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How to write your first BlackBerry application – Lesson 1: UI fields

July 17, 2009 Leave a comment

software development

This article is the first in a series of articles about BlackBerry development. With App World, third party software vendors and the web, there are a ton of opportunities for an independent developer to make money.

BlackBerry Development in Java – Lection 1: Basic fields in the User Interface

Let’s get right into it. Download the JDE (Java Development Environment) from the BlackBerry website. I personally used the JDE 4.3 for this project but you can also download a newer JDE. For advanced functions like using the BlackBerry Storm accelerometer or touch screen, you have to install JDE 4.7.

For advanced features and other APIs you may want to use, you need code-signing keys from RIM. You can purchase signing keys here. The keys cost $20 which is a bargain considering you can use the keys forever, and they’re going to help you make a great BlackBerry application. Make sure to read more about the keys because they’re an important part of BlackBerry development.

For this introductory application, you don’t need signature keys and the compiled *.cod file can be run on the device (and not only on the simulator).

How to setup the JDE:

After installation of the JDE, launch it and then click on:

    1. File -> New
    2. Workspaces – Tab
    3. Name it Lections
    4. Click OK

Then on the left side in the JDE, you see the Tab Files. Click on:

    1. Lections.jdw (Right click)
    2. Select Create new Project
    3. Name it Lection_1
    4. Copy the two files GreetingScreen.java and HelloWorld.java into the same folder where the Lesson_1.jdp file is (the main project folder)
    5. Click on Add File to Project and select both *.java files
    6. Now both *.java files appear under Lection_1
    7. Click on those in the list to open them up in the JDE
    8. Now you’re ready to go, you have successfully imported the files and can now work with them.
    9. Press F7 to compile the application or press F5 to run the application on the simulator.
    10. The application is compiled to a *.cod file.
    11. The *.alx file (for Desktop Manager installation) needs to be created manually by the user:
    1. Right click on Lection_1 and then on Generate ALX file.
    2. Now the *.alx file is created and the application can be installed via Desktop Manager.
    3. The *.alx file and the *.cod file have to be in the same folder for installation.

That’s how the ‘Files’ should look like on the left side of the screen:

BlackBerry Development 1

The *.java Files:

We have two *.java files for our Project. The one is the HelloWorld.java file and the other one is the GreetingScreen.java file.

The HelloWorld.java file does the following:

You want your application to show the user a graphical user interface; that’s why you need your HelloWorld class to extend the UiApplication class. The UiApplication class can be found here in the APIs: net.rim.device.api.ui.UiApplication.

A BlackBerry application always starts with the main() method. In the main() method the first thing that happens is that an instance is created by calling the constructor. The constructor uses the UiApplication class to use the pushScreen() method to show the GreetingScreen.

The GreetingScreen.java file is a bit more complicated but if you follow the comments then you will soon find out what it does.

So what does the application actually do?

This is the main screen of the application; it contains a ButtonField, a Title, a LabelField, a SeparatorField and an EditField.

BlackBerry development lesson 1

When you click on the Button, then it displays a message with the name you entered in the EditField.

BlackBerry development

And when you quit the application then it also shows a message with the text from the field.

BlackBerry development

If you still have questions, just follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/FabianMH

ED NOTE: Check out Fabian’s software page. He’s got some useful apps to improve your BlackBerry experience, as well as some cool BlackBerry Storm software.

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How to develop and market a 3rd party BlackBerry app

July 17, 2009 Leave a comment
Posted by Fabian M. Heuwieser

Comments: one response

BlackBerry developers conference
Image courtesy of Simon Sage

As a BlackBerry developer, I have my own ideas about what makes a great BlackBerry application. I took the time to develop a list of concepts that I believe are important in the development process.

1. The User Interface (UI)

It’s vital to choose an appealing and not too over-done and crowded user interface. For the user it is essential to know from only looking at the interface what he has to do and how he sets the options in the application. Give your fields, check boxes and radio buttons appropriate titles or subjects. Short, descriptive words are a must.

I have already seen some utility apps where the UI is awfully crowded in the main screen. You look at all the options and feel like de-installing it because you will never know what all those buttons and checkbox do. Match similar options and put them into a separate screen with an appropriate title. Think about the novice BlackBerry-user, they don’t know all those settings and what they will do when you select them.

