Advanced Java Programming for BlackBerry Smartphones

BlackBerry and Java have a long and storied history together. Since the launch of the BlackBerry 5810 in 2002, all BlackBerry smartphones have been Java-based. All core BlackBerry applications have been written in Java. As you can see, there are many benefits to being familiar with Java, especially as it pertains to being a BlackBerry developer.

Using Java to develop apps enables developers to create incredibly rich client applications, and the Java APIs that are already available on BlackBerry smartphones ensure that a developer has more control when it comes to providing customizable user interfaces, event listening, and system interfaces, among countless other features.

The BlackBerry Developer’s Zone provides developers, new and seasoned alike, with a wide array of information, tools, and downloads that will make creating BlackBerry applications in Java incredibly easy. However, if you’re an advanced developer and you’re looking for something more challenging, then advanced Java programming for BlackBerry is right up your alley.

The BlackBerry Java Development Environment (JDE) has loads of advanced features that will help you bring your applications to a higher level of function and design. Aside from creating your own custom apps, you can now also integrate them seamlessly with any or all BlackBerry smartphone devices. Here we will discuss BlackBerry application integration, background threads, Bluetooth peripherals, location-based services, multimedia options, and cryptography and security APIs, which are just some of the JDE features specifically geared towards advanced BlackBerry programming with Java.

Application Integration

It’s common knowledge in this field that some of the most popular and widely used JavaME apps were created by RIM, which is the manufacturer of BlackBerry. You can use this fact to your advantage when doing advanced BlackBerry programming with Java. BlackBerry’s Java background will enable you to seamlessly integrate your applications with the BlackBerry’s browser, calendar, messaging center, maps, camera, and other search applications.

Integrating your apps with already-existing BlackBerry applications is sometimes referred to as “invoking” BlackBerry applications, which is done at a more advanced programming level. Essentially, there are four ways to integrate with existing apps: 

  1. By using the Invoke API 
  2. By using CHAPI 
  3. By utilizing ApplicationMenuItems
  4. By embedding the app directly into your own application. You can do this with either the browser, BlackBerry Maps, or the video player/camera.

{mospagebreak title=Background Threads}

The BlackBerry platform is different from most mobile platforms in that it enables your applications to continue running in the background or in sleep mode. The server-side push technology is another advanced feature that allows more seasoned developers to utilize true mobile OS multitasking to produce original and dynamic apps.

The BlackBerry site has a series of developer labs and tutorials intended to teach developers the ins and outs of this more advanced programming capability. After all, the BlackBerry platform is a multi-threaded environment, so it would be incredibly wise for a person interested in advanced Java programming to learn how to build background applications that are capable of doing data processing and listening for push data.

The lab, which is entitled “Listening for pushed data,” covers the essentials of creating auto-start background apps, which will act as push listeners. Developers will also learn how those apps effectively communicate with other apps on the BlackBerry smartphone device. A developer who’s at ease with advanced Java programming should be able to create separate threads for background tasks, open a connection to listen for pushed data, display pushed data on the user interface, and use the Mobile Data System simulator for testing.

Bluetooth Peripherals

The introduction of Bluetooth functionality with BlackBerry smartphone devices proved to be a major stepping stone for BlackBerry and it also gave developers a wide array of new possibilities for their applications. Though this type of integration is obviously an advanced Java programming feature, it’s easier than one would immediately think. Any design app that extends to various kinds of Bluetooth hardware, such as headsets, printers, writing devices, and GPS transmitters is incredibly welcomed. Both the Java environment and Bluetooth protocols follow industry standards, so integrating any Bluetooth device with a BlackBerry smartphone shouldn’t be too difficult for a seasoned developer.

For programming, there is wide support for Serial Port Profile (SPP) and JSR 82, which defines the Object Exchange Profile (OBEX) and Object Push Profile (OPP). Using OBEX and OPP, other profiles can be built, such as the Human Interface Device Profile (HID).

{mospagebreak title=Location-Based Services}

“Location-based services” of course refer to GPS functionality, which happens to be one of the hottest features in mobile development. It should also come as no surprise when it’s reported that BlackBerry smartphones are ahead of the game when it comes to this coveted feature. Support for JSR 179 provides the GPS functionality, which is available on some BlackBerry smartphone devices, needed to incorporate location-based services into any app you’re creating.

Essentially, any BlackBerry device that supports GPS technology can be made to feature a BlackBerry Java app that will display the device’s current latitudinal and longitudinal position. Sometimes, depending on the location mode that’s specified, a developer can even create an app that displays additional information such as speed and route information.


JSR-135 enables developers to take full advantage of the rich multimedia capabilities available on each and every BlackBerry smartphone. Some of these features include audio playback and recording, as well as video playback and streaming — just think of the possibilities.

Knowing the in and outs of advanced Java programming will enable a developer to create a BlackBerry application that is capable of playing media either in the BlackBerry browser or in the actual media application itself on the BlackBerry smartphone. Developers can now also create BlackBerry apps that are essentially media applications with the option of playing binary SVG content, as well as apps that record or send audio to a Bluetooth-enabled headset. If you become adept at advanced Java programming, there’s no end to the type of applications you can create for BlackBerry and for BlackBerry users.

Cryptography & Security APIs

Without top notch security, even the most inventive and useful smartphones, such as BlackBerry devices, would be worth nothing. Obviously then, security is a major part of the BlackBerry solution, and each smartphone is equipped with industry-leading cryptography APIs, which are inclusive of maximum PKI and state-of-the-art elliptic curve support. Learning how to leverage these outstanding security capabilities in applications should be a top priority for any developer who’s serious about their work and intent on using advanced Java programming features in their cutting-edge applications.

It seems as if BlackBerry is always looking out for developers, because once again, there are informative labs and tutorials that will provide developers with all of the information necessary to take advantage of these security benefits. There are advanced features of the Cryptography API that will enable developers to build applications that use advanced features, such as encryption, decryption, signing, and verification using public key cryptography.

Advanced Java programming is for more adept developers for a reason: it requires a higher skill set and an in-depth understanding of both Java and BlackBerry. That being said, once you’ve mastered the basics of Java programming, there will be no end to the types of applications you can develop at more skilled levels. Surely, BlackBerry users will also be eagerly awaiting the appearance of these new cutting edge applications.

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