Open Source and the BlackBerry PlayBook OS Platform

Dev Con

Today, Research In Motion® (RIM®) announced the 1.0 release of our Native SDK (NDK) for BlackBerry® PlayBook OS. What does that mean? Native means C/C++, BlackBerry PlayBook OS is our advanced platform for tablets and smartphones based on QNX, and the 1.0 refers to the version of that platform, as exemplified with BlackBerry PlayBook OS v1.0.

The goal of the NDK is to make you, the developer, more productive in creating Native Applications for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. To accomplish this, the NDK includes tools: a compiler, a linker, the Eclipse-based QNX’s Momentics IDE, and command line tools as well as samples, documentation, and libraries, and is paired with the Developers/Native micro-site. The micro-site is brand new (we also released Android and HTML 5 micro-sites) and provides information on most common actions, and… it also provides pointers to Open Source Components!

As is the case for BlackBerry® WebWorks™, Open Source is a key part of our native story. We use Open Source licenses, and transparent development, to deliver samples that developers can use to kick-start development, or to learn from in general. The NDK comes with a small (4) set of samples, available under an Open Source license. But the micro-site mentioned above links to a larger and growing set of samples all hosted at our GitHub Organization and ready for you to use, or fork and modify.

We are also porting popular Open Source libraries to complement those that are already included in the BlackBerry PlayBook OS. Libraries already available include physics engines like Bullet Physics and Box2DX, scripting languages like Lua, multimedia libraries like OpenAL and SDL, gaming frameworks like Cocos2DX and general-purpose libraries like Boost and Qt. We will continue growing the list and welcome your suggestions!

Also available under an Open Source license are a few new libraries like GamePlay, a new 3D native gaming framework, and TouchMapOverlap.

We are using GitHub to anchor this and other initiatives. All libraries have a homepage that provides additional information on how they apply to the BlackBerry PlayBook OS. In most cases there will also be a code repository that holds the specifics for the port. For example, the OpenAL home page is and the repository is Ideally the port specifics will be accepted into the upstream community; what we want is for the library to work on the BlackBerry PlayBook OS out of the box.

We will continue to expand our involvement in the Open Source community; it’s more efficient for us, better for the developers, and creates a much more open communication channel for everyone. For more details on RIM’s Open Source activities, visit

P.S. Also check out George’s announcement at WebKit-Dev about our renewed public participation in WebKit!

Do you use GitHub to develop? Have you checked out the BlackBerry GitHub page? Share in the comments!

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