Learn from the best: App development insights from one of our most successful devs

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Jerome Carty’s momentum has been building since he first decided to develop apps three years ago. A long-time Java® programmer, Jerome founded Kisai Labs and has used his knowledge to develop highly successful applications for BlackBerry® smartphones and the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet – including Blaq, a popular Twitter client for the tablet. As a part-time developer, Jerome needs powerful development tools that are simple and efficient to work with. Working closely with the Research In Motion® (RIM®) development team and an engaged user base, Jerome has designed creative, useful applications that have generated buzz within the BlackBerry community.

Jerome talked to us about the importance of his engagement with RIM and his user base, working with BlackBerry® WebWorks™, newly released APIs, and developing a successful BlackBerry PlayBook tablet application in only one month.

Dev Blog: Why has your partnership with the RIM development team been so important?

Jerome: For me personally, the ability to talk to actual people about the smallest details rather than hearing a canned response is an asset. I’ve dabbled with other platforms but keep returning to work with RIM, and a huge reason for that is the people who are willing to help. The development team has helped my applications gain exposure, and outreach by RIM on social media like Twitter® and within forums has been really useful. I can also say that the users themselves are very engaged with the applications and help promote it to others. A big part of Blaq’s success was the engagement of BlackBerry PlayBook tablet users. They built a ton of hype and word of mouth buzz before it even launched, which was crucial to its success.

Dev Blog: Why do you like working with the new BlackBerry Operating Systems?

Jerome: APIs are really important for me and any time you have a code that goes from up to 100 lines to just five, it makes any developer’s life simpler. That’s the reality of developing for BlackBerry now. For example, the new network and communication APIs have made it much easier to consume web services such as Twitter. Also, in the past you had to code a lot of images or processes like a JavaScript® Object Notation (JSON) by hand, but with these APIs my workload has dropped dramatically and my development time has been reduced. I’m also experimenting more with BlackBerry WebWorks. Learning that has been a relatively easy process.

Between the APIs and the other development software, I think that RIM is providing enough tools for any developer from any background to jump in and start. All you need is an idea and the means to do it.

Dev Blog: How were you able to develop Blaq – your successful BlackBerry PlayBook tablet application – in just one month?

Jerome: For this one, I used Adobe® Flash Builder software, which is an Eclipse-based development tool. It was my first full experience using Adobe® AIR® and ActionScript®. I found working with Adobe AIR to be relatively simple because of my past involvement with Java and all the great resources that were readily available online. I did an application when the Adobe AIR SDK first came out and it only took me four hours to come up with a simple browser. It’s easy for anyone with a Java or JavaScript background because Adobe AIR sort of combines the two. As I mentioned, the variety and quality of APIs took out a lot of the guesswork for me. In less than 30 days we went from concept to actual launch and it was the highest grossing launch of a paid app for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Updating the application was also a smooth process.

Dev Blog: How have you integrated your applications with the native features and functions of BlackBerry smartphones and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet?

Jerome: When it launched, Blaq was one of the only applications in BlackBerry App World™ storefront that had a real-time stream of Twitter, which was significant. When we launched the 1.5 version, we added native notifications, which is something that everybody wanted. The notifications turned out to be one of the best things that we included in the application. We use touch gestures, we can upload photos directly from the application and we have a native web-view inside the application. If you click on a link inside of the application you don’t have to exit the app and go into the browser. It feels like a full experience within the application. Incorporating these integrated characteristics really adds to the overall user experience.

Thanks for your time, Jerome!

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