BlackBerry 10 Jam – Toronto ROCKS!


The BlackBerry® 10 Jam World Tour arrived home in Toronto to a packed house. From the very beginning of the day, the positive energy and electricity was palpable as if it was the crowd before a sold-out rock concert. The success of the BlackBerry 10 Jam World tour had primed the anticipation in the crowd and before the show even began – expectations were high and we made sure we delivered.


Martyn Mallick took the stage first and he exceeded the expectations of the crowd. Martyn laid out some of the thinking behind BlackBerry 10 to give the hungry crowd the foundation they needed.  He further fueled their appetite with information about the growth of BlackBerry applications in the BlackBerry™ App World storefront.

Martyn was then joined on stage by Wes Worsfold and Aaron Barnes from Motek Mobile. Wes and Aaron demonstrated their application B’Giftee running on the BlackBerry10 Dev Alpha prototype device. B’Giftee is an application that allows people to share the things they love with their friends. The application allows the user to generate a kind, on-the-fly gift card for any item they want to share, then, they share that with their friends. The application ran beautifully on the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device allowing Wes to share a bottle of his favorite beer with Aaron.

Martyn then welcomed Mohammad Agha and Ian MacDonald from Magmic. Magmic demoed their incredibly popular Texas Hold ‘Em King Live; an online multiplayer poker experience. The graphics were stunning, the animations smooth, and the game play flawless. If you are a poker fan, this is your game. It makes it so you can play with poker players all over the world: all for FREE!

After Martyn, Gary Klassen took the stage. Gary introduced the developers in attendance to the BlackBerry 10 user experience. His passion and commitment to BlackBerry 10 was obvious in his presentation. Gary also demonstrated the new BlackBerry 10 keyboard with its predictive text capabilities. His demo was greeted with enthusiastic applause and was a topic of conversation the rest of the day. Gary showed that due to the predictive capabilities of the keyboard, he could type an entire sentence in four keystokes and 6 flips of his thumbs. Very groovy stuff.

Tim Neil then took the stage to present an overview of the BlackBerry 10 architecture. This was Tim’s first appearance on the BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour and he rocked. Tim’s knowledge and experience provided the perfect combination to deliver the overview of the architecture while providing personal insight and real world advantages of the QNX kernel.

Tim’s expertise demonstrates what I’ve always said is the greatest thing about BlackBerry: that it is more than just a company, it is a community of committed developers, users, and employees. This sentiment was never more obvious to me than in Toronto. During the lunch break, a developer approached Tim, who is a key author on the bbUI.js project on GitHub, about a feature they would like to see in the framework. The developer asked if it would be possible to add scrolling panels to the bbUI project so you could have scrolling information surrounded by static information. Tim pulled out his laptop and by the time lunch was over, scrolling panels were part of the next branch in bbUI.js on GitHub.

Also during lunch, all the attendees were treated to homemade cookies, courtesy of another BlackBerry 10 Jam attendee, Phil Thibault, who made and brought cookies to the Jam to share. Awesome.

Like the other road shows, the Toronto show had 10 “lightning pitches”. The pitches in Toronto varied from people showing applications running on Dev Alpha devices to people with only a glimmer of an idea. The winner at Toronto was an app currently named Rocket App; although the developer admits that it’s a working title. The application calls the Next Bus API to get information about the bus schedules throughout Toronto. It shows a panel of the information and also a map of the nearest stops. However, Rocket App goes one step further by extending the experience beyond the glass. The application has a crowd sourcing feature that allows users to report the conditions of bus travel in real time. This way, not only can the user of the application get the official information from the Next Bus API, but they also get the first-hand experience through crowd sourcing. An excellent example of one of the key BlackBerry 10 tenets: Extend the application beyond the glass. Great job!

After lunch, the attendees moved to the detail tracks. The WebWorks track was led by Tim Windsor with the bbUI.js and Alice.js session presented by Tim Neil. All the WebWorks track talks were standing room only. Clearly, HTML5 is a key platform for BB10. Tim Windsor provided excellent in depth information about the WebWorks platform and some of the surrounding frameworks. The questions were also incredibly detailed which tells me these developers are already heavily invested in HTML5 development.

On the other side of the lobby, Shadid Haque was presenting the NDK detail track. Just like the WebWorks track, the room was standing room only. Shadid presented all afternoon covering the basics of using C++ with the NDK and also how to integrate with QML for interface design. Here too, questions were not the simple surface question, but in-depth and each question seemed to foster a discussion among the BlackBerry community.

Across the sky bridge, Brent Thornton and Jim Ing were delivering the enterprise detail track. This track gave members of the BlackBerry community the opportunity to learn about the enterprise space and get their questions answered by an expert.

All sessions were lively and the audience would move from track to track to absorb as much information as possible. Alas, all great things must come to an end and so must BB10 Jam Toronto. I would be remiss in closing this blog without acknowledging the tireless and awesome work done by all the people running the show. So, to Shelby, Susan, Catrina, Kate and Chris:  a big THANK YOU!

Toronto ROCKS!

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