Before you can begin First, you’ll need a computer running Windows 2000 SP1 or later, Windows XP, or Windows Vista. Any desktop or laptop produced in the last few years should be sufficient, but as with any software development, the more RAM and CPU speed you have, the better your experience will be. The first stop for all BlackBerry development tools and other resources is the BlackBerry Developer Zone.
you’ll find free downloads, whitepapers, the developer knowledge base, and the BlackBerry Developer Forums. As a BlackBerry developer, you should get to know this site very well.
The BlackBerry Developer Zone
While you’re looking at this page, you might as well sign up for a developer account – it’s free and quick, and you’ll need a login to download the developer tools. RIM does offer higher-level paid developer programs with additional support and other benefits, but you can develop and distribute applications with the free account.
Installing the Development Environment
There are two BlackBerry development environments produced by RIM. The BlackBerry Java Development Environment (JDE), and the BlackBerry JDE Plug-in for Eclipse. Both are very functional and have been used by developers to produce professional applications. The JDE has been around longer and is a bit more mature, but almost everything possible with the JDE can also be accomplished with the Eclipse Plug-in. The Eclipse Plug-in leverages the entire Eclipse development platform, which includes a world-class source code editor and a lot of third-party plug-ins. Ultimately, the choice is a matter of personal preference. We’ll explore both in the next chapter, so you’ll get a better idea of what the real-world differences are. There are no issues with installing both the JDE and the JDE Plug-in for Eclipse on the same computer, so if you’re interested in exploring both and don’t mind the extra time and effort, feel free to follow through the install instructions for both later in this.
After deciding between the JDE and the JDE Plug-in, you’ll need to decide on a JDE version. Each version of the JDE (or each version of the component pack for the Eclipse Plug-in) corresponds to a major version of the BlackBerry operating system (OS). BlackBerry does a good job of keeping their OS backward compatible, so something developed for OS 4.2 generally will work the same on OS 4.3 and higher. However, you may want to use some features that are only available in a later OS. A safe minimum is 4.2, which covers all trackball devices and later and is the minimum version supported by BlackBerry App World. The one exception to all of this is the touch screen BlackBerry Storm, which runs OS 4.7 and can be temperamental with applications built using older versions of the JDE. You can run applications compiled with versions of the JDE earlier than JDE v4.7 on the Storm, and they will work. However, by default, they’ll be run in Compatibility Mode,
meaning the user experience won’t be ideal. To avoid Compatibility Mode, you must compile your application with JDE v4.7 or higher. In many cases, you can just recompile the same source code. The bottom line is that if you’re planning on targeting the Storm, you should be sure to get the JDE or JDE Plug-in v4.7 in addition to any other versions. Before installing the BlackBerry development tools, you’ll need to install the Java SE.The version or versions you will have to install depends on the version of the BlackBerry platform you want to target. For most developers, downloading Java SE JDK v6.0 is a good choice – it will let you develop for BlackBerry Device Software version 4.2 and later, which covers all BlackBerry devices introduced in the last three years or so. More specific information is available on the Developer Zone
Installing the BlackBerry JDE
The JDE is a fully integrated stand-alone environment, so if you have the appropriate version of the Java Development Kit (JDK) installed, you just need to download the appropriate version of the JDE installer and run it. Everything you need for BlackBerry development is included in the JDE – from writing code using the built-in editor, to debugging using the array of BlackBerry device simulators available, to building and signing your application for deployment onto real devices.This shows the BlackBerry JDE as it will appear after being launched for the first time.
The BlackBerry JDE with the excellent (included) Samples workspace loaded, and a Java source file opened for editing
Other JDE Versions
Each JDE version is a completely different package, so if you want to specifically target different versions of the BlackBerry API, you’ll need to download more than one JDE version. Fortunately, the JDE project and workspace descriptor files will work across all current versions of the JDE, so you can open the same project in different versions.
Installing the BlackBerry JDE Plug-in for Eclipse
Obviously, you’ll need to download the Eclipse integrated development environment You need version 3.4 (Ganymede), which is shown in Figure, but beyond that any of the Java Eclipse packages will do – you only need the basic Eclipse IDE for Java Developers, but if you want the additional Java EE features, they won’t affect the BlackBerry JDE Plug-in. If you already have Eclipse version 3.4 installed, you can use that as well.
These are some of the available Eclipse packages. If you don't already have Eclipse installed, choose Eclipse IDE for Java Developers.
Eclipse setup is simply a matter of unzipping the file to your PC.Once you’ve gotten Eclipse set up, download the JDE Plug-in installer and run it. It includes the JDE v4.5 component pack by default.
