How to turn your website into a BlackBerry PlayBook App in THREE Minutes with the WebWorks SDK

By Kevin Michaluk on 5 May 2011 07:48 pm EDT

During our BlackBerry World Developer podcast with RIM's Chris Smith and Mike Kirkup, we talked about the different development options available for the BlackBerry PlayBook and some of the factors developers will want to look at in deciding which SDK to use.

For mobilizing website content onto the PlayBook (and BlackBerry Smartphones for that matter), the BlackBerry WebWorks development kit is relatively powerful and easy-to-use option. How easy? Check out the video above and you'll see Tim Neil from RIM whip together a basic app in 3 minutes. Impressive. While the PlayBook's web browser does a solid job of loading, I'm starting to think it's time we build a kick ass CrackBerry app for the PlayBook. What do you guys and gals think?

Learn More About the BlackBerry Tablet OS WebWorks SDK

Reader comments

How to turn your website into a BlackBerry PlayBook App in THREE Minutes with the WebWorks SDK


it is but it allows the developer to turn a website into an app very quickly.
thats how it is without any customization but from that point the developer can turn their website into a full app.

Could you please explain the usability/purpose of making a website into an app? Perhaps an example?

Lameness. Playbook runs out of memory. Why would u want to turn something into another app when u can just open it as another tab?

the only real reason i'd want an app for crackberry is if it notified me of an update on a post/specific forums I mark as important(which RSS/twitter/facebook can do) or private messages. Personally, I think the bigger the screen like the playbook with a full working browser discards any need for things like this. Maybe on a smaller form facter like a torch but webworks doesn't play well with BBOS, but who needs fancy bookmarks?

As a fancy bookmark, whats the point other than helping RIM make the app world look a lot larger than it should be and allowing an influx of crappy bookmark apps. I certainly wouldn't bother with anything other than a fully functional useful app.

What else could the app do that the full web page can't, other than maybe miss out on some functionality. The good thing is that it would make crackberry look very minimal like a mobile version of the site with better functionality (no ads for example) and quicker load times.

Same here,but some would probably want to make a porno app and disguise it with an none pornographic app icon

Making a crackberry app would be great! If you guys wanted help from the community I for one would be willing to pitch my talents in the ring. Would be fun to do some development work for everyone here...

Gonna have to check out the web works sdk...

Just tried this, its using HTML5. Lot of stuff I am unfamiliar with but looks interesting, thought I don't think this would run as good as a native app?

The same thing can be done in blackberry os 6 devices with webworks O_o, why the fuzz now :[

What I wonder is - how would "used-to-be-website-but-is-now-an-app" work from a monetization standpoint? I mean - the WHOLE reason websites exist for the most part is the ads, to make money. Yes, to get a message out and in the case of CB, to foster a group lovefest for all things BB, - still, Kevin and the gang would not do this if the banner ads and other stuff like didn't bring them MONEY. Would an app get rid of all that? Of course we see iOS apps out there that have little banner ads and things, BUT the discussion here is taking an existing website and making it an 'app'. How do ads work in that scenario and where's the money coming from?

It's all about the money - always.

the money still comes from the ads. the app is effectively a chrome-less browser tab. it would still display the banner flash ads, allow access to shop crackberry, etc. also some app lovers will be willing to pay to download such "apps" from appworld.

one more here - while I'm all about apps, I still don't see the value of this (at least in the demo shown above) over just bookmarks to the website. I mean really - what is the value of this?

help me get it, CB Nation!

It seems to me that people are missing the fact that if it were a fully working webworks app, it could talk to other parts of he phone (they mentioned BBM). The point is not to make it a "bookmark" which is all they had time to do in the demo, but to make it an app with the ability to interact with your device.

Seems pretty cool, but I am still big on the full websites rather than apps. This thing is going to have to prove itself before it can start bragging about how awesome it is.

Please make a PB app/optimized Crackberry site with all deliberate speed! One that remembers log-ins, has much, much larger buttons not so crowded with ads. Don't misunderstand, this site as it is is very good on the PB, and while it has a lot of ads, it has more than enough good content to justify them and they're colorful, classy and very well targeted. They are the kind of ads I don't mind because they relate so well to the content. But the whole site might benefit from a PB-eye view in its setup. And while I'm at it, please keep as much of the non-PB content as will fit as I already access Crackberry more often from the PB than any other device

One other thing about the ads -- and I know there's only so much you can do, but I've bought here before and often research buys before I get them elsewhere. I'd just as soon buy them here, but a few times I tried but couldn't get competitive shipping, in terms of availability and/or timing. Most recently I bought the Otterbox for the PB after reading about it here. I wanted to order it through Crackberry but there was no certainty as to when it would be available whereas I could get it right away from Otterbox, so I did. Crackberry deserved the credit for the sale but didn't get it. I don't mind paying a reasonable Crackberry premium, either and I'm sure Otterbox would have been happy wherever the sale came from. Obviously these things are not under your control, but it would make Crackberry the one-stop Blackberry accessory source, as it is so well organized, comprehensive and credible in its reviews and in the comments.

One of the reasons i bought the playbook is so i wouldn't have to have an app for everything. Build one if you want, but i won't be downloading it. (sent from my playbook)

Where I like this, even though at it's basic form it is like a shortcut, is I could use it for marketing purposes for my wife's antiques website.

If I could use the SDK to simply package her website into an app, place it on Appworld, and offer it for free, it might grab some extra customers for us.

Coll stuff.

+1 on the app. I think it would be a nice visual sneak peak for CB, especially if you can customize the specific threads/forums/pages you want to see upon login. then for full context it will load up through the browser - just like a visual RSS feed but specifically for CB - heck, integrate buying stuff online.

It might take 3 minutes to turn a webpage into a Webworks App, but it takes a lot longer for a new developer to set up a dev environment and get things working before they get to that step. Then you gotta sign the app, submit it to appworld, await an approval, etc.... The whole process takes in excess of a week, not quite 3 minutes.

If it is that easy to convert a webpage to an app....could somebody PLEASE convert to an app ? It currently only runs under internet explorer and I can guarantee you there'd be many real estate agents willing to toss you a few bucks for it!

Make the website Playbook friendly , all it needs is bigger fonts.

the great thing about a browser is you can quickly go from site to site.

Lots of site apps for the iPad, never use them.

The example in the video was pretty basic and didn't deliver much more than the equivalent of a short cut. However I do see potential here. I am certainly committed to the idea of developing web applications (preferably html5) in preference to device apps because if written well they should work on any device. However there are limitations with pure web functionality at the moment, like not being able to access various parts of the device hardware. If this approach allows someone with web development skills to easily interact with for example the camera on the device, then I can certainly see some uses.

For example a web site could easily have a basic order entry form where the user can type in product numbers, however with access to the camera the numbers could be scanned from barcodes. Here I would see the converted app as being an alternative UI, a companion app, for the web site rather than replacing it. It also means that all the complex backend integration with inventory and pricing systems etc would remain on the website and would not need to be pushed down to the device.

Definitely not going to be a 3 minute job to create anything remotely useful, but I think there is some real opportunity here.

you guys are a little late with your own crackberry apps for phones and playbook. I know you guys can better than a simple launcher