Research In Motion (RIM) has joined the Eclipse Foundation and released a BlackBerry plug-in for Eclipse that provides the ability to develop and debug BlackBerry applications without leaving the familiar Eclipse environment. The announcement came Tuesday at the EclipseCon 2008 conference in Santa Clara, CA.
Until now, RIM's development tool of choice has been a somewhat clunky home-grown IDE. When I tried my hand at BlackBerry programming a couple of years ago, that was my biggest complaint about the platform. But now, applications for BlackBerry, Android, Symbian, Palm, and iPhone (web) can all be created in the Eclipse environment. The only one missing is Windows Mobile.
Early versions of the BlackBerry were programmed in C, similar to Nokia's Symbian platform. Eventually RIM moved to an all-Java system that was based on J2ME with BlackBerry-specific extensions. This allows them to change the underlying architecture on the phones without having to recompile any existing applications. A similar strategy is used in Google's Android.
A beta version of the BlackBerry Eclipse plug-in is available for immediate download.