Cascades: Rich UI Development for BlackBerry Apps


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Here’s a guest post from our friend Anders at RIM TAT! – Ed.

Cascades is the user interface (“UI”) framework that TAT has been using for many years to create numerous advanced UIs and applications, such as Scrapbook for BlackBerry PlayBook. I’m happy to announce that it will soon be part of the BlackBerry Native SDK.

Here’s a short list of Cascades features:

  • Great performance, including amazing transitions and animations
  • Flexible UI layouts including free form lists.
  • 3D support
  • Support for mixing pre-packaged UI components with custom components
  • Core UI feature support

Cascades was originally developed to enable development of really innovative and unique applications. This put hard requirements on the flexibility and extendibility of the UI framework. The need for designer/developer collaboration was also one of stronger driving factors when developing the framework. Let’s dig deeper into how Cascades will aid the development of rich and compelling UI.

The flexibility of Cascades enables UI innovation

Cascades has a unique level of UI building blocks. In other UI frameworks, when stepping beyond the set of standard UI components, developers must often resort to low level OpenGLES-commands. Cascades provides higher level building blocks for many of the tricky but application-defining UI scenarios. Features like Flexible List layouts, 2D/3D transformations, mixing of 2D UI and 3D objects are all made accessible to developers.

The Cascades workflow helps designers and developers collaborate

In Cascades, UI elements are exposed both programmatically and through mark-up. The mark-up also provides scripting support making it a suitable environment for more design-oriented developers to work with, allowing for quick turnaround times and prototyping to find best possible UI design.

The markup also enables strong tool support including a Photoshop plugin making it easy to take and .psd sketch to a working layout in an application.

Cascades has beautiful pre-packaged components


Not every developer is a designer, full of ideas around 3D layouts and crazy infographics. For developers who prefer pre-designed and pre-packaged components, Cascades provides a strong set of Core UI components with great look and feel. They come with a number of built in effects and interaction design that will risk making your app look prettier than you can take credit for.

Availability of Cascades

Cascades will be released as a Beta during the Fall of 2011, with more and more advance features coming in future releases.

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