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New BlackBerry Plug-In for Visual Studio

BlackBerry plug-in can leverage Visual Studio.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) Ltd. has finally released its new plug-in for Microsoft Visual Studio. First announced in May, the plug-in is designed to allow enterprise developers and systems integrators to leverage existing Microsoft-based dev tools to wirelessly enable applications for BlackBerry smartphones.

"Basically, the plug-in brings BlackBerry development to Visual Studio developers," explained John Edward, product manager at RIM during a recent chalk-talk webcast on the new plug-in. It allows developers working within a .NET programming environment to use familiar development tools to access the BlackBerry Mobile Data System (MDS), the enterprise platform for extending applications to the BlackBerry platform.

The MDS runtime is the same RAD framework used within BlackBerry's own MDS Studio toolset. MDS Studio is a tool for developing rich-client applications using a component-based drag-and-drop approach. It supports XML Web services and service-oriented architectures for integration and interoperability between mobile applications and existing enterprise applications and back-end systems. The plug-in provides a similar set of re-useable BlackBerry components that simplify user interface design, data management and wireless connectivity of rich-client apps, Edward said.

"As a developer, you don't need to learn new techniques for wireless development," Edward said. "You can leverage your existing Web services ... using a pre-built selection of user interface components ... to create an application that will be very familiar to a BlackBerry user. ... We're using terminology and design patterns that are very familiar to a Visual Studio developer."

The client coding is done in JavaScript, so there's no Java development on the device, even though BlackBerry devices run a Java environment. There's also no C#, VB.NET or other CLR languages that would require development on the client application.

"Corporations of all sizes are increasingly recognizing the tremendous opportunities to boost productivity and competitive advantage through wireless data applications," IDC analyst Stephen Drake is quoted as saying on the RIM press release announcing the plug-in. "Offering standard development tools that enable the creation of secure and manageable applications while abstracting the complexities of wireless systems will help accelerate the broader adoption of mobile enterprise applications."

The plug-in comes with sample MDS runtime applications. They've been designed to be deployable as is, reused and modified for free, Edward said.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on ADTmag.com, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at john@watersworks.com.


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