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How to Start Developing Java applications for BlackBerry Devices: Setting up the Environment

written by: crisbbdev•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 6/14/2010

Learn how to set up your environment to start developing BlackBerry Java applications using Eclipse and BlackBerry JDE plugin for Eclipse.

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    BlackBerry Development

    BlackBerry Logo This is the first of a group of articles which will try to guide you through the world of BlackBerry Java applications development and teach you how to develop BlackBerry applications. Because we are going to start from the very beginning there’s no previous Java programming knowledge required but obviously those of you who are familiar with it will find it very easy to get started.

    Before setting up the environment, we have to decide which Integrated Development Environment we are going to use. RIM gives us two options: you can use their own specific IDE, which is call JDE; or you can use a specific plug-in for Eclipse IDE. Because I feel more comfortable using Eclipse, this will be my choice for this and subsequent articles. In the future, I’ll try to write a specific article talking about how to use JDE.

    So now, let’s start with our environment. Some of the tools you need to get started must be downloaded from the BlackBerry developers web page so, first of all, I encourage you to create a BlackBerry developer account here: http://na.blackberry.com/eng/developers/.

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    System Requirements

    For an Eclipse environment, these are the system requirements:

    • 32-bit Windows® XP, Windows Vista™ or Windows 7 (Note: 64-bit versions require 32-bit Java and Eclipse).
    • Monitor with a resolution of 1024 x 768 or higher.
    • PC with Intel® Pentium® 4 processor or compatible (2.5 GHz or higher, 2 GB RAM, 1.5 GB HD free).
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    Downloads

    Get Java SE Development Kit (JDK) 6, update 10 or later. http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/widget/jdk6.jsp

    Get Eclipse 3.5 classic from here: http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/

    Get BlackBerry Java plug-in for Eclipse v1.1 here: http://na.blackberry.com/eng/developers/javaappdev/javaplugin.jsp

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    Installation

    The installation is as easy as follows:

    • Install the downloaded Java SDK by double-clicking on its file on default path (C:\Program files\Java).
    • Unzip the Eclipse file and remember the path in which it is unzipped because later it will be used to install the plug-in.
    • Install BlackBerry Java plug-in for Eclipse by double-clicking on the .exe file. During its installation you will be required to set the Eclipse path in which you want to install the plug-in.

    Now, before starting to develop your first application you should stop and think about which devices it is going to be installed on. This is very important to ensure that you use the proper version of the BlackBerry JDE component package. Our installed Eclipse plug-in has a pre-installed 5.0 JDE component, which as you may know is the latest BlackBerry OS version. But maybe you have an older device which is using a previous version, or you are considering creating an application which will be installed on all devices from 4.2.1 OS or up... To sum up, if you need another component version, you have to download it and install it from here: http://na.blackberry.com/eng/developers/javaappdev/javadevenv.jsp.

    You as a developer should balance between the development of an application which will work on as many devices as possible and the use of the latest API classes which for sure add more value to your application. Remember that RIM guarantees that any application is forward compatible.

    For the purposes of this article and following ones, we will be using 5.0 which uses the most powerful functionalities of the newest BlackBerry devices.