Building stable web apps – you can do it with the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet OS 2.0 software update


The BlackBerry® PlayBook™ OS 2.0 software update is designed to include many great improvements for both users and developers. For web developers, the BlackBerry web platform continues to receive quality improvements with each software update. I’m pleased to share that some exciting enhancements have been made to the WebKit rendering engine as part of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet OS 2.0 update. These enhancements are intended to assist HTML5 and BlackBerry® WebWorks™ developers with their efforts in producing higher-quality application content and positive user experiences.

BlackBerry PlayBook tablet users who have installed the OS 2.0 beta may have already seen the improved WebKit engine, as it was upgraded starting with version of the BlackBerry Tablet OS software. The current version of WebKit on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet comes from a November 2011 branch of the upstream WebKit code base. A complete list of all changes can be found in the Trac for WebKit issue tracking system.

Wait, do you mean HTML5 development on BlackBerry is designed to be even better now?

Yes I do, and you’re in for a treat.

In general, BlackBerry web developers will see enhanced stability and performance in their web applications running on BlackBerry PlayBook tablet OS 2.0. However, some of the more significant improvements include the following:

  • Support for WebGL, including 3D context and native binary data. Take advantage of Open GL ES technology and 3D graphics in your BlackBerry application content.
  • Updated Web Inspector is now designed with better debugging support. New features such as settings menu, network panel, contextual menus and pretty print JavaScript® make it easier for developers to debug and optimize their web content.
  • HTML5 canvas is now hardware accelerated, meaning it is designed for faster performance and higher frame-per-second (FPS) rendering of 2D graphics content.
  • CSS3 accelerated animations and transforms are now smoother thanks to high quality service improvements to graphics rendering for the engine.
  • Added FileReader API, which is designed to search, retrieve and display files from the BlackBerry Tablet OS shared folder, and helps integrate camera pictures, videos, music and documents from the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet into your web applications.
  • Improved HTML5 support including new form fields (keygen, output, meter) and input types (text, search, tel, url, email, datetime, date, month, week, time, datetime-local, number, range).
  • Enhanced XmlHttpRequest object adds support for text and array buffer response type

Show me!

I know you’d much rather see some of these awesome improvements yourself instead of just reading about them, so here are some examples. Using the browser application on a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet running Tablet OS 2.0, open the following pages:

Meet the Web team

Recently, I asked members of the BlackBerry® Browser team to share their thoughts about the meaning behind the high-quality improvements they have delivered to developers as part of the Tablet OS 2.0 web platform. Here is some of their feedback:

“I know many web developers who now use the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet as their mobile development and testing environment of choice. The support for remote Web Inspector is simply awesome, and a year after we introduced it, remains a defining aspect of our approach to mobile web development. We have made it even better!”

– Laurent Hasson, Technical Director, Web platform

“Personally I’m most excited about all the graphics and animation improvements (CSS3, HTML, canvas, WebGL). I think we’re most proud about being able to bring the full web to tablet – proper implementation of the standards and specifications coupled with a rich, touch-friendly user experience.”

– George Staikos, Vice President, Web Technologies

How do I get started with BlackBerry web development?

I’m glad you asked. Visit the BlackBerry HTML5 WebWorks developer site to learn more about developer tools, such as the Ripple emulator or the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK. See the developer documentation and reference guides for techniques on how to transform samples into fully-featured BlackBerry applications.

Most importantly, tell us if you create something awesome! We want to hear from you.

Hope you enjoy BlackBerry PlayBook tablet OS 2.0.

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