Quick Facts

  • Leveraged BlackBerry® WebWorks™ SDK to port an Enyo 2.0-based application to the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet.
  • Used Ripple™ emulator tool to package and sign the application.
  • Benefited from straightforward documentation and relationship with Research In Motion® (RIM®)'s development team.

BlackBerry Developer Success Story - JMTK

When Clemson University students Jake Morrison and Taylor Kimmett decided to port Apollo, their webOS Pandora® music application to new platforms, it didn't take long for them to discover everything the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet had to offer. The two developers heard about the straightforward nature of the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK, which creates BlackBerry apps using familiar web technologies such as HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript®, and extends the apps with deep integration into the full device platform. They were really impressed when they experienced the results for themselves in only two hours, they ported the app to the BlackBerry tablet using the cross-platform Enyo JavaScript Application Framework.

Jake and Taylor talked to us about why they made the initial decision to work with the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK, why they think it's important for platforms to support web-based development languages, and how easy it is to package apps with the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet as compared to other platforms.

Q: Why did you initially decide to port your Enyo-based application to the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet?

Jake: A friend of ours had a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and told us about the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK, specifically how it ran with a number of native HTML paths. We also knew that work was being done to make it easy to get Enyo applications running on the BlackBerry platform. Once we decided to give it a try, we found a lot of support available in the developer forums and our contact at Research In Motion helped us get set up with the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK.

Taylor: It also made sense to us that RIM would want to enable applications to be written using HTML5 and JavaScript®, since this approach allows a larger pool of developers to use their existing knowledge and tools to start writing apps. Other platforms tend to use specific languages and promote that their way is the only way to develop apps. I don't think that's a good philosophy because it creates a more segmented developer population.

Q: Describe your experience working with the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK?

Jake: In only two hours, we downloaded the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK and used Enyo 2.0 to package the app for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. RIM was really helpful and clearly explained that you need a signing key because that's what certifies the device. After receiving the signing keys, all we had to do was type in a command-line script on the package directory. At one point, I actually lost the original signing keys, but it turned out to be a good thing because I then used the Ripple emulator tool to package and sign the app. The Ripple emulator tool supports multi-platform HTML5 app development, and is extremely straightforward to use for app development and testing.

Q: How did the packaging process differ between working with the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK and other platforms?

Taylor: Enyo and the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK required very few steps to set up the environment to package the app. We've had a much different experience with other platforms, where SDKs often install plug-ins, which then require you to download the corresponding software development environment or a mobile web framework. There are simply a lot more places where things can go wrong when you go this route. We found that when this happens on other platforms, the process actually made the app's performance more sluggish.

Jake: When you've already developed your app, the last thing you want to do is spend hours reading articles just to get it onto a platform. The hardest part shouldn't be trying to package the app.

On another platform we worked with, we tried to use the forums to learn how to use a mobile web framework to develop the app. But there was no real explanation, which made it much more difficult. On RIM forums, we found that everything is clearly laid out in steps you don't have to jump through hoops to get things done.

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