No BlackBerry Crumble: RIM’s first DevCon Serves up a Tasty Pie

Were it not for a broken boiler that I need to attend to (damn you Potterton) I would have been at RIM’s first Developer Conference in Santa Clara this week. In the wake of yesterday’s unleashing of the Google Android platform and comment already running on ZDNet.

Were it not for a broken boiler that I need to attend to (damn you Potterton) I would have been at RIM’s first Developer Conference in Santa Clara this week. In the wake of yesterday’s unleashing of the Google Android platform and comment already running on ZDNet.co.uk concerning the BlackBerry Application Storefront offering, I wondered if there was yet another slice of pie to feast on.

You wouldn’t expect all those developers to attend a meeting like the one being held this week and not get a new bag of developer tools would you? So as not to disappoint, there was indeed a new BlackBerry JDE Plug-in for Eclipse for creating and testing wireless apps from the Eclipse (IDE). With so many developers these days saying that Eclipse is their, “IDE of choice,” – this must be a sensible move. Possible key feature: pre-processing capabilities for supporting multi-build environments.

There was also the BlackBerry Plug-in 1.1 for Microsoft Visual Studio and BlackBerry MDS Studio 2.0, which (it is suggested) is well suited to the needs of enterprise developers using RAD techniques to mobilise back-end systems.

Colourful by name and colourful by nature, the Plazmic Content Developer’s Kit 4.6 (Plazmic CDK) for the BlackBerry platform was also nestled into RIM’s announcement stack. This jauntily named suite of tools is angled towards graphical content designers to enable (wait for it…) richer and more colourful applications. Good news I’m sure, but I’d still rather here more about usability and I’m not convinced that the best route to improve that is (and I quote), “Unique user interfaces, home screen icons, wallpaper graphics and fonts.”

NB: As a side note with the new BlackBerry Pearl Flip smartphones now available, isn’t it funny how the American market still goes for the whole Star Trek flip-style communicator phone as their “blower” (I believe that is the technical term) of preference? You’d have thought they might have gotten over the whole “Kirk to bridge, we need more power…” routine by now wouldn’t you?

RIM hasn’t specifically said that they’ve upped the resources on their developer portal in line with this first DevCon, but it looks to be a fairly tidy site. I’d class it more towards the Adobe Labs “Here’s a straight FAQ with all the guts” style affair than the rather more bewildering silos of data that rest within the memory banks of some of the IT behemoths out there.

As is always the way with these things, there are far too many pieces of news to mention in one sitting (oh, I get it now, that’s the idea), but also of note perhaps is RIM’s new Web Signals technology which, “Allows online content providers to automatically notify BlackBerry smartphone users when relevant content has been published and to allow streamlined, one-click access to the online information.” Now correct me if I’m wrong, but that sounded like technology designed to improve usability.

There’s also going to be Gears support so RIM is encouraging developers to think about building web apps that can be used both in and out of network coverage. The company said that support for Gears will include local cache, database and multi-threaded JavaScript execution so that web application functions can run in the background.

So when is all this coming? It’s a slightly cloudy, “Planned for availability in 2009,” from RIM at the moment. Positive moves though by and large. Now, where did I leave that number for British Gas?

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