My article yesterday on headless apps sparked up quite the discussion. At the time I'm writing this the blog has accumulated nearly 500 comments and yes, I've read each and every one of them.  Rather than attempt to reply throughout the comments I thought it would be better to address as much as I could in a singular post. 

First off, I stand by my original article. That being said I think some clarification on a few points is in order. I did speak to many developer before writing the article and read posts made on the official BlackBerry developer forum.   I don't claim to speak for all developers and I do apologize to any developers that may have interpreted that I was speaking as a collective for the entire developer community. After my article went live I received a ton of feedback not only from the comments, twitter, BBM and email – both positive and negative. The overwhelming feedback I personally received from other developers was positive and appreciative of speaking out against the shortcomings of headless applications. I wasn't speaking of what is going to come in the future, I am basing it on what is available right now. People are getting tired of waiting....

Now to clarify my intent of my article, at its core, was to help the end users understand why headless apps won't be available in large numbers when OS 10.2 is released and for BlackBerry to understand that they are falling short on what their users really want. For many users, its hard to understand the challenges developers face when writing apps, not only technical challenges but other factors such as an app being approved for long run headless.

Many developers pointed out in my article the portion where I discussed developers splitting the the UI and logic, so this next section is directed at developers.

It is good coding practice to split UI and logic, I agree on that, I never said it wasn't. It was my fault for poorly explaining my point there. I have developer friends that send me code to look at when they have trouble or are looking for ways to improve certain code. Based on that I've seen developers using a few lines of Javascript in QML to do some simple logic (some of it based on the code samples BlackBerry provided on github). So I wasn't saying or implying that it was a bad thing that developers have to re-write some code, I was using it to illustrate that there is some additional work involved, again for end user understanding. The problem with splitting the app is that the last official word that I've seen from BlackBerry is that the headless portion of the app cannot be debugged (this was from a the 10.2 webcast chat as posted by a member of BlackBerry Developer Relations). If this has changed I may have missed it, but I've looked for an update from them and could not find it, but if it has then by all mean, please post a link down in the comments. 

Now moving on, some people have said they are happy that BlackBerry is going to be manually approving long running headless apps. Now I wouldn't have a problem except for 3 things. 

  1. The problems myself and others experienced with getting approved for Built for BlackBerry until the changes were made last month.  I don't have a lot of confidence that BlackBerry will be fair in their approval process or will have a proper recourse of  dealing with denied apps. That part is my personal opinion. 
  2. Turn around time. It's been 5 weeks since the initial opening of the application process and I don't know any developer that's been approved yet. I realize this is just the start and things will improve here, but without them giving us a specific time for turn around (say 10 business days) this could also be problematic. Again this point is just my opinion. 
  3. Android. Android ports submitted to BB World can run in the background without the restrictions that are placed on native developers. For those who made the point that the restrictions that BlackBerry has put in place are good for the reasons of CPU/Memory/Spyware etc... the argument holds little water if Android apps are given free reign. If you've run Skype on your BB10 device you probably know what I'm talking about. If native apps have to go through this approval process and meet certain requirements why aren't ported Android apps subject to the same? It would seem contradictory would it not?

So it all boils down to this, my post stirred up a lot of attention, positive and negative, which is great to see, developers and users alike are passionate about this issue. I think the poll in the last article sums it up very well 83% of users want the choice to hide active frames. BlackBerry, are you listening now? Lets find a way to give people what they want. The suggestion I made before about long pressing on the X on an active frame (not a short press as some interpreted it as) then prompting the user to hide the active frame and placing a badge on the icon may not be the best solution. But lets look at ways we can give users and developers what they want without all the hassle - while still being conscientious of device resources. 

Maybe BlackBerry will have something in store for BBJam Asia next week and hopefully we can get some clarification on their plan for where headless apps are heading.