It’s been said that BlackBerry has been making huge strides in treating developers to a simple yet powerful experience on their platform. I’m a BlackBerry 10 developer and I’m going to talk a bit today about what BlackBerry does to make developing a BB10 app not only a worthwhile opportunity but also a sophisticated and rewarding experience.
First, let’s talk about screen sizes. The Z10 is the first device on the market with its 1280×768 screen. This display resolution is bittersweet for developers in a way. Although it’s an amazing display it is not going to be the touch-phone resolution in the future; it will be replaced in market by a phone (or phones) with a 1280×720 display. What a lot of developers will do is design for 1280×720 and provide an extra aesthetic for the extra 24 pixels on either side. This isn’t nearly as bad as what happened with the iPhone 5 launch where nearly every app was (and many still are) black-barred on either side. With this scenario we get to start with the larger screen size and crop down by 24 pixels instead of stretch up by 88. I cannot stress enough the importance of this move; it’s a big deal.
Developers that already have their PlayBook applications running at 1024×600 can keep their layout designed for the same shape (16:9) of screen if they plan for the 1280×720 displays. The Q10 physical keyboard phone has a 720×720 display. Not only is a 1:1 aspect ratio the easiest thing in the world to design for it has the same dimensions as the Z10 width and presumably the same pixel density meaning you can keep all of your layout the same size.
If you find me someone who says that isn’t a big deal I’ll find you someone who has never developed for Android or legacy BlackBerrys before. Those developers moving to this platform will be very happy.
I’ve talked before about what goodies we’re given to work with and more specifically what BlackBerry is doing in the open source community. What that means for BlackBerry users is that your favorite apps are going to have the same powerhouse back end that you’ve seen on the other smartphone platforms. What’s going to make it stand out though is the set of UI tools BlackBerry gives us with Cascades.
Cascades is a UI framework that simply leaps ahead of the solutions you find on iOS, Android or WP8. I’m trying not to sound too much like a salesman for BB10 but it’s sincerely a real treat. It’s built on top of familiar technologies that we can use in house and it’s easy enough to use that our creative teams can use it without needing to know the code underneath.
Finally let’s go over briefly what it’s like to code for the platform. BlackBerry 10 is built on top of the same OS as the PlayBook made by a great Canadian company called QNX. QNX has always been widely regarded by its customers for its speed and stability. I could talk for days about the QNX micro-kernel, what that means and why it’s really cool but I’ll leave that talk for the water cooler. Basically QNX is the beating heart of BB10 and it gives developers an old and tried yet modern platform to develop on. Developer or not this is great news for all of us.