Why upgrade the BlackBerry Dynamics SDK?
The answer may seem obvious, but I’ve had many people ask the question.
Below are reasons why it’s important to use a recent version of the SDK.
The product and engineering teams spend a lot of time developing new features for our Enterprise customers and ISV partners. New features are informed and driven by innovation, product evolution, customer engagement and user experience.
One example would be the recent enhancements we have made to streamline and simplify Dynamics app activations. Now, Dynamics apps can be activated using Active Directory, Ping Identity and Okta through Enterprise Identity or via QR code support. These new features allow Enterprise customers to leverage their existing SSO providers or use QR codes for Dynamics app activation, instead of requiring the user to obtain and manually enter the 15-digit access key.
In order to use these features, the SDK needs to be updated to a version that implements them. Some features also require a server upgrade. In my example above, QR code activation requires Dynamics SDK 9.1 and UEM server 12.14
(Note: Many new SDK features are built-in and do not require any code changes.)
One of the primary reasons your organization is likely to have chosen the BlackBerry SDK is for security. BlackBerry Dynamics has had years of usage in the most demanding environments, and is the gold standard for securing mobile enterprise apps. When we release a new version of the SDK, there’s a good chance that we update third-party libraries used or bundled with the SDK which include important security features (e.g. OpenSSL).
Newer OS releases deprecate frameworks and APIs that may cause your application to be rejected in the App Store or Google Play Store.
E.g.: Apple will not accept apps that use UIWebview which has now been replaced with WKWebView.
While prior releases are usually compatible with newer OSes, there may be new OS features that could cause an incompatibility between the OS and the application.
Each release of the SDK will include bug fixes that are listed in the Release Notes. Even though your users may not have experienced any bugs, it’s better to be proactive and use a newer version.
BlackBerry’s own applications such as BlackBerry Work, Access, etc use the same SDK released to our customers. These applications get tested internally and also by our beta users.
If your application uses an SDK that is not supported, and your users experience a bug, the first course of action would be to update the SDK to a supported version.
The engineering team will only fix bugs in a supported version of the SDK.
The Software Support Life Cycle page lists supported versions of the SDK.
My team and I have been supporting the SDK for almost 10 years now. From my experience, here’s what I should would do if I were a customer, developing and deploying applications to my organization:
1. Setup a developer and UAT environment that closely mimics production
2. Sign up for the SDK beta (https://ebeta.blackberry.com)
3. Build your applications using the beta and test them in your UAT environment
4. Report any bugs so that they get fixed in the release version
5. Rebuild and deploy your apps when the release version is available.
Since you have already built your apps with the beta, rebuilding with the release version will be very easy.
If you do not have the time/resources to upgrade the app with every SDK release, at a minimum, you should rebuild your application(s) with the OS-compatible SDKs released around the August/September time-frame.
These releases are geared towards the major iOS and Android updates available in September.
If you experience any problems when upgrading the Dynamics SDK, please see my troubleshooting blog.