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BlackBerry 6 and the SDK Land

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This week, Research In Motion released the sixth BlackBerry platform, which is aimed at bringing the company's handsets into alignment with iPhone and Android technologies.  Along with this release, developers finally have a chance to get their hands on the BlackBerry 6 Java SDK and work on building apps for the company's new OS.  One of the major improvements to the OS is the inclusion of a WebKit browser.  One blogger's tests had BB's new browser beating the iPhone 4 and Android 2.1.


This SDK is loaded with pre-built UI elements such as activity progress indicators, pop-up menus, tables, pane managers, and toolbars.  The new APIs will help you customize these elements to build things like context-sensitive pop-up menus, or custom tables.


First, the scores:  Acid3 score is a perfect 100 / 100, and the CSS3 Selectors score is perfect too - 574 / 574.  The HTML5 test score is 208 / 300, but remember that total compliance isn't possible yet.  The browser has a redesigned start page, a unified URL search bar, tabbed browsing, pinch-to-zoom, and automatic content adjustment.


The browser can also load data locally so that you can access it if your connection goes sour.  It also stores the resources required to run your web-based apps without connectivity.  Another nifty feature is the ability to create scripts so that web apps can run in the background when the browser is closed.


Apps can be integrated with new functionality in BB 6, including a Universal Search feature, redesigned mapfield, and multi-screen mapfields.  The SDK also supports WiFi geolocation functionality and has travel time APIs. 

For more info on this release and an in-depth look at the APIs, check out the BB 6 Javadocs.


Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Fri, 2010/08/06 - 1:16pm

I work on Linux. I'm handy on it, and I have tons of scripts and tools that lets me do my work efficiently. Occasionally I have to write something for mobiles. When I had to write an prototype for the Blackberry, it was less than ideal. Although a lot of the development tools that RIM provides are clearly written in Java, they wrapped it in .exe's and only worked for Windows. I got *very* frustrated by the whole development process. I could not run the Blackberry emulator, so I was forced to upload a new version of my software upon every development cycle, when testing Blackberry issues (screen, buttons, etc). For main application business logic type stuff, I could use a different emulator. But every time I had to upload to the blackberry, to get it to run was very tedious. Upload, then go to media player, select app, select install, then a few more dialog boxes, and then *long* wait times. 1 to 3 minutes to install. Often, it would require a reboot, which takes ridiculously long, another 2 minutes. At times, I had to first uninstall an application, sometimes requiring another reboot, then install, and more reboots. Other times no reboot was required. Then there were mysterious error codes, without any reasonable explanation. Long story short: developing for the Blackberry was one of the most horrible development experiences that I have every encountered. My highly outdated Nokia was so much easier to develop for. Upload, and run. It just worked without the crap. So, the screenshot of the new SDK, another Windows screenshot. RIM being a Windows centric development shop, obviously (even though they use Java, wth?), are things better now this time around or can I expect the same endless frustrations? Should I just not bother and migrate our future projects to Android based mobiles?

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