BlackBerry Applications - Five Keys To Getting Started With BlackBerry Programming

Published: 27th June 2008
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As BlackBerry devices increase their share of the market, software developers are attracted to the BlackBerry platform and wonder if it's worth their investment in time and effort to create BlackBerry applications. After all, significant effort is required to develop commercial applications for any mobile platform. The BlackBerry platform is very different, too, adding to the development cost. Here are some facts on creating BlackBerry applications.

1. Java is the only choice for BlackBerry software development. Unless you're writing browser-based applications, Java is your only choice of programming language. You can't write applications in C or C++, so don't even bother going there. (The very earliest models of the BlackBerry supported C/C++, but the platform switched to Java exclusively several years ago.)

2. Java ME (Micro Edition) is the version of Java. The BlackBerry's Java support is for a stripped-down version of Java called Java ME designed for mobile phones and other constrained devices. Porting code is a challenge: although the language is the same (most features are supported), the class libraries are vastly different -- mostly because they're much smaller.

3. There are many BlackBerry-specific classes to learn. The Java ME class library is small, so the BlackBerry augments it with a number of device-specific APIs, including the graphical user interface APIs. You need to learn these APIs to write "real" BlackBerry applications.

4. Testing on real devices is required. This shouldn't be any surprise to anyone who's done mobile application development before, but it's even truer on the BlackBerry platform. The BlackBerry simulator can easily give you a false sense of security when testing your application features, especially the networking aspects. There's nothing like testing it on a real device. Preferably, several real devices.

5. You need to understand the BlackBerry infrastructure. BlackBerry programming isn't just about understanding Java and the BlackBerry APIs, it's also about understanding the entire BlackBerry infrastructure, from the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) to the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) and everything in between.

Like anything, BlackBerry programming is a programming specialization developed over time. It's not nearly as simple as it seems at first, as many developers have discovered to their dismay.

BlackBerry Programming publishes one software developer's views on BlackBerry software development and BlackBerry consulting.

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