BlackBerry 10 From a Developer’s Vantage #BlackBerry10


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.

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  • David Michael

    you Canadians and Blackberry..when are you going to wake up and realize the world don’t give two shits about BB!10

  • Rishi Oswal

    I don’t know if what you are saying is true. Engadget, and several other websites around the web have recently posted news that Thorsten backtracked on these plans and announced future blackberry devices will keep the 1280×768 resolutions rather than move to 1280 x 720 for the next generation devices. This contradicts what blackberry announced last year..

    Do you know for certain that they are moving to 1280×720 or is engadget correct in posting that they are sticking with 1280×768?

  • Rishi Oswal

    Another note. If they do switch to 1280×720, that’s bad news for people who buy the playbook or the people who buy the z10 because those will have black strips, correct?

  • Jared Thomson

    Thanks for taking time to post on Black Berry Cool about your thoughts on BB10. I can’t say I agree with you, but I like your enthusiasm!

  • Jared Thomson

    I haven’t read what you have about dropping the 1280×720 plans and from what I hear around the office my teammates haven’t either. It’s been busy though so it could have just slipped by me. So no I don’t know for certain, it’s just the last thing I heard. I would be surprised if they don’t do it though if they do decide to go with a 720×720 Q10. I’ll have to look more into it – thanks for the comment.

    In regards to the black bars the answer is no. 1280×768 is larger than 1280×720 and all apps being designed for the Z10 and Dev Alpha will be cropped down to future 1280×720 resolution not black barred up like the iPhone 5 was. Also 1280×720 is a 16:9 aspect ratio just like the playbook so it will be an easy transition for playbook developers who decided to pad the either side with content when laying out a wider screen isn’t trivial.

    I know that’s a lot of numbers to digest in one paragraph but basically I’m just saying that there won’t be black bars. It’s not a perfect situation for app developers but it’s really not all that bad at all.

  • Rishi Oswal

    Sounds good but the playbook at 1024×600 doesn’t seem to be quite 16:9 either. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out – just hope it doesn’t become fragmented and complicated like android.

  • Kyle McInnes

    Your only other comment on Disqus is hating Canadians and BlackBerry.

  • David Michael

    no, just Canadians that go on and on about Blackberry. Its almost like you Canadians have a bad case of Avro Arrow syndrome.. you remember the Arrow don’t you?? the greatest fighter jet known to man kind..the jet the Americans killed because it was so good..give me a break.

  • Connected

    You need to read more Michael. The world is changing.

  • Movie Enjoyer

    why are you posting about bb10 then if know one cares about it? your life is sad.

  • Jared Thomson

    You’re right it’s not quite 16:9 but it’s close enough that you can perform layout code on it as though it was. That’s what I do and the artists I work haven’t had any issues (that I hear) designing for 16:9 and applying it to 1024×600.

    Is it going to get fragmented and complicated? I suppose time will tell but one of the reasons RIM decided to take the path less traveled and acquire QNX was to control the entire hardware/software stack and have a better level of unification than any android in the market. I think that rational applies here as well.

    Although their resolution choices may sound a bit scattered it’s easy to see they’re rolling with the punches and responding to both manufacturers and consumers with their screen changes. I expect they’re thinking quite hard about the screen sizes they’re going to target and I’m glad they’re making changes early on and being vocal about it rather than letting products launch with limited support.