Even though I talked about an appealing and nicely looking UI, you cannot compare the iPhone user interface of applications to the rather sober-looking interface of BlackBerry apps. The BlackBerry OS is not aimed at fancy looking UI-Applications; it keeps the business factor. Personally, I love it!

2. The Application Description on the Reseller’s Channel

a. The short description
b. The long and informative description
c. Screenshots and/or link to YouTube Video
d. The application icon
e. A Trial Version

All those 5 individual representations of your application are extremely important. Each of these display your application to a potential buyer. Depending on how you structure them, it could sway the customer’s opinion.

Here is a breakdown of each criteria:

a) The short description:
Keep it short and simple but on the spot, no redundant words or funky looking characters. No one finds an application appealing or professional when it contains ASCII Art such as (_.-^My APP^-._)

b) The long description:
It’s vital that the application description in the reseller’s channel, may it be MobiHand or the BlackBerry AppWorld, looks attractive and striking to the customer. There are some descriptions on the MobiHand network that really turn me off before actually looking at the application itself.

Make sure you use compelling keywords and accurate descriptions to highlight your application. Write in paragraphs so that the potential buyer doesn’t see a huge, massive block of words which can be a turn-off.

Again, don’t use ASCII Art or something similar (eg. ====>>>> Best APPLICATION < <<<====). State what the application does, what the advantages are and how you personally could find a use in it. If your mother tongue isn’t English or you are not sure about the grammar and spelling, get it proof-read by someone who is. Typing errors or misleading sentences do not contribute to the professionalism of the application.

c) Screenshots and/or videos
Screenshots are one of the most important application descriptions since a picture is worth a thousand words. Through a screenshot, the potential buyer gets insight into the application prior downloading or installing it. Make sure your screenshots show the important and relevant screens of your application and are good quality, not pixelized or scaled wrong.

For some time now, the MobiHand network has allowed developers to submit videos as well as screenshots. That is an awesome addition because an application walk-through video can show the user how it actually feels to use the application and how it runs. Often videos are used instead of trial versions.

d) The application icon
The application icon might be small but it has immense power. The more professional your icon looks, the better your application is presented. It’s important to use a transparent icon that is not too big or too small for the device you write the application for. On the newer devices you can use roll-over icons which change its appearance when you scroll over them or touch them as per the BlackBerry Storm. Other applications, like Weather apps, use the application icon to represent application data – may it be the current weather or the temperature.

e) A Trial Version
Trial versions are the most important representations of your (commercial) application. They provide the user with a view of the application without spending only one cent on it. Through a trial version you can test if the application actually runs on your device, if you are comfortable with it and most important: if you actually use that app. Most applications have a 7-day trial period in which you can use it without limitation. After those 7 days it stops working and you are requested to buy the license key.

3. Updates

Updates are fundamental to keep your application in the Bestseller-List. As soon as the user feels like the application is neglected by the developer he loses interest and probably won’t recommend it to someone else.

An application can always be improved and worked on. May it be bugs you find from time to time or compatibility with new devices. For example, there’s no need to not support the Storm. It’s worth it to resize your images, add some code and port your application to as many devices as possible. Sure, some APIs are not supported on some devices, but most applications can be ported to newer device models.

4. Customer support

“Der Kunde ist König” is a German saying meaning that “the customer is the king.” Treat him that way and answer his or her emails in a timely manner. Listen to the suggestions the users make and implement those ideas into a new build of the application. Do that quickly so that the customer feels that the application is being worked on and tailored to his/her needs.

5. Develop your own ideas

Developers: get your own ideas. There’s no need to write the 7th VibAndRing application or try to follow Joel Comm’s iFart-app-success.

Oh, and while we’re talking about fart-apps, they are incredibly useless. I have never ever installed one, it’s just a waste of application memory!

Your wwn ideas pay off the best. Think about something that has never been done before. Developers like dmglakewood or phrehnck are really good at this. Their apps are awesome because they have unique ideas! Come up with thoughts that the world of BlackBerry has never seen before. It’s interesting to observe how the community reacts to your ideas. It’s also interesting to see the community say: “wow, I can’t believe nobody thought about that before!”

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6. Wireless download possibility

For the user, it is very convenient when an application has an OTA-Link (Over-the-air-link) so that one can download an application straight to their device. Otherwise, the user must first connect their BlackBerry to their PC and make sure they have the proper version of Desktop Manager installed and so on. On the BlackBerry App World, all downloads are OTA but on the MobiHand network, you can either upload the .zip file for Desktop Installation or the .jad and .cod for an OTA-installation.

