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Why BlackBerry is awesome - A developer perspective

By Bla1ze on 1 Feb 2014 01:01 am EST
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Back in August of 2013 the fine folks over at MoDev teamed up with BlackBerry to host the Built for BlackBerry $5K Contest. The goal, as you may have guessed by the name, was to help developers create great apps that would qualify for the Built for BlackBerry program. There were cash prizes to be won and each developer who entered would also get a free BlackBerry 10 device. In the end, three winners were chosen: Magic4Square, Aerize Explorer and Charlottesville Ballet.

The developer of Charlottesville Ballet, Steve Jernigan is CEO of Cloudspyre, LLC, has now taken to the MoDev site to explain a little bit of the background process for entering the contest and why it was such a great experience for him. The title of his blog posting says a lot about it - Why BlackBerry is Awesome. Though I do encourage you to read the full post for yourself, here's a bit of what Steve had to say.

We all know the app development opportunities in D.C. are red hot.  As the CEO of an app development company that does work for government contracting firms, it was only a matter of time before I got asked the question “Yeah, but what about BlackBerry?”.  And as the CEO of that same very small app development company, that left it to me to go figure out the answer to that question.  Luckily, MoDev worked with BlackBerry to sponsor a free class on building BlackBerry apps in the middle of last September.

My goal was to create an app that was “Built for BlackBerry” certified.  That means that the app couldn’t be some Android port, but had to be built specifically for the BlackBerry platform so that it conforms to how BlackBerry has engineered their user interface standards.  This meant that I was definitely doing a Cascades app.  These are coded in Qt with a little C++ behind the scenes.  Qt was ridiculously easy.  I think I started building my app during a 1pm Sunday football game and had all the screens flushed out by half-time of the 4pm game.  It was that easy.  The learning curve is by far easier than Android’s SDK and iOS.

So in 3 months I went from doing my first BlackBerry app to being featured in the #1 spot on Built for BlackBerry on the device.  What other platform could that have happened on?  Best of all, when my clients ask me “Yeah, but what about BlackBerry?”, I have the answer.

Once upon a time, developing on BlackBerry OS was a pretty convoluted process. Once upon a time developing on BlackBerry caused some serious frustration issues for developers. In the time since the initial release of the BlackBerry 10 SDK though, that sentiment has changed as have the tools offered to developers. Today, development on BlackBerry has been vastly improved all around. The tools are all available for free, the developer account is free, and the community support is there when needed.

Read the full Why BlackBerry is awesome post

Reader comments

Why BlackBerry is awesome - A developer perspective

82 Comments

'Why BB isn't awesome in general, but it could be for sure!' - Customer perspective... IMHO, this is the very beginning of such deliberations. Customers' interest first, everything else as a natural effect of it.

[...] First ever London smartphone story powered by Z10: www.blackassistant.com

If only the word of how easy it is to develop for BlackBerry was a more accepted idea. BlackBerry, unfortunately, still has the unjustified stigma of not being easy to develop or worth developing for.

My thoughts exactly. The BB10 launch didn't turn the perception around 180 degrees like many thought it would, myself included. These blog posts are positive & help expose the platform in a positive way. One post does nothing but if more people were to express positive sentiments, slowly the ship can turn around. Doesn't have to be solely blog posts, they can be tweets, FB posts etc... but what's important is that they're not only from BlackBerry fan sites. People just LOVE to hate on Blackberry right now & it's going to be a long, hard road back to the Black.

Posted via CB10

I agree. People have that mindset "Ohh BlackBerry, if would be a cumbersome job to develop for their platform ".. what they don't understand is this platform has a bright future and if developers build "Build for BlackBerry "apps, they might soon pay off and be in the elite league soon

Posted via CB10

I think the biggest problem is the issue of user base size. If BlackBerry 10 had 1 billion users, it wouldn't matter how easy or hard it was to develop for. The devs would be there regardless.

Posted via CB10

Look at iOS. The underlying language if iOS is Objective C, which is completely non-transferable. Java (Android, BBOS), C/C++ (BB10) are popular languages in their own right. These languages are used in tons of different platforms. Knowledge of Objective C is useful on iOS and that's pretty much it.

But because the iPhone is so popular, devs don't care. They feel it's worth their time even though it's useful pretty much ONLY for the iPhone.

Posted via CB10

So BlackBerry users now has access to APK through Google /Snap, the Amazon App Store, BlackBerry World and now BB may be the easiest to build for developers ?!! Times are changing...Love BB10! Three OS Updates in one year, smoothest keyboard in the business and a HUB that just makes sense! Time for Mr.Chen to continue this hot start to 2014!

