The second-annual BlackBerry Developer Conference is now a part of RIM history. Following last year's DevCon, we had Sharad Mohan, Co-Founder and CEO of Gym Technik, review the first-ever BBDC from his point of view as a new BlackBerry developer. This year, we asked Trevor Chong, Product Director of Gym Technik, to follow up with us on his four days of DevCon 2009 and share his thoughts with everyone by answering a few of our questions. To me, GymTechnik is a perfect example of who RIM targets with an event like the BlackBerry Developer Conference -- young guys, passionate about their product/service and excited at the opportunity in the mobile space and potential developing for BlackBerry has to offer -- who better to review DevCon?! So without further ado, let's turn it over to Trevor!
BlackBerry Developer Conference - Year II in Review
by Trevor Chong, Product Director of Gym Technik
As you know, we have been running our free fitness tracking service to all our members the past year. We would like to thank our users, our Ace and Beta members, and RIM for their great support this past year. We look forward to continue serving the BlackBerry community.
What were the highlights?
I am extremely excited about RIM's new development tools coming for the Adobe suite. Having a design background, I think it will attract a new group of design and web professionals to the BlackBerry. It will make it easier for UI designers to quickly port their designs to the platform, and collaborate with programmers more efficiently.
The Flash announcement was also great. The BlackBerry platform already has very capable multi-media features and this would take it to the next level.
I played with the the Storm 2 and my jaw dropped when I saw EA's "Need For Speed" rendering in full 3D on the device. The Storm 2 is a great device and the new Sure-Press screen is gorgeous and responsive.
RIM also demoed previews of OS X versions of their emulators and development tools. Being a Mac user, I can't wait!
How do you feel about OS 5.0?
Being down at the conference, it was great to see how OS 5.0 will help simplify coding for developers and bring products quicker to market. Both the new API's and Widget technology(bundling web pages into an app) will bring a lot of apps to the platform.
On a personal note, I think everyone should upgrade to OS 5.0. Absolutely feature of OS 5.0 I cannot do without now... flagging e-mails for follow up. Simple but effective. OS 5 has made my Bold 9000 feel like a completely new device. It runs faster, smoother and overall just a better experience. Seeing everyone's spanking new 9700 at DevCon, I now have phone envy.
What were your favourite sessions?
The presentations this year were just awesome. The sessions covered a broad range of topics from the new widget technology in OS 5.0, advanced web techniques available for the OS 5.0 browser and the new openGL graphics API. I was pleasantly surprised this year's conference also had a larger share of more end user/business development focused events, so really there was something for everyone at all levels.
My favorite was "Before You Go to Market: Tips, Tricks and Lessons Learned About Selling Commercial BlackBerry Applications" by Neil Sainsbury. Neil covered a lot of invaluable advice on how developers can provide a better experience for the end user.
"Lessons Learned - Building the 7digital Music Store" by James Shannon from DevelopIQ was also very informative as James shared his experience developing his great looking app for the 7digital Music Store.
Was there time for fun?
Absolutely. This year's spread was as good, if not better than last year. RIM pulled out all the stops in terms of pampering their developers.
The evening events were lots of fun. The BlackBerry Partners Fund Developer Challenge on the first night was very entertaining. Mike Kirkup was a great host and kept the evening light and enjoyable. It was fun hanging out with the RIM team, picking our top faves for the night and seeing if they won.
The second night's DevCon Party was devoted to just hardcore hanging out. Lots of arcade machines, awesome food and live entertainment. You get to connect with everyone you met last year and also meet new ones. There was a great sense of collaboration and community, and it's great as a developer, to feel being part of a larger movement.
Can't complain about the location either. It was smack in the heart of downtown San Francisco so it is a hop-skip away from interesting things to see/do anytime of the day.
Will you attend the conference next year?
Absolutely. I think DevCon is like a trip home during the holidays, to see everyone and put a face to the people you've worked with over the past year. And the things you learn allows you take your app to the next level.
I think as mobile developers, it is easy to forget we are a community as we might work off-site and sell apps to our distributed user base internationally. We sometimes forget the human aspect of building software. We build software for people with people, so it is great to be surrounded with like minds at DevCon.