I hope that through this article I can be of assistance to some beginners with starting developing applications for the BlackBerry OS. From time to time I will write more articles on BlackBerry development, since it’s truly the most fascinating platform for mobile devices.

Follow me on Twitter, I also “tweet” about BlackBerry development from time to time.

Also, take the time to check out the applications I have written in the MobiHand network.

How to write a BlackBerry application – Lesson 2: Mail API, Invoke API, Menu

July 17, 2009 Leave a comment

How to write your second BlackBerry application – Lesson 2: Mail API, Invoke API, Menu

In the first tutorial you learned how to set up the BlackBerry JDK (Java Development Kit) and how to create a simple User Interface with Buttons, Labels and Edit Fields.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how one can program, create and compose email messages as well as how to add a MenuItem to your application.

1. You open up the JDE (Java Development Environment) and load your Workspace file. Go to File -> Recent Workspaces to load up the Lections.jdw file.
2. Now right-click on Lections.jdw and select Create new Project
3. Name it Lection_2
4. Now right-click on Lection_2 and select Add file to Project
5. Select both files HelloWorld.java and Lesson2Screen.java to import them into the project
6. You now have the project set up and are ready to jump into the code

What the application allows you to do is the following:

It gives you 3 EditFields where you can enter data. It also provides you with 2 ButtonFields.

The one button is called Create email and when you click that button it pops up a new email message with the data you entered in the fields. From there, you can send the email.

BlackBerry development article 2

The other button is called Send email and after you click the button, it sends off the email straight from your app without showing the form where you can still edit the message. Then, when you go into your Messages Application you find the sent mail there.

BlackBerry development

What else do I learn in this lesson?

You learn how to insert colored fields into the screen and you learn how to add a MenuItem to your app.

BlackBerry development

What else is there to know about this lesson?

We imported two new APIs into our project:

import net.rim.blackberry.api.invoke.*;
import net.rim.blackberry.api.mail.*;

The invoke-API is needed to invoke the Messages application to pop up that email form and the mail-API is needed to send of the email from the Send email button. For a complete list of all APIs you can go to Help -> API Reference.

Is there anything specific you want me to cover in the next lesson?

Drop your thoughts in the comments or reply to me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FabianMH.

How to Write a BlackBerry Application – Lesson 3: Create shortcuts and more

July 17, 2009 Leave a comment

How to write a BlackBerry application – Lesson 3: Open a webpage, system-wide menu Item, adding an icon and yes/no dialog

This is lesson 3 in a series of BlackBerry application development lessons. These lessons are intended to bring someone with no experience in developing applications for BlackBerry, up to speed with the latest development techniques. It’s easier than you think so try it out!

Before starting, this lesson, make sure you have read Lesson 1 and Lesson 2.

1.      Go into the folder where your BlackBerry Lections.jdw file is
2.      Create a folder there called Lection 3
3.      Open up your JDE and open the Workspace called Lections.jdw
4.      Right-Click on Lections.jdw
5.      Select Create new Project
6.      Name the Project Lection_3 and save it to the Folder \Lection 3
7.      Copy the two files HelloWorld.java and Lesson3Screen.java into the \Lection 3 folder
8.      In the JDE right-click on Lection_3 and add the two files HelloWorld.java and Lesson3Screen.java into the project

In this Lesson, you learn how to open up a webpage with the default BlackBerry browser. You can use that to create your own Website-Shortcuts or Link to your Homepage straight out of your BlackBerry application.

BlackBerry development

Another thing you learn in this lesson is how to add your own Menu to the System-Menu! Now you can call up your application or do anything else from everywhere in the System. Make sure that you do not add to many Menus to the System-Menu since that can get very confusing for the user.

BlackBerry application

This is what happens when you call up the Menu from anywhere in the System:

BlackBerry app

The third thing you learn is how to add an Icon to your application and how to set the Name for the app.

blackberry app

To add an Icon to the application please do the following:
1. Right-Click on Lection_3 and select Add File to Project
2. Select the file icon.png
3. Right-Click on the newly added file icon.png
4. Click Properties
5. Tick Use as Application Icon
Make sure that the icon you add is about 50×50 pixel and in transparent PNG. I use the software Gimp 2 to edit the icon and to set the transparency.