Via The BlackBerry Z10 Experience.

I've been tempted to try my hand at a BlackBerry App. And stories like this are really encouraging to hear!

Posted via CB10

Go for it. I have been going back and forth between Android and BB apps on the Z10. While, of course the built for BB run better what I find interesting is the size of the App. Sometimes the same app on BB is 1/3 the size of the same Android App. Way cool and easier.

That's where BlackBerry should target their resources.

Every app gets their time in the spotlight so it is important to attract future developers.

You catch a wave as it is beginning to rise not at the peak (too uncontrollable) or when the wave has fallen.

Target the developers on the rise.

Posted via CB10

Easy to develop for. Just need to target your software for BlackBerry people. (prosumer)

Leave the craps for Android (they have that covered). Build software for professional targets, and don't be afraid to charge premium prices for a well thought out plan -your end user should not be the 'candy crush' audience.

It will be worth the effort.

CDN BB

Still keen to learn how to code so I can develop apps in spare time. Anyone got advice on where to start?

Posted via CB10

Absolutely. Making use of Qt was the best decision BlackBerry has ever made and the worst Nokia to abadon it. It is a extremely easily learnable but thanks to C++ at the same time unbelivable powerful toolkit. There are still some hickups in combination with Cascades, missing APIs (full duplex call recording), MapView API limitations... but with some more energy we get here the best platform on the market. Not only from a user perspective, but also from a Developer perspective.
And since my Apps BaSA and ClipMan are running headless I can feel the power of BB10. This will lead to a lot of awesome apps. I hope every mobile developer will reach that point of understanding.

Clipman is an awesome app! I can't say enough about Built For BlackBerry apps!

Keep The Faith  BlackBerry Q10 

Thanks a lot. :-) Don't forget to spread the word... ;-)

I applied in the meantime for hub integration approval with ClipMan. I have no idea if BlackBerry will allow it and if it may feel useful or even doable after they sent me the documentation. Clipboard content has normally nothing to do with messaging, but I would say this way we may get even more usecases and benefits from the headless part. And fast accessibility can't be wrong! :-D

This is the kind of post that should be hitting the news headlines on regular basis, and we will see more developers rising.

Keep up to good work..

Z berry are platforms of choice!

It's the inspiration of articles as these that inspire me to continue to develop for BlackBerry. The focus is on building relationships, strengthening the bonds and closing the gap within the entire messaging/communications infrastructure, made up of good people. That being said, the privilege to be a part of BlackBerry in every sense of the word means that as a developer, I can build what people need and will use, to make their lives more productive, inspired to 'Keep Moving', and by implication, to create a new and fresh change agent within their own personal lives. BlackBerry touches the heart~reaches the soul...

It would be great to see this same mindset from other developers. I agree with other comments about what kind of apps the common BlackBerry user needs (professional, productive, and classy), but there is so much crap out there on all platforms it is hard to find the food stuff. That's where CB comes in to headline the best of the best.
BlackBerry needs to continue doing the same then promoting the hell out if it.

I have talked with a local app production house and they were completely devoid of interest in BlackBerry apps, but that was because their clients were not asking.

This was a year ago, so I need to check back and see if that has changed. I have seen a lot of new BlackBerry users where I am, so maybe it will just take a bit more time. If the apps don't come, I don't care so much because this phone really meets all my needs as it is today, but that's just me.

To all the developers, please keep going. Tell your peers in the industry how easy it is... wait, don't. take all our money yourselves. You have a captive and eager consumer, so you have the greatest opportunity now.

Egg, chicken? I have my z30, so I suppose that is the farm!

Tapped and flicked from my BlackBerry Z30!

Tapping and flicking is great, but one still needs to proof read before posting! I meant "good" apps not "food" apps :) though I suppose good food apps are a good thing too.

Cheers!

Tapped and flicked from my BlackBerry Z30!

This topic has been beat to death. Blackberry has so many advantages but why don't they sell? Well I own a note 3which I got when I switched from my old beloved z10. This is not a rant about how the new blackberry sacked because it didn't. My issue was with the people that were running the show in which I lot confidence in. I'm hoping that Chen is going to be the difference maker because I would love to get a blackberry again. It may need a larger screen now but none the less.

So it was never the apps, os, software or hardware. I just knew that if they were not willing to do the things needed to keep the hard-core fans happy then how would they ever gain more of them.

End rant.

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

Not picking on you or anything but why would you switch phones because of the leadership of the company? Did you ever read up on the leadership of ford before buying a car? I hear this often and it's weird because BlackBerry seems to be the only company people check the stock price before buying a phone.

