Developing Themes for BlackBerry 6

News

If you haven’t already heard about the newly announced BlackBerry® Theme Studio 6.0 Public Beta at DEVCON 2010, we are excited to cover all the details here in this post. The number of published themes on BlackBerry App World™ has grown tremendously since the introduction of the Themes category last year. To showcase this popular category, the latest BlackBerry App World 2.0 client features the top 25 downloaded BlackBerry® smartphone themes. So if you are looking to get your theme up on the list for BlackBerry 6 devices, I hope your BlackBerry Theme Studio 6.0 public beta tool and BlackBerry® Torch™ 9800 simulator are already installed!

Let’s dive into the newly added features in BlackBerry Theme Studio 6.0 Public Beta.

Theme support for BlackBerry 6.0 OS devices

Using BlackBerry Theme Builder 6.0, theme developers can now create themes for the BlackBerry Torch 9800 device and publish them on BlackBerry App World. There are several new components that can be themed on BlackBerry 6, such as the new notification bar, popup context menu, and application icon tray. BlackBerry Theme Builder allows you to customize all these new components using the ‘BlackBerry 6′ layout.

The ‘custom’ layout provides a subset of those theme features similar to the custom layout in BlackBerry 5.0 touch screen devices like the BlackBerry® Storm2™ smartphone. However, there are some new additions to allow social feed notifications (BlackBerry® Messenger, Twitter®, Facebook®) and organizational items (Tasks, Memos) to now appear on the home screen as well!

Dynamic wallpaper designs

If you are looking to add some pizzazz to the home screen wallpaper, there are new options now available through the Background Wizard (accessed under the Home Screen tab). You can select a range of images to be cycled as the home screen wallpaper, scheduled periodically or at specific times. I can just sense some great dynamic seasonal themes coming my way this year!

BlackBerry Theme Builder user interface enhancements

We have been listening closely to the great community feedback and improved our tool UI a great deal in this release. If you have already used BlackBerry Theme Studio 5.0, the first thing you will notice is the streamlined user-interface, with the Inspector panel hidden by default.

In its place is the Quick Edit palette at the top of the workspace, which displays the options for the currently-selected element. The new Toolbar on the left side of the workspace lets you switch between Select Mode (where you click on any element to edit it) and Pan Mode (which moves the screen image, as in previous versions). You can also right-click on various components to set new image items or reset them to default.

Veteran theme developers will note that this effectively replaces the Inspector tab with an elegant “click-and-edit” context-sensitive interface. If you prefer the traditional Inspector palette, it can be shown by clicking in the lower right.

Also, in order to jumpstart your theme development, we have provided the ability to set fonts and images across all screens through easy-to-use dialogs, accessed under the Edit menu.

For example, you can apply the same font attributes to multiple screens using the new Change Fonts option.

Another convenient feature added is the ability to replace multiple images on different screens using Theme Studio. In order to do this, you simply create a nested folder structure containing all the images to be replaced, and import the one folder into the theme using the Edit > Change Images option. This is a quick way to initially import all your graphical assets into your theme before tweaking each image. It is essential to maintain the same directory structure and filenames as the base theme; the complete set of correctly sized and named icons can be found in the ‘samples\Themes\Images\BlackBerry6_360x480′ folder of your Theme Studio install folder (by default located in ‘Program Files\Research In Motion\BlackBerry Theme Studio 6.0’).

Theme publishing

Finally, commercial theme developers can go to market faster by using the Publish to BlackBerry App World option in the Export wizard, which prepares the theme as an application package ready for upload on the BlackBerry App World Vendor Portal. You can even use it to easily upgrade the same theme to a newer version on BlackBerry App World through the Vendor Portal.

We would love to hear your feedback for on our Developer Issue Tracker and Community Forums!

About Rajeev M.

Rajeev joined Research In Motion (RIM) in 2008, bringing six years of development experience in the realm of mobile and software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps. As part of the Developer Relations team, he works with ISVs developing consumer apps, imparts wisdom on rich media app development, and likes to predict the next four-letter tech buzzword. He wields a new BlackBerry theme every week and socially connects on BlackBerry Messenger to rant on movies, music and games.

Join the conversation

Show comments Hide comments
+ -
blog comments powered by Disqus