Marco van Hylckama Vlieg
- Leveraged BlackBerry® 10 WebWorks™ SDK, HTML5 and Cascades™ to build three apps
- Discovered Cascades UI tools and HTML5 helped create high performing hybrid apps
- Streamlined development time by not having to ramp up on C++
- Pleased to have hybrid apps that look and perform like native BlackBerry® 10 apps
- Enjoying success with apps selling on the BlackBerry® World™ storefront
BlackBerry Developer Success Story — Marco van Hylckama Vlieg
In his day job, Marco van Hylckama Vlieg is a UI prototyper for a large Internet company in the San Francisco Bay area. In his spare time, Marco's hobby is dreaming up mobile apps that are both inventive and funny. He's been moonlighting since 2001 because he loves the challenge of being the designer, developer and marketer on products that are completely his own. Marco has built apps for iOS® and webOS, and is skilled in HTML5 technologies, as well as PHP and SQL. When he saw the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet a few years ago, he liked the operating system so much, he began focusing on BlackBerry apps. Marco has built "The Last Weather App", "Screamager", and "Scientific RPN Calculator", all of which are available on BlackBerry® 10 devices through BlackBerry® World™. The source code for "The Last Weather App" is available to everyone on GitHub®.
He shares his thoughts how he's created HTML5-Cascades hybrid apps, the advantages of the BlackBerry 10 platform, and why developers should consider building for BlackBerry first.View details in BlackBerry World
Q: Describe how you've evolved in the way you've used various technologies to build your BlackBerry apps?
Marco: "Screamager" and the "Scientific RPN Calculator" started out as webOS apps. But when the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet was announced, I starting playing with it and really liked the operating system. I thought it was next generation technology and I wanted to be on it. So I used the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK to make the apps work on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Then I wanted it to port them to BlackBerry® 7 smartphones, so I used bbUI.js from GitHub — that made my apps have the look and feel of Java®-based BlackBerry 7 apps. When BlackBerry 10 came out, I took an introduction to Cascades and thought I could probably work with it. But it also got me thinking, what if I build the UI with QML and keep the complex parts, like the animation and the preferences, in HTML5? Within a week, I had a version that halfway worked. I didn't take me long to work through the remaining issues. I now describe these apps as HTML5-Cascades hybrids.
Q: Why did you like working with Cascades?
Marco: I really liked the Cascades Qt application framework because it allowed me to make my apps look like native apps. There's virtually no lag anywhere. My calculator looks like a real calculator. I like an app to look like it was custom made for that platform. I think users appreciate that. The funny thing is people always think these apps are native apps for BlackBerry 10 and that's the best compliment of all. I also liked that using Cascades meant I didn't have to port everything to C++. I'm just starting to learn C++, so at this point I didn't want to rewrite a lot.
Q: How did you approach developing The Last Weather App?
Marco: I made a conscious decision to build The Last Weather App in BlackBerry WebWorks. I could have created it in Cascades. But I decided that this was a simple, high-visual-impact app, with a white screen, text and minimalist features. It didn't need the Cascades look and feel; BlackBerry WebWorks would be the best way to achieve what I wanted. This is a case when an exception to the rule was the right way to go. The app uses GPS to take a user's location and display information about the weather for that area in a funny, slightly risqué way. I used a free, third party weather API I found on openweathermap.org because the app itself is free.
The app has a sharing component where you can use BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™), Twitter®, Foursquare® or Facebook® to send your friends a weather update. The sharing aspect is one thing I believe sets BlackBerry apart. The Invocation Framework lets me share a picture across social media without having to write any code — the OS just handles it. And it's always the same sharing experience, whether it's my app or someone else's because it always pulls up that same panel for sharing. That's one of the coolest things about BlackBerry because you can borrow functionality as opposed to reinventing it on every app.
Q: Why do you tell other developers to build for BlackBerry 10?
Marco: I tell other developers that your app has a much better opportunity to stand out on BlackBerry. On other platforms, your app may never get downloaded. But I've had some really good success with my apps on BlackBerry. Considering how new the platform is, I'm really pleased with how quickly my apps have sold and how many reviews I already have. So I say to people that BlackBerry is a platform that deserves a proper look. For something that is brand new, the tools, documentation and the IDE are surprisingly good. I didn't really have to hunt for information. The community is also really strong. You can get help from BlackBerry technical people very easily
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