Weekend Coder: CrackBerry’s app developer guide
Developers | 43 Comments Weekend Coder: CrackBerry’s app developer guide As the well-known saying goes, “A journey of a 1000 lines of code starts with a single import statement”… Oh, wait that’s not a saying at all is it? Well here's something that is well known for many new developers, it is often difficult to figure out how to get started. And the second biggest...

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Apr 20, 2014 Weekend Coder: CrackBerry’s app developer guide
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Peek

As the well-known saying goes, “A journey of a 1000 lines of code starts with a single import statement”… Oh, wait that’s not a saying at all is it? Well here's something that is well known for many new developers, it is often difficult to figure out how to get started. And the second biggest challenge is what to do next after getting started. The first is a relatively easy question to answer and for the second, while there is no single correct answer there are definitely better paths to choose than others.

So, here I hope to dig back into previous Weekend Coder posts and put them into an order that should help new developers progress through Cascades.

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Mar 29, 2014 Weekend Coder: Custom game UI
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Much like musicians are often inspired by each other, I think that app design can be inspired from others too. A few weeks back I showed my interpretation of how to make a custom TabbedPane inspired by the Sochi Olympics app and today I have another design to share. Before I go any further, please don’t confuse this with stealing code/ripping off apps. These examples all contain original code that I am sharing for others to get an idea of a way something can be done.

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Mar 08, 2014 Weekend Coder: Updating an app; A love story
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This weekend I have something a little different for this series, and I think it is something that developers and non-developers alike will enjoy. The best I can explain it is as a self-reflection of developing for BlackBerry 10 and specifically centering my thoughts on one of my apps, Random Stories+.

First a little background, Random Stories+ (RS) is an ad lib style app/game where it asks you for various words by parts of speech (verb, noun, adjective, etc) and fills those words into a story to make a potentially silly sounding story. Version 1.x of RS was one of the first apps I ever wrote and I did the majority of the development prior to BlackBerry 10 launching. After launch it was never a particularly popular app so it kind of fell by the wayside and I moved on to other projects.

From a development standpoint this is a relatively easy scenario to code. Pretty much have the user start a story (2 length options, quickie with 5 blanks and epic with 10 blanks) and have a function randomly select one of the stories for which the user could then enter their words. After the user presses submit those words would be concatenated into the rest of the story. Hilarity ensues?

At this point, you may be wondering why I am telling this story. Well the short answer is simple, self-review and self-improvement. The long answer, however, I think is much more interesting and has screenshots!

I have seen many people write articles about if you look at your old code and you barely understand it means you have advanced as a developer. And in my case, with this code being over a year old, this couldn’t be more true. Let’s first take a look at the workflow of the 3 main releases of the app:

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Feb 23, 2014 Weekend Coder: More custom UI's with Fancy Transitions
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Since BlackBerry 10 Cascades came out a little less than two years ago there have been three major releases of tools and APIs for developers to play around with. And I, like many weekend coders, have spent most of my time trying to use those tools for their somewhat obvious purposes. But as the tool releases have slowed and we have all had time to gain some mastery of the provided tools it’s time to for us developers to create some custom user interfaces and experiences.

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Feb 08, 2014 Weekend Coder: Mimic Cascades layouts with custom elements
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There’s been a lot of buzz about the new Sochi Winter Olympics app, obviously from end users following the Olympics and from developers too. When the app first launched, it looked like it had to be an Android port or WebWorks but it ran way too smoothly to be either. We later confirmed that it was written in Cascades, with all custom effects and navigation.

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Jan 19, 2014 Weekend Coder: Cascades roadmap wish list
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In the months leading up to every release of Cascades, BlackBerry provided a roadmap of what’s ahead. However, after the release of 10.2 there haven’t been any updates to that roadmap. I have reached out to my contacts at BlackBerry Dev Relations and they’ve assured me that there is still new tools being worked on, they just haven’t updated the roadmap for whatever reason.

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Jan 05, 2014 Weekend Coder: Text Styling
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One of the easiest ways to make your app have a unique look is to change the text styling. Among basic changes such as color and size that have always been available in Cascades, 10.2 brings the option to change the font to any .otf or .ttf font included in your code. Let’s take a look at the available text styling and how to implement them in your app.

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Nov 30, 2013 Weekend Coder – 10 months of coding for BlackBerry 10
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November is the 10 month mark for BlackBerry 10 so I thought it would be fun to reflect on the past 10 months from a developer’s perspective. I believe BlackBerry 10 has come a long way in a short amount of time and as a hobbyist developer I have had relatively good success in terms of downloads and sales.

I think the best place to start is to take a look at the tools BlackBerry has deployed for developers. On launch day, January 30th, we had version 10.0 which contained many of the basic APIs required to make apps in a variety of languages. Out of the gate, BB10 has supported 4 very different platforms: Native code/Cascades (C++, QML), WebWorks (HTML), Adobe Air (Actionscript), and Android Runtime (Java).