Using Other JDE Versions with Eclipse
Other JDE versions are supported within the same environment with downloadable component packs. To install other component packs for Eclipse, download the appropriate zip file corresponding to your component pack from the BlackBerry Developer Zone, and from the Eclipse IDE choose Help ➤ Software Updates, and click the Available Software tab.
The Eclipse software updates dialog is accessible from by choosing Software Updates from the Help menu.
Under the Available Software tab, click Add Site. Then, click Archive, and browse for your zip file.
Select Add Site and then Archive to browse to your component pack.
Make sure the check boxes appropriate to the component pack are checked in the tree view, and click Install to continue.
Make sure all the check boxes for your archive are checked before clicking Install.
Follow the install wizard, and your component pack will be available for use.
Downloading Additional Simulators
Each version of the JDE and version of the JDE component pack comes with a set of default simulators configured to work with the environment. RIM provides many more simulators, however. These are very useful for testing how your application functions with different screen resolutions or input methods. The simulators can be downloaded from the Developer Zone simulators.jsp. Make sure to download simulators that correspond with your JDE or JDE Plug-in Component pack version.
The Simulators Download page showing some of the many choices
Installing Desktop Software
If you want to load your application onto a BlackBerry device directly from your computer (i.e., without having to upload to a web server and download to your device over the wireless connection), you’ll need to install the BlackBerry Desktop Manager, which includes the device drivers for the BlackBerry. You may already have this installed, since it comes on a CD with your device or. You’ll also need this to be able to debug your application on a device using your USB cable.
You can use the BlackBerry Desktop Manager to load applications from your computer to your device.
Getting Code Signing Keys
For basic applications, you can compile and run on real BlackBerry devices with no further involvement from RIM using the free tools. However, if you want to use certain features (such as the BlackBerry persistent store, cryptography APIs, and embeddable web browser) or if you want to allow your application to do things like automatically start, you’ll need code signing keys from RIM. The code signing keys are only required to use controlled APIs from an application running on a device; you can run an application on the simulator that uses controlled APIs without having to sign it.
Since code signing keys usually only take a day or two to receive and a set of keys is only $20, it’s a good idea to get them while you’re setting up your development environment—almost every BlackBerry application ends up needing to use at least a few controlled APIs. When filling in the key request form, remember the PIN you choose. You’ll need it to install the keys into your JDE. Because it’s sometimes a point of confusion, it’s worth pointing out that your signing key PIN is not related to a BlackBerry device PIN in any way.
Installing Your Code Signing Keys
Once you’ve applied for your signing keys, you should receive three e-mails from RIM, each containing one of the code signing keys. Each gives access to a different part of the API, and you should install all three on the same PC. Follow the steps in this section for each of the three keys. If you’ve installed the JDE, the appropriate file associations will have been made during install, and you can just double-click each of the keys to start the registration process.From the JDE Plug-in for Eclipse, select Install Signature Keys from the BlackBerry menu. Both methods will look the same from this point onwards.
NOTE: Because the key database format sometimes changes, you should install using the earliest version of the JDE or JDE Plug-in you have and copy the key database to later versions as outlined later in this section.
If this is the first of the three keys you’ve installed, you’ll be prompted to create a new public/private key pair.
When installing your first key, you’ll be prompted to create a new key pair.
Click Yes in this dialog, and you’ll be asked for a private key password to protect your key file. Remember this password – you’ll be asked for it every time you want to sign your application. You’ll then be asked to generate some random data by moving your mouse pointer around. A word of warning: this will seem like more fun than it should.
Generating random information for your new key pair—whee!
After this, you’ll be asked to enter the PIN you provided when you applied for your keys, and the private key password you just entered. Do this, and your key will be installed and ready to use.
Registering a code signing key with the JDE
For the next two keys, you’ll already have generated your key pair, so you’ll just have to enter the PIN and private key password.
Installing the Signing Keys for Different JDE Versions
Once you’ve created your key pair and installed your three keys, you’ll probably want them to be available for each version of the JDE or JDE Plug-in Component Pack you have installed. The key information is stored in three files:
These are located in the following default locations; make the appropriate substitutions for JDE version and nondefault install locations on your system:
To make your keys available for different JDE or JDE Plug-in Component pack versions, simply copy these files into the appropriate bin directory. It’s also a very good idea to keep a backup of these files and your original key files if you ever have to rebuild your development environment.
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Setting The Stage
What Makes A Blackberry Application?
User Interface Basics
Beyond The Basics Of User Interfaces
Hello Out There! Making A Network-enabled Application
Where Am I? Using Location-based Services
Getting Your App Out There: Packaging And Publishing
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