Posted via CB10

Great point Canadian Nick! Also, OP, try a Z30 if it is screen space you want. It is an amazing phone.

Tapped and flicked from my BlackBerry Z30!

I agree. Nokia's stock was in the shitter and was bought by Microsoft. Microsoft had a brand new OS that pretty much abandoned all their other users. Windows gets more love than BB. HTC is in the shitter as well and has a hard time selling enough phones or being profitable. Much less is said of them than BlackBerry. Don't get me wrong, management was doing a terrible job. When Thorsten came in I was happy. He did his job. Focus on BB10 and get the phones out. Missteps were made there too but when his job was done they hired Chen. Chen will finish leaning out the company. And he won't be foolhardy enough to produce millions of phone that may not sell. That was Heins's biggest mistake, counting his chickens before they were hatched. Manufacturing fewer phones that they knew would sell through, and immediately becoming profitable again on hardware would have changed Wall Street sentiment faster. Selling out of phones in my mind would have been better than a $1Billion write down. Imagine the buzz that sellouts would have created. BlackBerry sells out in first month and turns profitable overnight. Win win. But that's just me.

Posted via CB10

Well said. This is exactly what I'm sure I have argued before. Control device stock and sell out. It is a false sense of demand. But it creates buzz. Something a fresh new platform needed more than anything. That and pricing them with a lower profit margin. They only priced them high to please investors when they should have told their investors to have some patience and watch it grow rather than look for huge profits right away. Horrible mistake. They serve their customers more than they serve their investors. Serve the customers first and the investors will follow.

Posted via CB10

Stock price does not always means trust in management. Playbook, example of why I switched out. I simply did not want to be burned again buying a device that was going to be cut-off with stalled development so soon (talking about around 2 years ago, I paid $500 for it) and never got up to the hype the company made about it. I don't see where the problem is in that. Its good to see blackberry gaining "traction", but I probably won't be going back, considering I've set shop somewhere else, with app purchases and whatnot. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who switched for distrust and ran-out-patience. If people get burned buying cars, then they won't buy that brand. As per your example, there are plenty of people that have gotten really crappy quality cars from ford and is pretty much why there is a stigma with that company or any american car manufacturer for that matter. Plenty of car sellers will just tell you under or over the table that european cars are a better buy compared to american as they are more reliable, hold better resale value and provide better mpg for the power. Its funny that you mention ford though. If you were from the states you wouldn't have said ford, all the major american manufacturers have had to be bailed out by the government due to bad decisions and bad quality control. So yes, people do read on the health of a company's management, maybe not everyone but, but people want longevity, reliability and stability in management and its decisions. If they don't read upon it, they just go with what the consequences of such decisions have been, e.g, word of mouth, reviews, company analysis, etc etc.

I understand what your saying about the car thing, i wasn't picking on ford or any other manufacturer, it was just an example of how people use BlackBerry stock market price to not buy their products when the average consumer doesn't check stock price on even cars when purchasing.

I like my PlayBook better than my ipad for a few reasons, mainly it uses industry standard cables, USB mass storage, plays most video files out of the box. I don't feel burned at all, however I would have loved it if BlackBerry 10 would have worked on it.

Most people forget about apples history and how bad they did for years. Don't write BlackBerry off just yet, it may never do what apple did but it doesn't have to.

As far as your app ecosystem goes and being tied to it, I can understand that and for now it makes sense. With google working on a new android, Samsung working on anos, ios7 being near end of its life a lot of people might be in for a change soon enough. BlackBerry 10 might have a foothold being the next gen os first.

Posted via CB10

This is good to hear I would love more native BlackBerry apps. I almost always buy the apps recommend on crackberry, for the price of a coffee it's worth it.

What makes me mad about the app situation is how well some of the big names android apps run on 10.2.1 and yet they will not repackage and submit to BlackBerry World. Netflix is on everything, I think my toaster has it. This is BS and now especially feels a bit personal.

Posted via CB10

We started developing with Cascades before BlackBerry 10 was released and we are still developing. Our first app was sponsored by RIM. Now we are developing more. We develop for enterprises and consumers.

It has been a long hard road because in it's early days the tools were really bad.

BlackBerry has then made great progress.

Now I can firmly conclude:

The architecture of BlackBerry 10 Cascades is absolutely superior to all other mobile app development platforms!

IOS and Android dev platforms will soon reach end of life. Windows mobile in its core is still the messy piles on top of the old win 32 that has already died.

But, this is a big but, the implementation of Cascades is not a fine work yet. Compared to iOS dev environment Cascades is rough.

