Blackberry – An Honest Assessment

Blackberry – An Honest Assessment

I’ve been heads down on a Blackberry assignment, that is thankfully coming to a close in the next few days.

I’m a pretty fair minded person.  And I am totally platform agnostic.

Hands down, Blackberry is the worst SDK of any ilk I’ve ever worked upon.

You know your platform has issues when:

  • You have to re-install your development environment numerous times in the course of a project (me? I’m on time five.  Imagine having to re-install XCode five times to finish one Apple app, because of an inexplicable issue with the IDE.  Yeah.  It sucks).
  • When the user community’s primary contribution to sharing knowledge is “use search”…
  • Your simulators leak like a sieve.  I checked my memory this morning: the simulator was taking over 300,000,000 bytes of RAM.  Yeah.  Tasty.
  • You don’t support the latest OS under which you purport to support your product.  My environment?  Well, I was running Eclipse and the BB Eclipse plug-in on my MacBook Pro using VMWare running a Windows 2003 VM… until of course the simulator stopped loading one morning for no reason.  I am now running the SDK under a Windows 2003 VM running under Windows 7.  Why not just run it under Windows 7?  Isn’t it supposed to be made for Windows?  Sorry Charlie – Windows 7 is not supported.  Oh, you can run the Eclipse plug in under 32 bit compatibility mode.  But the MDS service, which you need in order to communicate over the internet won’t load under Windows 7, period.  I feel like I’ve spent more time just getting the damn thing up and on it’s legs than actually working on product.
  • You would rather try to explain the plot of “Lost” than work on a project on the SDK.
  • No – zero, zilch, nada – screen design tools.
  • Missing language elements and libraries – like being able to use the String “split” function.  No support for Apache HTTP calls.  No support for ArrayLists.  No support for java.io.Serializable.  Shit – I’ve had to refactor standard “java” so much on this project I may have well written the damn thing in Esperanto.

I really hate to “hate” upon a platform before I even get product out the door.  But damn.  It.  Shouldn’t.  Be.  This.  Hard.

I’m not some noob.  I’ve been writing software for devices since the mid 1980’s (Omron credit terminals – that takes me back).  I’ve written code for Apple, Android, Palm.

Frankly, Blackberry’s SDK is just an embarrassment.  And it’s no surprise that even though they have market share and should be crushing the competition, they have no mind share among people doing cool things on mobile.

It’s because they have brought a stick to a gun fight.

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2 thoughts on “Blackberry – An Honest Assessment

  1. Your are 100% right. I develope for Android and iPhone. Blackbery is hands-down the worst sdk. many times I have told my boss that if anyone from RIM applies for a job, put their resume in the trash and burn it. RIM should be embarrased to produce such crap!

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  2. I agree it is very bad. That’s why I’m here!
    I have done alot of programming for J2ME on nokia’s which also works on sammy’s and lg’s etc… But when trying to get that J2ME code to run on blackberry, wow what a nightmare! And I thougth the symbian S60 sdk was bad!

    I am using the Blackberry plugin for eclipse.
    Here are some things you may notice when porting your code over:
    -Doesn’t detect default font that works on all other phones, so stringWidth and charWidth aren’t going to work
    -Canvas dimensions are off, so combined with the font functions, the UI alignment makes it look like rubbish!
    -Tcp socket connections do not work by default, there’s some magic you have to apply (good luck).
    -Preprocessing is pathetic! There seems to be no #elifdef, and you can’t put //@ infront of lines to temporarily disable them, reducing your options to pathetically lame and ugly hacks…. plus, all files have to start with //#preprocess to enable the preprocessor, which conflicts with other J2ME SDK’s – what a joke!
    -Debugging with System.out.println() does not work by default, only when you “debug as”! And when you do “debug as”, then it outputs a few thousand lines of unnecessary gibberish, meaning that if you want to see if your code has output something, you have to do a search for it!
    -You sometimes get completely random errors, that don’t give you any hint at what they mean…

    Those are just a few, but yes the bb sdk has plenty more surprises. good luck!

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