While declining to discuss rumors of a planned pad computer, Research In Motion (RIM) did roll out on Monday a Web-based application development platform for its BlackBerry smartphone, complementing the existing native development paradigm.
The introduction of the BlackBerry WebWorks Application Platform is among several announcements being made by the company, with others covering development on Apple MacOS and initiatives in social networking , advertising services and application middleware. RIM is making the announcements at its BlackBerry Developer Conference (DevCon 2010) in San Francisco.
With WebWorks, developers can build Web applications for BlackBerry leveraging HTML5, CSS, and JavaScipt. "It's a full-blown application in the same sense [as RIM's native application platform]," said Alan Brenner, RIM senior vice president of the BlackBerry platform. "The platform enables you to build apps quickly using [quicker] Web cycle times vs. Java development cycle times."
"This opens up a whole new world developers," said RIM President and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. "Anyone who knows HTML can now build apps for BlackBerry."
RIM will open-source its Web application framework used to integrate the WebWorks platform into BlackBerry. The platform will be available today on github.
While the Web-based development platform enables faster development, native BlackBerry application development still offers fine-grained control over such capabilities as placement of pixels, Brenner said when interviewed after his presentation. While third-party tools vendor Appcelerator plans to enable development of BlackBerry applications using Web techniques, Brenner pledged the integration offered by WebWorks far exceeds anything on the market.
Also unveiled by RIM was an Eclipse Plugin for MacOS X, enabling Java development for BlackBerry. "It removes the barriers to [developing] BlackBerry applications for MacOS developers," Brenner said.
RIM also is introducing this week its BlackBerry Analytics SDK, providing developers with reporting and analytics on how applications are being used. The technology was developed in partnership with Webtrends.
Commenting on how RIM's application development story stacks up against Apple iPhone, Google Android, and Microsoft Windows Phone 7, Tyler Lessard, vice president of global alliances and developer relations at RIM, stressed RIM's enablement of integrated, "compelling" experiences for developers to build applications that "really matter" to users. Lessard cited RIM "super apps" concept. "The idea of super apps is we provide such a rich platform," enabling such capabilities as inbox integration and multitasking, he said.
Company representatives, however, declined to discuss a rumored introduction of a RIM pad device, citing the reports as just rumors.