RIM Strengthens Developer Tools

The company said it wants to bring the power of the Web to BlackBerry apps, and it will release developer toolkits that support Gears, Eclipse, Visual Studio, and more.
With an upcoming mobile application store set to launch in a few months, Research In Motion unveiled upgraded developer tools to enable content creators to make richer, more-compelling applications for BlackBerry handsets.

The company said it wanted developers to be able to harness the power of the Web, and a new toolkit in 2009 will have a plug-in for Eclipse developers, new features for the BlackBerry plug-in for Microsoft's Visual Studio, as well as support for Gears.

"As the BlackBerry Browser evolves to provide customers with a richer, more desktop-like experience, we are introducing powerful new Web development tools and technologies to help developers create a more robust and optimal Web experience for BlackBerry smartphone users," said Alan Brenner, senior VP for the BlackBerry platform, in a statement. "Supporting Web technologies and services is part of our ongoing commitment to providing best-in-class tools and services for mobile application development on the BlackBerry platform."

With the tools for Web development, content makers will be able to build rich applications using HTML, JavaScript, and XML that get packaged and executed as native Java applications on BlackBerry handsets.

RIM said Gears support will let developers build highly responsive standalone Web apps for BlackBerry that can be used in and out of network coverage. It will include database and multithreaded JavaScript execution, as well as local cache.

Third-party developers also will be able to create their own push applications, as RIM will be offering APIs for its push technology. The push APIs will be gradually released over the next few quarters, RIM said.

The push APIs would be rolled out quicker, but the company wants to make sure that security remains the highest priority. David Yach, RIM's CTO for software, said everyone would be "in a world of hurt if there's some serious security problem on BlackBerry."