The BlackBerry Java Development Environment Inside and Out

BlackBerry’s Java Development Environment (JDE) is crucial for a developer to understand, because it’s the heart and soul of the development process. The JDE is a fully-integrated development environment and simulation tool for building Java Platform, Micro Edition (Java ME) applications. BlackBerry’s JDE is a Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) compliant Java ME environment, which is ideal for developers who want to uphold seamless portability in their wireless applications.

In addition to supporting MIDP 2.0, JDE also allows use of hundreds of proprietary BlackBerry APIs to take full advantage of the BlackBerry platform specific features that are not available on other smartphones in the market. As if that’s not enough, the BlackBerry Java Development Environment also provides a full suite of interfaces and utilities, which will enable developers to take advantage of some of the more unique and intriguing features located on the BlackBerry smartphone. And for those developers that are used to a more classic feel, the Eclipse plugin will offer the same set of tools, while allowing them to develop in a familiar atmosphere.

It’s important to understand that Blackberry smartphones are Java devices through and through, meaning they were developed from the inside out using Java. Having a better understanding of the environment you’re working in will make you a better developer. You may know Java and you may know how to create applications, but if you don’t know the ins and outs of the JDE, you may be missing out on extra features that you could be taking full advantage of. As you probably already know, BlackBerry’s JDE creates rich client applications that are capable of providing the most flexibility and power, but not only that, they have a broad reach in terms of functionality. Whether your focus is creating fun, new games or serious corporate apps, it can all be done using BlackBerry’s Java Development Environment.

Aside from the benefits already discussed, there are even more perks to developing in Java. The Java development environment enables developers to take advantage of every aspect of the BlackBerry smartphone, including the camera and Bluetooth. Amazingly enough, those features can then be seamlessly integrated with already-existing BlackBerry applications such as the address book, GPS, and maps features.

First we will discuss enhancements that have been made to BlackBerry’s latest JDE, which is the v4.7, and then we will briefly discuss some of the overall features that JDE offers BlackBerry developers.

{mospagebreak title=BlackBerry JDE v4.7 Feature Enhancements}

Aside from containing the BlackBerry Storm smartphone simulator, the new JDE v4.7 also features touchscreen support. Any application that was designed using the MIDP User Interface or the BlackBerry User Interface will now have what essentially amounts to built-in support for touchscreen input. Even more impressively, any applications that utilized custom user interfaces will also be able to receive the input events from gestures, taps, and swipes.

BlackBerry’s new and improved Java Development Environment now also features orientation and rotation support, meaning your applications can react to any changes in rotation to the smartphone. This of course is based on your own movement, but this support enables any application to reconfigure its screens and do custom processing based on movements or rotations.

If you were hoping for more developments in the moving department, the accelerometer support featured in the new BlackBerry JDE v4.7 allows support for motions that go well beyond a simple rotation. This is how it works: the application can query the accelerometer sensor, which retrieves data from the x, y, and z axis. This will enable the smartphone to sense 360-degree motion.

Another new feature is the virtual keyboard API. Essentially, this feature supports the ability of an app to show (or hide) the virtual keyboard on the device on a per-screen basis. Basically, this gives the application the ability to determine when the keyboard should or shouldn’t be visible to the user.

The next two features may not be at the top of a user’s list in terms of importance or relevance to their use, but they’re worth pointing out. BlackBerry’s Java Development Environment now has Digital Rights Management APIs, meaning that applications can now install certificates on any — or all — DRM- protected content. Also, with the set theme wallpaper feature, applications can now set the home screen wallpaper of a BlackBerry smartphone device. It may not be as impressive as the other features, but it is certainly useful and fun.

There are many developers anxious to hear about the BlackBerry JDE v4.7 camera and media integration enhancements. Admittedly, it’s here where some of the most progressive enhancements were made. New APIs featured on the v4.7 now enable developers to take full advantage of several noteworthy enhancements, including image targeting, which enables a user to send an image taken in the camera application to a specific target. Basically, this means that the feature allows an app to register as a handler of that particular image during the time it is being sent. Also, when a custom app is registered as a handler for specific content, that app will then receive a “sent to” menu item from the BlackBerry’s media application. And lastly, video recording. This new feature enables applications to bring up the video recorder app, which will then enable the user to capture video.

The new and improved Java Development Environment does of course come with some technical requirements. These requirements include: Windows 2000 SP1 or later or Windows XP or Windows Vista, along with BlackBerry JDE v4.5+: Java SE JDK v6.0, BlackBerry JDE v4.2.1 and v4.3.0: Java SE JDK v5.0 or v6.0, BlackBerry JDE v4.1 and v4.2: Java SE JDK v5.0, as well as BlackBerry JDE v4.0 and v4.0.2: Java SE SDK v1.4. It seems complicated, but you’re just a few simple downloads away from being able to play with the new JDE. Also, BlackBerry JDE Component Packages include a division of utilities found in the full BlackBerry JDE. These components are required for the development of third-party applications using external integrated development environments (IDE).

You might also consider JDE 5.0, currently in its Beta form. It features a new set of APIs, including support for SQLite and the improved BrowserField API, as well as simplified wireless connectivity (both for the Internet and intranets), customizable user interfaces, support for push content, support for Multiple ContactList, and much more. For a full breakdown of features, check out the JDE 5.0 page here .

{mospagebreak title=What the BlackBerry Java Development Environment Can Do For You}

As a BlackBerry developer who works with applications often, if not every day, you may have become jaded. After all, it’s easy to forget everything that BlackBerry’s JDE does, because it does so much. A refresher course concerning the huge amount of tasks the Java Development Environment is not only capable of doing, but assists you in doing as well may cause you to rethink any features you have been taking for granted.

Here is a quick list of the features BlackBerry’s Java Development Environment enables its users to take advantage of:

  • Creating user interfaces

  • Using graphics and other multimedia

  • Store and manage data

  • Implement security and trust services

  • Manage memory

  • Create connections using HTTP and HTTPS, among many others

  • Create Wi-Fi connections

  • Create notifications

  • Integrate with other BlackBerry applications

  • Manage applications

  • Use the messages application

  • Use PIM applications

  • Use the phone application

  • Use the BlackBerry browser

  • Create Push BlackBerry Java applications

  • Localize BlackBerry Java applications

  • Test BlackBerry Java applications, and

  • Package and distribute BlackBerry Java applications

On top of all that, there is also a free BlackBerry JDE plug-in for developers who use the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment. This, of course, enables developers to build and test their rich mobile applications using tools with which they’re already familiar and well-accustomed to. Developers should consider BlackBerry’s Java Development Environment a place where they can create anything they imagine in the form of an application to be enjoyed by any number of users. The more you know about the JDE, the more you can take advantage of it — so get started.

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