How to Create a BlackBerry Launcher

A few weeks back I made a late night, excited blog post about a new webservice that had just launched, For $3, makes it quick and easy for anyone to create their own custom web launcher by uploading images and filling out fields on a web form, from where the finished launcher is automatically generated and emailed to you for your use and distribution.

That post got a lot of comments. Many people saw the convenience of the service, while others said just make it yourself for free! For a while now, CrackBerry member phikai has been taking BlackBerry launcher requests and creating and hosting them for free. So in the spirit of Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime, phikai has put together an awesome tutorial (after the jump) so those of you want to learn how to make your own BlackBerry launchers can do so. This isn't exactly a newbie tutorial, but I have a feeling a lot of CrackBerry Addicts will be doing some tinkering after they read through the lecture. BIG THANKS to phikai for putting this together. Enjoy your Free launchers everyone!


By Kai Armstrong
CrackBerry Member - phikai
Twitter - @phikai
Website -

Before You Begin...

DISCLAIMER: Kai Armstrong and EDL Industries are in no way responsible for any damage that you may cause to your device(s) or computer. Please only do this if you're somewhat versed in computers and programming. A basic HTML background will make this really easy...especially if you're familiar with templates. None the less don't come harassing me if you screw something major up. *

Required Stuff:

  • BlackBerry JDE (I use 4.7, which with appropriate simulators should work for older devices as well)
  • Java JDK
  • BlackBerry Developer Signing Keys ($20 bucks from BlackBerry, millions of signatures)
  • Image Editing Software (Paint.Net is my preference)

First you'll need to download the BlackBerry Java Developer Environment. It's basically a fancy java editor that gives you access to the BlackBerry API. In order to download it you'll need to register for a developer account (It prompts before the download so don't worry).


It's under Java Application Development > Tools and Downloads. On the next page click the link for "Learn More about the BlackBerry Java Development Environment". Scroll down and you'll see a link for all of them. I use 4.7 (I think I still have the Beta installed....) but if you were to download other device simulators 4.7 should work for any BlackBerry.

Launcher How To

It will prompt you for your username/password once you click to download. Create a developer account and away you go. Download and install the BlackBerry JDE and then move on.

Next you'll need to pick up the Java JDK. This lets you develop in Java and is required by the BlackBerry JDE to work. To pick this up head to the Java Website ( Click the link at the bottom for developers. Then click the link for "Java SE Development Kit (JDK)". From there click the link to download the Java SE Development Kit and follow the prompts. Download, install, and move on.

Launcher How To

You should be ready to create a launcher now.

Build Your Own BlackBerry Launcher

Open the BB JDE. I can't recall what it looks like the first time, but don't worry about it. Go to File > New. You'll want to create a new workspace. Pick the location and the name of the workspace. I'd recommend creating a folder for the workspace as you're going to end up with lots of files.

Launcher How To 

Once you have your workspace setup, you'll need to create a new project within the workspace. To do this, right click on the workspace name at the top and say "Create new project in..." I recommend for this that you create a folder for each launcher so the files for each are easily contained. I'm going to create a one just for this example...

Launcher How To Notice that I had to type "crackberry" in both the "Project Name:" and "...Directory:" Boxes. This creates a separate folder for the launcher and a project for it.

Next you'll need to create a new file in the project crackberry. Go back over to the workspace navigation pane on the left and right-click on the project name and click create new file.

Launcher How To 

I name my java files the same as my project. This keeps me organized since all the files associated with the launcher have the same filenames. Once you create the file you'll now have a blank Java file.

Now it's time to do the coding portion. The java code is simple and easy. I copy and paste it for each launcher and then change the 2 or 3 sections of code that make them unique.

Launcher How To

That's the basic template used for each launcher, all you need to do is change the parts that matter to end up with something like the one below.

Launcher How To

You'll notice the part at top in the green are "comments" anything inside the opposing slashes with the ‘*' isn't actually code so it can just be a note for yourself, or someone else if you're giving the files away.

The "package ... ;" needs to be the same as the file name. In this case we have "package crackberry;"

Next you need to put the URL in. This goes in "quotes" and can point to anything.

Now that the coding portion is complete, we need to create a graphic for the button on our device. I use a program called, but any image editing software with some basic functionality should work fine.

Create the icon and save the file as a *.png For curve and older devices a 48x48 pixel icon size is probably pretty good. For the Storm, Bold, etc...I use an 80x80 icon size. HOWEVER, you need to be aware that an 80x80 if filled for all those pixels looks huge, so I usually leave a slight buffer. You'll want to create the icons and make sure to save them so they keep transparency. You can also create two icons for a launcher so that when you are highlighting it the icon changes.

Launcher How To

Now that you've created your images, copy them to the folder for the launcher. Once the image files are in the folder you'll need to add them to the launcher. Right click on the Java file and click "Add file to..."

Launcher How To 

You'll end up with something like this:

Launcher How To 

Now you need to tell the launcher to use the pictures. Right click on each picture file and select "Properties". If you're using two icons you'll need to decide which is the static icon and which is the Focus icon. For this, I'm going to make the cblogo static, and Kevin the focus icon.

Launcher How To

Now you need to set the properties for the project. This includes the name, vendor, version and a description of the program.

Launcher How To 

Launcher How To

Once you've got the properties set it's time to build/compile the project. Up at the top of the window you'll notice a menu titled "build". The first option under that is "Build" click that and the program will create something the blackberry can use from the java file.

Launcher How To 

You'll get two warnings when you build the project. These warnings are because the project hasn't been signed yet and therefore won't work on a physical device yet.

Launcher How To Once the project is built, I suggest you test it out on the device simulator, at least until you figure out what you're doing. This will prevent unnecessary code signatures and a little bit of frustration on your own device.

To run the project up at the top hit the little "{}->" symbol and it will launch the device simulator. The simulator takes a bit of time to boot up. Once the simulator is launched you might need to "load the java program". To do this go the file menu and select it.

Launcher How To

Once the Java program is loaded, the launcher will show up in the "Downloads" folder of the device simulator.

Launcher How To You'll notice that on the left is the static icon, and when we click on the launcher it shows the focus icon. If you were to click on the launcher it would launch the simulators browser to the site. If you don't have the network connections configured on your simulator it will open the browser, but won't find the page.

Once you are satisfied with the way the launcher looks in the simulator you can sign it. The signing process is pretty simple once you get your keys from blackberry. The signatures are required to use the Secure API's. The signatures act as a reporting mechanism for RIM to track which applications are using these incase there were to be an issue with a particular application at a later point in time.

To request the signatures head back up to the build menu. At the bottom of the list is a option to request signatures.

Launcher How To 

Click that and the signature manager opens.

Launcher How To

You can see in the Status section of the window that two things are not signed. You'll need to click "Request" down in the bottom to fix that. It will ask you for a password, which is the password that you configured when you installed the signature keys to your computer.

Type in your password and click ok. It will automatically sign the appropriate files and then give you a confirmation. You'll also notice the Status updates to "Signed"

Launcher How To 

Launcher How To

Your launcher is now complete and ready for a real device. To install with desktop manager you'll need to create the ".alx" file. If you are planning to obtain it OTA (from a personal web server) the files are already created and you just need to copy the directory to your web server. Enjoy your launcher! It takes some time and effort to learn how to build your first one, but from there it's easy, fast and free!