To set a name for the application you created right-click on Lection_3, select Properties, click on the General-Tab and set the Name in the Title field. There you can also edit the Vendor, Version and Description.

BlackBerry app

Another small feature is a simple Yes/No Dialog. Here is what it looks like:

blackberry dialog

I hope you enjoyed this BlackBerry Development Lesson. Please visit my website at mobileutil.com and follow me on Twitter twitter.com/FabianMH!

Let me know what other topics I should cover in the next Development Lesson!

What happened to Research In Motion and where are they going?

July 1, 2009 Leave a comment

I want to start this off by saying I have nothing but love for RIM the company. Probably my favorite tech corporation in the world, they’ve created an incredibly unique product that practically replaces the need for drugs for most people. What’s even more fascinating, however, is how RIM (to the pleasant surprise of a lot of us early users) has managed to take a corporate-focused product and service and blow down doors in the consumer world. From the BlackBerry 7100, the first consumer-oriented device, to the eye-catching BlackBerry Tour (it’s business through and through, yet it will be an incredibly popular consumer phone on Verizon and Sprint), it’s clear that RIM has done everything right to this day.

So, what’s the problem you’re asking? They have probably the best back-end infrastructure for mobile communication on the planet, awesome phones that can go head-to-head with high-end smartphones, consumer marketing, a huge consumer fanbase, and practically every businessman (or woman) has one on their hip. One word is where RIM fails so miserably it isn’t even imaginable: software.

You have to look at the big picture here… for what RIM is working with (an incredibly miserable Java OS with so much security and encryption and smoke-blowing APIs) they’ve hit the jackpot. Their OS architecture is fantastic, their use of security is what makes them so trustworthy. But, as each handset release comes closer and closer, people start to see the bigger picture. And that’s the fact that RIM’s OS is more than antiquated, it’s borderline laughable. But it works, you’re thinking, so what’s wrong? I’ve been saying this for years, but it wasn’t designed to do anything the BlackBerry does now. Imagine scotch taping car parts to a 200hp engine and see how far that gets you. Obviously, it’s just a viciously rough metaphor, but we believe a correct one.

There’s so many limitations to RIM’s OS, and even RIM’s data network that it offsets all the wonderful things they’ve managed to accomplish. Remember when people were so excited over leaked shots of OS 4.6 and I said somewhere it was just a theme? Well, was I wrong? Oh, look! OS 5.0! What changed? 99% nothing. Some functionality is added here and there, but the mobile phone landscape has changed so drastically in the last two years, that RIM, admittedly known to planning “three years out” looks to be unable to see the proper direction to head.

You can throw $1,000,000,000 at developers but you won’t get any if your OS, tools, and documentation are so bad, and that’s really in the end a lot of what I’m getting at. I was laying in bed at around 3AM early one morning recently, looking through the iPhone App Store and I came across EA’s Tiger Woods Golf. $6.99, why not? Wait, it’s 150MB? Wow, it must be good. I clicked purchase and literally 4 minutes later, Tiger Woods was installed and up on my screen. Granted I was on a high-speed Wi-Fi connection, but it made me realize more than ever that RIM has the most uphill battle of their lifetimes. When a BlackBerry application over 500k is considered “large”, something’s wrong. When TweetGenius is one of the first BlackBerry applications to do fun, unique things like transparent overlays, consistent shortcuts, and a straight forward UI, something is wrong.

The reason why this is so frustrating to me and I’m guessing many is because RIM literally almost has it all. They’ve got it! They are 90% there but that last 10% has become the most important. If you take Apple for example, and see their shortcomings, and then what they’ve done to fix them, it’s remarkable. It’s a completely different DNA than RIM’s but it’s working. In two years Apple has practically matched Research In Motion in almost every consumer area while having the most advanced mobile operating system with the most advanced mobile SDK on the planet. If Apple can do this in just two years and RIM has stood still, no one thinks that’s a problem?

The reason RIM works is because it’s the entire package, if you will. Hardware, software, infrastructure, corporate integration, security, etc. People want simplicity, ease of use, but more than ever they want more than they need. Stupider people are smarter and expect more, smarter people are stupider and expect more. RIM delivers the same tired package in new hardware and people are starting to catch on. App World? Seriously? From every single developer I’ve spoke to, it’s a non-starter. It basically doesn’t exist to them in terms of a sales channel — it’s practically like 1% if that.