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Nov 24, 2013 Weekend Coder – Three types of menus
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Love it or hate it, BlackBerry 10 devices no longer have the “BlackBerry menu” button we were all familiar with on legacy devices. That is not to say there are no longer menus in BlackBerry apps, in fact developers have three types of menus at their disposal. Let’s take a look at each and discuss the use case for each. Also I encourage non developers to read this one to learn where developers are putting menus in their apps.

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Nov 10, 2013 Weekend Coder: Handling orientation changes
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Peek

While designing my first app that is intended for media consumption (rather than my usual puzzle games), I quickly realized that it is necessary to to take into account orientation changes. The orientation is the direction the device is being held, either landscape or portrait. The idea of properly handling orientation is to effectively use screen real estate for both use cases.

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Oct 20, 2013 Weekend Coder: App Name, icon, and splash screen
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Three important aspects of your BlackBerry app are the name, icon and the splash screen (also known as the loading screen). They are the first three things a user will see when launching your app so they are important to have. The name will appear below the icon. The icon is the face of your app when users are browsing BlackBerry World or once downloaded in their grid of icons. The splash screen is the first thing shown when a user launches your app.

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Sep 14, 2013 Weekend Coder: Setting a default tab
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Peek

Earlier this week I stumbled upon a request for someone wanting to create a feature that is present in the native Calendar app and I thought it would make for a great tutorial. What they wanted to mimic was to allow the user to set a default tab when opening the app. The use case in the Calendar app is you can choose between Day, Week, or Month for your default view. Not only do I think this is a neat ability, there’s probably a few more use cases.

I’ve created a sample app available on the Weekend Coder github site and I suggest pulling that open and following along while reading through the tutorial. Now let’s take a look at the pieces that make up this app.

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Sep 08, 2013 Weekend Coder: Using ListView to create an RSS feed
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Peek

Way back at my first conference, BlackBerry Jam Americas 2012, I heard an interesting statistic: 80% of all apps contain lists. And if you think about it's not that surprising of a statistic considering most of the social network apps (Twitter, Facebook, etc) and everyone's favorite app, CB10, are a list of items. Because of that BlackBerry made sure to have a very good feature for lists, and they do called ListView. So this tutorial will mainly focus on ListView but will have a few other features to make the sample application a bit more full featured.

A bit more back story about this tutorial (feel free to skip this part if you just want to learn coding stuff), I wrote this example app very quickly (given a 2 day deadline) for a friend who lives in Trinidad and Tobago and wanted to show it off at a local developer meet up. So the feed is for a local newspaper there. But since RSS feeds usually follow the same .xml format you should be able to replace the source with any feed of your choosing. Finally, this tutorial may not be the best one to read if you are completely new to Cascades because I skip some explanations for the sake of length. On to the tutorial...

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Aug 25, 2013 Weekend Coder: The app making process
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Regardless of platform or coding language, to successfully create an app there is a general process I like to follow. When most people think of coding apps, they focus on the coding aspect, however that it just one piece of the process. So let’s take a look at my four steps of creating an app.

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Aug 17, 2013 Weekend Coder: Utilizing in-app purchases
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I have tried a few pricing models, free only, free w/ ads, free version/paid version, etc but the best I've found is using the "freemium" model. The idea behind freemium is the app is initially free but to access additional portions or to gain extra ability in the app is to pay real money. This same methodology can be applied to already paid apps, thus recreating premium plus apps. Not only have I found this as the most financially beneficial but end users seem to like it the best too and it is not that difficult to implement. To add in-app purchases we'll use the BlackBerry Payment Service.

Few things before I get started, this is not an exhaustive sample on in-app purchases, in fact I am only going to go through a purchase of a consumable good. In app purchases have multiple models within it such as subscriptions and non-consumable goods. Implementing the others are much different but I’ll leave that to you to implement based off your own needs.

Though there is already a really good BlackBerry sample here, there are just too many bells and whistles in there that I find to be annoying. This sample will use the PaymentServiceControl.cpp and .hpp files from that sample but I will strip out the unnecessary parts. Plus I'll explain everything along the way. So go ahead and grab those files from the sample mentioned above.

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Jul 28, 2013 Weekend Coder: Dynamic active frames for your app
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One of the unique new features in BlackBerry 10 is the the minimized view of an app, also called the active frame. By default it is a smaller version of whatever the app looks like when maximized, however app developers have the ability to change it. Not only can it be changed to a static view, it can also be dynamically updated from signals within the code. Both of these features seem to be under utilized in most apps I see in BlackBerry World currently. Maybe nobody knows about it or maybe they don't know how to implement it... Well that's about the change! Few coding active frames facts: Continue Reading →
Jul 21, 2013 Weekend Coder: Submitting apps to BlackBerry World
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So you’ve written all your code, packaged your app, and now you are ready to post it for download or sale on BlackBerry World. Once you log into your vendor account, you may find the process to submit your app long and confusing. To help you, I’ve put together a complete walkthrough video explaining every step of the way.

