Get Acquainted with the BlackBerry Platform - Smartphone Development
BlackBerries, on more than once occasion, have been called the phones of the future. In a world where multi-tasking has become a necessary life skill, that factoid should come as no surprise. People need their phones to be as multi-functional as possible, and a phone that simply makes phone calls is a thing of the past. Thanks to BlackBerry, a “smartphone” has become a necessary tool in the development and general maintenance of both small businesses and major corporations. This is where BlackBerry developers come into play. Whether it is your intention to leverage the standards-based BlackBerry platform and developer tools to create applications that are just right for your organization or you’re looking to branch out and create solutions for other companies, there are a few things you should know before you begin to seriously consider becoming a BlackBerry developer.
What comes next is pretty obvious: it's time to explore the BlackBerry platform. Perhaps "explore" is the wrong word; it's time to make the platform your best friend. The BlackBerry platform is based on the CLDC and includes support for MIDP 2.0., but a large number of BlackBerry-specific classes are also provided.
When dealing with the BlackBerry platform you'll be faced with a pretty straightforward question: are you going to write a BlackBerry application or a MIDP application? As mentioned previously, writing an MIDP app is a bit different, and you'll be forced to use the APIs exposed by the CLDC and MIDP standards. Essentially this means that your application will run on the BlackBerry and on most cell phones, but it won't be able to use any of the BlackBerry's special features.
It goes without saying that most application developers opt to build BlackBerry-specific applications. This means that learning the BlackBerry-specific APIs, such as new user interface classes and using the BlackBerry Java Development Environment (JDE) to develop your applications, is almost mandatory. I say almost, because you could opt to use BlackBerry JDE plug-in for Eclipse, which offers you a more familiar way to create your apps if you are already used to developing in the Eclipse IDE.
You can also use the JDE, which is free to download, works with the standard Java Software Development Kit and provides you with all the tools necessary to create, package, test, and debug BlackBerry apps. Interestingly enough, you don't even need a BlackBerry handheld, because the JDE and JDE Eclipse plug-in both include a full-featured BlackBerry device simulator. Also, a complete set of JavaDocs is provided, which describes all the classes and interfaces available to programmers.
After downloading and installing the JDE, you'll want to read the developer's guides that accompany the development environment and look at the sample applications that are shipped with it. Afterward, it should be fairly simple to begin developing your own apps by writing a few simple applications just to get a feel for the BlackBerry APIs and its tools.
This is obviously a broad overview and general information for the fledgling BlackBerry developer. If you are interested in learning more, you may wish to check out the Handheld Device Developer Forums, as well as the tutorials posted here; once you have done a little more research, I think you will find developing apps for your BlackBerry is a fairly simple process.