New BlackBerry developer tools, ad services for 'Super Apps'

Developing applications for BlackBerry smartphones is about to get easier and more enticing, for both consumer application developers and enterprise app makers.

Developing applications for BlackBerry smartphones is about to get easier and more enticing, for both consumer application developers and enterprise app makers.

The Canadian company behind the BlackBerry, Research In Motion (RIM), on Monday unveiled a new set of developer tools and monetization services should help existing BlackBerry developers more easily create "compelling" mobile applications, dubbed "Super Apps" by RIM, as well as inspire new mobile software developers to begin building for BlackBerry.

The new tools are meant to bring RIM up to speed with rivals like Apple and Google, who's iOS and Android platforms, respectively, are considered to be more "developer-friendly" than RIM's. As such, these are the mobile platforms seeing the most application-driven user-growth.

First off, RIM unveiled a newly rebranded version of its former BlackBerry Widgets Web-development platform, now called the BlackBerry WebWorks application platform, which is meant to extend the capabilities of the former software development kit (SDK) while "combining the richness of Java [app development] and the speed of BlackBerry Web app development," according to Alan Brenner, RIM's SVP of the BlackBerry platform.

BlackBerry WebWorks allows developers to create mobile apps for BlackBerry entirely using HTML-5, CSS and JavaScript. And RIM will "open-source" WebWorks, meaning the company will make all relevant code and documentation available to developers online. RIM is also working with a number of open source JavaScript framework companies including DoJo, GitHub, JQuery, Nitobi and Sencha to help developers create web applications with advanced web and AJAX functionality, according to the company.

WebWorks for BlackBerry OS 5.0 and BlackBerry 6, RIM's latest OS, which is available only on the BlackBerry Torch 9800, should be ready for download today from RIM's website.

Secondly, RIM showed off a new business-oriented tool for enterprise BlackBerry app developers, called BlackBerry Enterprise Application Middleware (BEAM). The BEAM tools are designed to simplify business-application development and make it easier for enterprises to distribute their apps to global employees.

Brenner says BEAM can integrate with other enterprise-app development platforms, including Oracle Fusion, SAP/Sybase's mobility platform, IBM's WebSphere and others. And BEAM does much of the heavy lifting for enterprise BlackBerry app developers thanks to a new library of APIs, Brenner says.

RIM customers including ING DIRECT, Oracle, and SAP all touted the BlackBerry platform during RIM's BlackBerry Developer Conference day-one keynote in San Francisco and detailed their future plans for BEAM.

Next, a new BlackBerry Advertising Service makes adding advertisements to BlackBerry apps as easy as inserting "just a few lines of code." RIM's partnered with a variety of mobile ad networks, as well, to help ensure that plenty of relevant ads are available to developers, who can choose which specific ads they want to appear in their apps. RIM's ad partners include Amobee, Jumptap, Lat49, Millennial Media and Mojiva.

RIM also detailed a new, free mobile analytics service, called BlackBerry Analytics Service, which it announced along with Web Trends, a Web metrics firm, to give commercial BlackBerry developers greater insight into who's using their applications, when, how and for what specific purposes.

Finally, the BlackBerry-maker announced a new Eclipse development plug-in for Mac OS X, which will enable Mac users to develop applications for BlackBerry. Few details on the new plug-in are available, but it will reportedly have all the features available to BlackBerry Eclipse developers who use PCs. And the Mac OS X tool should be available today as a beta release, with an official version available before the end of 2010, according to RIM.

Additional information on all the BlackBerry Developer Conference 2010 announcements should still be available on RIM's developer website.

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