Weekend Coder – 10 months of coding for BlackBerry 10

By Brian Scheirer on 30 Nov 2013 05:08 pm EST

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).

By early May an update to 10.1 brought additional APIs most notably support for hardware keyboard devices (Q10 and Q5). In August the most current SDK, version 10.2, was released rounding out many more APIs and brought the much requested (and hotly debated) “headless app” support. And just last week, on the WebWorks side BlackBerry is aligning with the Apache Cordova which is expected to bring enhanced tools and improve cross-platform development for web apps.

In addition to new APIs throughout the past 10 months, BlackBerry has made advances in the programs we can use to build apps. The Native Momentics IDE has received two major revisions which, in my opinion, have vastly improved the developing experience. If you prefer Visual Studio for your IDE, there is a nice plugin for creating BB10 apps. There are also a variety of other IDE’s you can use such as Qt Creator, Unity, and Marmalade.

Taking a look at the future, 10.2.1 brings an unlocked Android runtime and permissions for long running headless apps.  And even though there is no current road map for 10.3, I’m sure BlackBerry is hard at work on it.

Now I’d like to share my own results of the past 10 months. As some of you may know and as the name of this series implies, I work full time and code apps primarily in the evening and on weekends. So from that perspective, I can say without a doubt that BlackBerry 10 has been a successful hobby for me. Here is a quick summary of my personal numbers:

  • 12 Apps; 6 paid and 6 free/freemium, 6 apps and 6 games.
  • 100,000 Downloads. This includes users’ initial download, reinstalling apps, and installing updates.
  • 6,300 App purchases ranging from $0.99 to $3.99.
  • 1,800 In-app purchases ranging from $0.99 to $2.99.
  • $10,000 in gross sales (BlackBerry/Bango/Digital River then take about 35%)

If you take a look at my apps in BlackBerry World, you will see that I cover a variety of app/games. My apps range from utilities for SCUBA diving to puzzle/logic games. Pretty much, I coded types of apps I like and I thought others may enjoy too. On the note of income, I wouldn’t say I’ve had enough success to do this as my sole source of income but it sure does beat out other hobbies which usually cost money. But more importantly, I have met so many awesome “BlackBerry people” in this community that I am glad I decided code apps for BlackBerry 10. I definitely plan on continuing my developing efforts and encouraging others to do the same.

I know we have a lot developers here on CrackBerry, so feel free to sound off in the comments about your 10 months of BlackBerry 10.

Reader comments

Weekend Coder – 10 months of coding for BlackBerry 10


What are your feelings on Cascades as a development platform? Better than Android? Same? Different?

Posted via CB10

I don't code Android so I can't really compare. But I can say that coding in Cascades has been a breeze. Everything I have ever wanted to do is always straight forward. Great docs provided on developer.blackberry.com

Posted via CB10

Agree with most replies. I've developped (sometimes the same app) on BB Java, BB 10, Android, Windows Phone and Tizen.

I feel that cascades is more modern and efficient than Android. Qml is the best design language I have ever seen (with RIP JavaFx Script :( ), mostly thanks to its clear syntax and the ability to be dynamic with Javascript.
But I put WindowsPhone on the same level than Cascades. Xaml is not as good as Qml, but C# and .Net is wonderful to develop, better than Qt/C++.
Tizen native SDK is completly out of the challenge, I'm wondering if I prefer the development on old Blackberry java.

Thanks for the report and the response. I hope developers continue to develop native apps for the BlackBerry after 10.2.1 is released.

Personally, I think that Cascades oozes professionalism and I would really like to see developers continuing to use it. I find both OS7 and Android are outdated and very clunky.

I would like to know your opinion on the future of Cascades?

Posted via CB10

Totally agree with @qbo and @Brian, Cascades apps are relatively easy to build and have a very smooth and professional feel. My first app was written for Android, and I rewrote it in Cascades for BB10. The first Cascades version took less lines of code had more features than the Android one!

In general I find QML and building Cascades UI much more straightforward and easier than Android. I am not a designer so the fact that I can build smooth, fast and professional looking UI with Cascades easily, is a big advantage. It's just too bad that Cascades apps can't be easily ported to other platforms.


Posted via CB10

OK. So now you have me interested. Are there any electrical power engineers out there that would be interested in working on a project to develop load flow analysis using Cascades? I will be kicking this project off in the new year.

Posted via CB10

Thanks for the detailed insight. It was nice see things from a developer's perspective.

Posted via CB10

The Dive Plan... it calculates dive tables. Doesn't have a true dive log on it. I plan on eventually adding one, just haven't had the time.

Posted via CB10

I would like to program some apps for BB10, where do you recommend I start? I have an understanding of C and C++ from university (some time ago) but have never attempted something like this.

Posted via CB10

I've spent the past few months working with Cascades and it is quite a pleasant platform to work with. Since you have a bit of a background in C++, Cascades all the way.

I mean quite literally where do I start? is there somewhere that I can find a what software I need and what tips on how to build apps from scratch

Posted via CB10

It's not as straightforward as that at all. The answer probably depends on what stratosphere you fall into as a developer.

While that is true... there are plenty of iOS and Android devs who have made less than me in the past 10 months.

