BlackBerry WebWorks SDK 2.0 Beta Released, with lots of Apache Cordova Goodness

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WebWorks SDK v2.0 Beta

It’s been a while since you’ve last heard from me, but I’m back with some exciting news: The BlackBerry WebWorks SDK 2.0 Beta is now available.

This release marks the evolution of our WebWorks SDK. There are two main themes for this release: alignment with Apache Cordova, and the delivery of a new GUI interface for common developer workflow tasks.

Apache Cordova

We’ve worked hard building support for BlackBerry 10 into the Apache Cordova engine to ensure that Cordova, Adobe PhoneGap and other downstream Cordova distributions can fully support BlackBerry 10 out of the box.

This release of WebWorks is completely built on top of the Apache Cordova engine. In essence, WebWorks is a distribution of Cordova with a number of custom enhancements focusing on improving the developer experience. WebWorks automatically includes all of the Apache Cordova core APIs, as well as all of the existing WebWorks APIs (which have now been implemented as Cordova plugins, and are available here for use with other Cordova based tools). Of course, it also includes the aforementioned GUI tool, as well as a new command line interface (CLI) based on the Cordova command line but with some extra BlackBerry 10 enhancements.

The New WebWorks SDK

With this version of the SDK, you’ll notice that the installer now creates a shortcut to the SDK in your Start Menu. This will start the new GUI tool in your default browser, and it is where you will spend much of your time during development. The new tool helps you manage your projects, set basic config.xml information, and build/sign/deploy your application to the simulator or device for testing. This is the first step in building a set of higher level tools to make the development of WebWorks apps better than ever.

Powering the GUI tool underneath the covers is the new WebWorks CLI. As mentioned, it is built on the Cordova CLI, but does some additional tasks, such as auto-detection of USB connected devices, automatic creation and deployment of debug tokens.

WebWorks CLI_1

Both the GUI tool and the CLI will have dedicated deep dive blog posts coming in the next few days, so stay tuned to the BlackBerry Developer Blog for more details!

Compatibility

Existing WebWorks apps work on all versions of BlackBerry 10; newly created apps and apps migrated to the new WebWorks SDK will work on all versions of BlackBerry 10. This allows you the flexibility to determine when it is best to move your application to the 2.0 SDK. Just note that the new SDK based on Apache Cordova is the version that will evolve in the future and receive new updates, so you’ll want to migrate at some point.

The alignment with Apache Cordova as a foundation also opens doors when looking at ease of cross platform support, as Cordova provides a common development layer and makes adapting the output to multiple mobile platforms much simpler. You can create an app using the languages you know, and Cordova handles the bindings to the native layer of the various platforms, making it easier to port your app to and from other platforms (iOS/Android) since you can reuse many of your existing web assets.

Additionally, many top enterprise solutions, such as IBM and SAP, are adopting Apache Cordova.  WebWorks 2.0 makes developing for the enterprise segment that much more accessible.

Migration

If you want to get started converting your application right now, you can check out our migration documentation here. And if you prefer to code along, the one and only Adam Stanley will be writing a blog and making a migration video that will go out on our YouTube channel, so stay tuned there as well!

Documentation, Samples, APIs, oh my…

Of course, we want to ensure you have all the tools you need to work with the latest beta, so we have updated documentation, samples, and API reference (includes content for the Apache Cordova core APIs). The developer site has been “forked” for Beta to ensure the appropriate content is available to you for whichever SDK you are currently using.

Our samples are available in GitHub as well, but make sure you are on the WebWorks-2.0 branch for samples that have been converted.

Feedback

Our usual channels are standing by to process your feedback on the new framework and tools we are delivering in this Beta, so we can ensure the Gold release is rock solid. Contact us in the forums, in the public issue tracker, and on Twitter at @BlackBerryDev.

We are really excited about where WebWorks is heading with the adoption of Apache Cordova at its core, and our involvement directly in Cordova to ensure BlackBerry 10 is a core platform in that community. The possibilities are endless with alignment to the industry de facto standard for packaged web apps. Many modern tools and frameworks, and even vertical solutions, are adopting Apache Cordova. So what are you waiting for? Download the SDK and provide your thoughts on the new tools!

About Ken W

Ken is the Senior Product Manager for the WebWorks group at BlackBerry. He is responsible for WebWorks tooling and is heavily involved in the Open Source projects at github.com/blackberry and the Apache Cordova community. Ken has a particular interest in trying to bring the internal and external BlackBerry development communities closer together.

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