is a lot of work. You probably want a development tool that supports cross-platform development.

1.      Apache Cordova

Apache Cordova is the platform on which the BlackBerry 10 WebWorks SDK is built. It uses HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

2.      Adobe PhoneGap

PhoneGap is built on Apache Cordova. It uses HTML and JavaScript.

3.      Ionic

This tool is an advanced HTML5 hybrid mobile app framework.

4.      Angular Material

It is an implementation of Material Design in Angular.js. This project provides a set of reusable, well-tested, and accessible UI components based on the Material Design system.

5.      jQuery Mobile

jQuery Mobile is an HTML5-based user interface system designed to make responsive web sites and apps that are accessible on all smartphone, tablet and desktop devices.

6.      Sencha

Sencha offers an HTML5 product suite for building mobile apps.

Which platforms are used to develop a BlackBerry app?

1.      Native

2.      HTML5

3.      Adobe AIR

4.      Runtime for Android

BlackBerry Programming Languages

BlackBerry devices use a superset of the Java ME language, which itself is a subset of the Java language. If you have programmed in Java ME before, you will see that all the core Java ME features are available. BlackBerry devices also include many of the most popular JSRs, adding features such as file connections, media recording, and playback, wireless messaging, and more.

If you have previously written Java on the desktop or the server, you may be disappointed with BlackBerry Java. Java ME is compatible with Java 1.3 and does not include many of the nicer features added to the language during the past decade, such as generics, enumerations, and regular expressions. It also lacks some features that were present in Java 1.3, such as collections and reflection.

RIM has enhanced the basic Java ME legacy of BlackBerry development with a very rich set of custom APIs. Many offers feature specific to mobile devices, including information about cell towers, battery levels, and so on. They also include some very useful features that are in standard Java but not in Java ME.

Like all modern mobile platforms, BlackBerry also supports web applications. All BlackBerry phones accept standard HTML as well as legacy WAP pages. The BlackBerry Browser offers JavaScript, although different devices have different levels of support.

BlackBerry Widgets are written using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and they provide lightweight applications that can be installed to the device. They can access an extensive JavaScript API for BlackBerry, and you can further enhance them by writing custom JavaScript libraries that access native Java APIs.

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BlackBerry devices

All BlackBerry devices are smartphones, which means that they offer a network connection, a relatively powerful processor, and a decent keyboard. However, individual devices can vary greatly. BlackBerry devices have traditionally featured full QWERTY keyboards, and most still do. The Pearl line of phones uses a variant keyboard called SureType that acts like a cross between QWERTY and a multi-tap phone keyboard. The Storm series of touch-screen phones use a virtual on-screen keyboard. Most non-touch devices use a trackball, and some recent devices offer a trackpad.

All recent devices feature microphones and removable memory cards for expanded storage. Some devices may include features like cameras, accelerometers, and Bluetooth, while others lack them. If your application requires particular hardware support, you should first verify which BlackBerry devices offer your required features. No BlackBerry devices currently offer a compass, although they do provide ways to derive the user’s bearings from recent GPS readings.

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