What consumers don’t do is look forward. They look at what’s put in front of them. It’s the exact opposite for the manufacturer and thus why it’s so difficult. Look back two or three years and the Bold and Storm might seem incredibly innovative, consumer-focused, and sure to be hot sellers. And they were and are, but look ahead three years and tell me point blank you have confidence that RIM knows how to steer this ship. I don’t, and that’s being incredibly honest. It’s not me being negative, it’s objectively looking at the landscape and evaluating things. I want RIM to succeed, I want RIM to make kick ass products. I’m just frustrated that RIM is going through hardware like it’s nobody’s business yet fails to deliver on the things that everyone wants. Screw business people, screw consumers, everyone wants a WebKit-based browser. It’s inexcusable RIM doesn’t get it. It’s inexcusable that people put up with a 2003 operating system with so many limitations and restrictions it would make Ahmadinejad jealous. I don’t think RIM is going anywhere, they as a company are incredibly successful, but once they start to lose the consumer market which they worked so hard to get, it’s a downward shift.

Here’s a list of RIM’s models followed by Apple’s in the last 3 years:

RIM: 8110, 8120, 8130, 8800, 8820, 8830, 8300, 8310, 8320, 8330, 8220, 8230, 8900, 9000, 9500, 9530, 9630.

Apple: iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS.

There’s a good and bad part with knowing things in advance. For instance, people might hold off on purchasing a new BlackBerry if they know a newer and better one is being released in a couple months, and this hurts a company’s current product cycle. On the other hand, if someone on Verizon sees a Tour being released two months from now, they might rethink jumping ship or switching to a different device on Verizon. And the cycle continues. Looking at RIM’s upcoming products for the next 6-12 months is simply a rehash of current limitations and shortcoming in smaller and sexier packages. The BlackBerry 9020? It’s a Bold in a smaller, sexier package. Nothing else is different. The BlackBerry Storm 2? It’s the same device with maybe improved screen tech. The BlackBerry Magnum? As hot as a hybrid touch screen/QWERTY device would be, it’s still a BlackBerry that can’t pull up a webpage to save its life or play a real game or have any sort of desktop-class application running.

These things won’t change, the core OS hasn’t changed, and RIM has had no reason to change it. Why mess with success, right? Well, if you happen to be Research In Motion, you might have to start changing things up or newer and better operating systems like the iPhone, webOS, and Android are going to eat their lunch and their applications, too.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to have every phone I want on every carrier and that gives a person an incredible amount of clarity when picking the superior products. I use an iPhone 3GS and a BlackBerry Bold everyday, both on AT&T. But to tell you the truth, in the past when people ask me what device would I choose if I had to only pick one, it would hurt my brain. There was just no way to choose. But unfortunately or fortunately, that decision has become clearer and clearer. I don’t think I’ll ever give up my BlackBerry, I’m pretty sure you’ll always find one on my hip in an OEM RIM leather holster, (yes, holsters are cool as shit) but when me of all people starts truly questioning how a company as successful and brilliant as RIM is going to keep up with the next 2-3 years, you’ve got a big, big issue.

I’ll close by saying that the market is still wide open and this doesn’t mean RIM is or ever will go anywhere. It’s just something to keep an eye on and see how the best to ever do it will react to competitors’ advances, innovations, and of course, their software.

Se7en Berry Today Theme with calendar

May 30, 2009 Leave a comment

By Adrian Francis




OTA Download: http://www.echofoxx.com/blackberry/t…hite_today.jad

8330-se7en-berry-beta-new-dispatch1024001024_26622-02.png

8330-se7en-berry-beta-new-dispatch1024001024_26622.png

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Please Donate if you like this Theme
Paypal: echofoxx3@yahoo.com or echofoxx@gmail.com
Thanks for your support.

Se7en Berry Dock Theme

May 30, 2009 Leave a comment
By Adrian Francis

OTA Download: http://www.echofoxx.com/blackberry/t…white_dock.jad

8330-se7en-berry-beta-new-dispatch1024001024_26624-11.png
8330-se7en-berry-beta-new-dispatch1024001024_26624-09.png
8330-se7en-berry-beta-new-dispatch1024001024_26622-17.png

Please Donate if you like this Theme

Paypal: echofoxx3@yahoo.com or echofoxx@gmail.com

Thanks for your support.