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Jul 06, 2013 Weekend Coder: Keyboard shortcuts make apps better
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Peek

Keyboard shortcuts are the real reason why hardware keyboard phones still exist! Since I leave the editorial pieces to other writers, I won’t rant about how much I love keyboard shortcuts. Instead I’ll do what I do best and show all you fine people how to add them to your Cascades apps.

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Jun 30, 2013 Weekend Coder: GAP HTML5 tool for BlackBerry 10 apps
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One of our friends at BlackBerry let us know about a new unofficial tool, GAP (Graphical Aid Plus) for HTML5 WebWorks development.  This tool eliminates the need of using command line for various tasks when developing for WebWorks. Though I prefer coding Cascades apps myself, this tool is really cool and may even entice me to tinker a bit more with WebWorks. With that being said, let’s take a closer look at this tool. Continue Reading →
Jun 29, 2013 Weekend Coder: Navigating through your app
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We're continuing our series on learning how to write BlackBerry apps from a hobbyist perspective. This edition, we dig into tabbed navigation panes in Cascades...

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Jun 16, 2013 Weekend Coder: Tour of the Momentics IDE
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Peek
A few days ago we told you BlackBerry updated all the development SDKs to version 10.2 Beta and along with new coding features, the Cascades developing environment (Momentics) got a major overhaul. It features a more streamlined toolbar, better design preview performance, and a bunch of other goodies. So I thought this would be a good time create a video walkthrough of not only the new features of Momentics but a complete overview of the environment. Continue Reading →
Jun 02, 2013 Weekend Coder: Navigating developer resources
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Peek
There are plenty of resources out there to help you develop apps for BlackBerry. The usual go-to spot is BlackBerry’s developer site. The next best place for getting help is from other developers. Developers tend to be willing help other developers, however to receive help you need to go about it in the correct manner. When you go looking for help there are certain do’s and don’ts you should follow, so in this posting I’d like to go over some of the resources available to BlackBerry app developers and how to effectively use them. Continue Reading →
May 26, 2013 Weekend Coder: Invoke the share card
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Peek

One of the core developing principles for BlackBerry 10 apps is the ability for the app to be social. The easiest way to implement this is to use the invocation framework to call the share card. The beauty of using a share card is most of the work is done for you.

The designers of BlackBerry 10 and Cascades wanted an experience where the user never leaves an app, rather flows from one application to another and that is exactly what cards do for your apps.

So as an app developer all you need to do is call the card and pass any information you want to share. This can be illustrated with a simple example.

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May 19, 2013 Weekend Coder: Cascades loves JavaScript
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Peek

Far too often I hear Cascades and C++ in the same sentence and not enough about Cascades and JavaScript. On that same token another common statement I hear about Cascades is QML is for UI and C++ is for logic. Though that is true, what is also true is QML can be used for UI and logic.

The way logic is handled in QML is through the use of JavaScript. At this point you may be asking yourself (or yelling at me through your screen) is I thought JavaScript was only for WebWorks applications!?!?

Well I am about to show you that is not true and give you three examples of how you can implement JavaScript into your Cascades project.

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May 11, 2013 BlackBerry Jam: A developer preview from a developer [Weekend Coder]
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Peek

Alongside the consumer focused BlackBerry Live Conference is the BlackBerry Jam Americas developer conference. We all expect most of the exciting announcements to happen during the “Live“ side of the conference but there are some sessions that could lead to some interesting insight of the future of BlackBerry 10. So in this “Conference Special Edition” of the Weekend Coder series, I thought I’d highlight a few topics from a developer’s point of view. As well as give some conference pointers and tips for any fellow developers attending.

First it should be noted that there is a good spread of introductory level sessions in whatever platform you choose to develop (Air, Android, HTML/WebWorks, and Native) and you should definitely attend if you are new to that platform to get a good overview. I don’t expect you’d hear anything earth shattering in those sessions. Going a bit deeper, you’ll see there a wide variety of topics and a complete list of sessions can be found here. There you can see the more newsworthy goodies are in more advanced sections. Here’s my breakdown of the ones I think have a good chance of interesting news:

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May 04, 2013 Asset Selector: Designing for the Z and Q [Weekend Coder]
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As we can all plainly see, the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 have different screen sizes and aspect ratios. This is obviously because the Q10 has the full QWERTY. More often than not this presents a challenge for app developers. Luckily when coding in Cascades it is easy to code for both aspect ratios using the asset selector.

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Apr 27, 2013 Weekend Coder: HelloWorld
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Weekend Coder is our new series geared toward BlackBerry developers

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