So yes the highest paid devs probably make more on other platforms but I assume there are devs that are on all 4 major platforms that make less than a dev that is on only 1.

All depends on excution, marketing, etc that would determine popularity and ultimately income.

Posted via CB10

First off, congratulations on what looks to be a successful hobby. That said, I would have to think that your experience on BlackBerry would not represent the average developer. This isn't a Blackberry phenomenon, but rather a popularity thing. You are a popular developer who's got his name out there -- good for you! Several hobby devs I talked into trying BB10 have had much less success, despite high quality apps. I think the Crackberry effect (or MacRumors effect, or Android Central effect, or WP Central effect) has a rather large impact on stats like these. Still, it's good to see someone doing well in BB World, and giving back to the community.

You think that is common for most developers? 600,000 of the apple apps haven't even been downloaded once. Per user BBRY users pend more on apps than anyone. Android the least but obviously they have the numbers of users.

"it sure does beat out other hobbies which usually cost money" ... I couldn't agree more. That said, I'm starting to wonder if my "hobby" time would be better served on other platforms.

Things are leaps and bounds better than what they used to be for BBOS. But there is still room for improvement. The Built for BlackBerry program had some major missteps, communication still remains a problem with programs like headless apps, push infrastructure. Need better APIs more quickly for the new things like BBM Channels and things that BlackBerry excels at.

If it's written in Cascades/C++ using specific BlackBerry10 APIs then you'd have to rewrite a lot(if not all) of it, if it's written using WebWorks, Unity, plain Qt, Sencha, Cordova, etc. then you don't have to do anything.

Pretty much the same story (minus the #s).
Started developing it as a hobby in the evenings/weekends/in-between school after a full-time co-op job and the journey so far has been quite awesome!
Totally planning to take summers off from school and work and hack some awesome apps!
btw, my app is called "StockDaddy Turbo"!

I have been thinking about this in the back of my mind, this is inspires me, great thread!

Rockin and Rollin with my BB Z10 - Posted via CB 10

Great article. I have a request for BlackBerry though... is it possible to make the documentation available as pdf or zip file of the website... the idea is to still have access to those documents offline...

Z10 STL100 -1 - Channel C000194AE

The problem with coding in Cascades is that Tablet OS 2.1 does not support the Cascade libraries. So millions of PlayBook owners and prospective app buyers are left out. The plan was to migrate it to OS 10, but it has not happened. The file structures are foreign on the legacy PlayBooks as well.

Posted via CB10

Its great to know a developers perspective about BlackBerry 10 platform. It gives us the true picture of things. I think for a new OS to have achieved so much in a short span of 10 months is an achievement. Things somehow just seem to be falling on track since John Chen's joining. Just positivity around blackberry overall. Lets just hope Q4 is better than the other quarters.

Posted from my SuperHuman Q10

You helped me a lot to be a better bb10 programmer Brian. Thank you so much. :)

Posted via CB10

Thanks for sharing your experience with dev for blackberry, its pretty motivating read to get others to wanna develop

Posted via CB10

I'm no way a developer in profession, but due to my excessive curiosity, lots of reading and research, and by the help of Brian's blog here in Crackberry and in BBcascades.com I could say now that I could simple code now and it's fun. Here's my latest app inspired by the devastating typhoon #haiyan, very simple but powerful. Target market are tourist visiting my country. Thank you very much Brian! - OliverTwist@horhe316 Check out ICE Philippines in BlackBerry World! You can find it at http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/41764877

You are very welcome! And that is awesome that I helped (indirectly) in all of your apps. Your ICE Philippines one looks great, hope it helps people out there.

Posted via CB10

Thanks for doing this series. Your articles were very helpful and perfectly tuned for a weekend coder such as myself.

My ZeeTen strikes again! (Z10STL100-3/

Very impressive. As a user, this gives me confidence that BlackBerry developers have heart. Have no knowledge of programming and wasn't even going to read the article BUT so glad I did. Keep it up.


Hey Brian. I'm not sure we've ever met -- I am a BB developer like yourself, although I've found very little time for it over the last 8 months. Thanks for this article, I love reading this kind of thing. Thanks too for being open about your earnings -- I'm a numbers guy, so I find the quantitative stuff very interesting as well.

Not sure either, however I am familiar with your apps from your blog and I believe BB dev blog did a thing about you a long time back...

Same here about the numbers (background in mechanical engineering) plus I don't see any reason to hide them. Figure others could use them as a frame of reference good or bad. Obviously results for others will vary.

Hello everyone!

Srry to disturb u on this thread.

Can anyone help me up vid os issues on my BlackBerry z10.
Plss reply asap its urgent.


Posted via CB10

I also was excited to learn how to code for BlackBerry but since I didn't have a dev alpha, I started coding for the Playbook. I kinda regret that decision since now I have to start over to code for my z10. I am glad it worked out for you and I did enjoy reading all your post even though I never got to apply this knowledge.

Posted via CB10

Hahaha Brian I just noticed that your avatar pic has "BS" on it. That's funny. Your stuff are definitely not BS though. Unlike those fake "developers" who keep putting app generator junk on BB World that keep trying to pass it off as something else... And charging for it even! Really pisses me off.. Really enjoy Logic Puzzles, Visual Connection and Combo Pics. Keep up the good work! Hope to see more apps from you :)