BlackBerry almost closed the gap. But now I am not impressed by the progress of Cascades. There is a chance the gap will widen again because Apple and Google engineers are acting fast.

BlackBerry must hurry up and do a finer job for Cascades developers.

The BlackBerry community might help by generating ideas for apps. If today someone has a good idea the first ones to turn to for salesare android and and IOS, because of size of market. For all its goodness, it has now taken BlackBerry over 9 months to port BBM to android and IOS. How is this possible? Why so long? Is it that difficult to take a BlackBerry 10 app and convert it to the other platforms? Something is strange.

Posted via CB10

It's awesome that the ceo of cloudspyre would write a nice article but they, like most cross platform app developers, make very few mentions on their website about BlackBerry dev. They mention over and over about their Android/iOS knowledge and availability of apps. It's a shame dev companies (and major brands) leave out mentioning they support BB10 on their sites, commercials, advertisements, etc. Hopefully (and not just picking on cloudspyre) this changes one day.

Posted via CB10

Didn't mean to slight BlackBerry, we just hadn't updated the site in a few months. BlackBerry has been called out where it's appropriate on our site now. Thanks for the heads up!

Maybe they are trying to keep it a secret so they keep a greater chunk of the BlackBerry pie?

Really, I agree. For Canadian investors, try the BMO InvestorLine app for BB10. It is really good... now they just need to bring out a banking app.

Tapped and flicked from my BlackBerry Z30!

I would definitely be interested in signing up for a MOOC on BlackBerry 10 mobile application development. Who's with me? Who's with me? :D

Posted via CB10 from my awesome Z10STL100-1/10.2.1.1925

Now that I've written nearly 100 Cascades tutorials and made a handful of videos, I've considered organizing them into some sort of course that is also tied along with the various official docs/samples/videos. I imagine there's enough info out there to create this. Maybe one day...

Posted via CB10

@brian scheirer Make it happen. This will definitely make it easier to get more developers and would-be devs on board. I'd love to see BlackBerry take the lead on this and partner with some universities to offer recognized certification in BlackBerry OS 10 development.

Posted via CB10 from my awesome Z10STL100-1/10.2.1.1925

Good post by the CEO. Makes me want to go make an app now lol. Thanks for posting this B1aze

Posted via CB10

As a "weekend coder" I was astonished easy it was to write a simple but great looking BlackBerry App. I just wish there was more financial incentive to develop a more sophisticated app. But it is fun anyway.

Posted via CB10

No offense, but the ballet app is not exactly rocket science. Build Uber or AirB2B faster on BB10 and then I would be impressed.

I couldn't agree more. How dare he flaunt his positive experience and then insist on writing about it by using proper sentence structure, punctuation and grammar.

no android app is working after i update new os version assholes i will never ever suggest anyone to purchase blackberry one the worst device in history

Posted via CB10

We value your comments and concerns. Please stay on the line and we will get to you shortly. Wait time in 4.5 hrs.

Maybe you would like to express your displeasure using some milder words.

That would add more weight and you would be taken more seriously....

iPhone for me? Scr... ahem Q that! (posted from the latter)

Now we just need more developers to give it a try and of course spread the word.

Man, sometimes I feel like BlackBerry will take years for people to finally recognize a superior OS.

I was ready to flee to android over the lack of apps but then i realised, why give up what is arguably the best OS just to get more apps especially now BlackBerry is really making progress at closing the gap.

Posted via CB10 on my Z10(& i am luvin it!)

This is great news. BUT, if you're a developer talk to us about why BlackBerry 10 is still missing those core, about 10 apps that BlackBerry knows everybody wants???

Posted via CB10

I'm not saying anyone is wrong, and I'm certain that there are merits to both sides. somebody should talk to emacf1 re: GPSLoggerII... as pointed out in thread below, fairly difficult/roundabout way of doing things...
I really think that was a superb app, and even though it's rare, but the saying "best things in the world are free".... for me, it was the free app that i used the most and it truly impressed me!

Can we not build the GPSLoggerII in native BB10 before Superb Owl is done? :)

http://forums.crackberry.com/blackberry-z10-f254/gpslogger-z10-786050/

Mythology. The reality is quite different, if you take a look at the app Store and Google Play, you'll realise that immediately.

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

My dick awesome developer u mother fuckers no android apps are working since I have a new asshole update

Posted via CB10

Have you thought of tapping the app. That is how you usually start it. Just saying, perhaps you forgot.

Posted via CB10

Well once you download an App, usually you have to tap it to start it. Just thinking you might have forgotten the last step. Sort of like forgoing to be courteous. I think you will find that people have little time for your potty mouth on this forum. Time to act an appropriate age.

Posted via CB10