RIM rolls out BlackBerry WebWorks SDK 2.0 with PlayBook launch

In tandem with last week's North American retail release of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) introduced its BlackBerry WebWorks SDK 2.0 for Tablets and Smartphones as well as the final version of its Tablet OS SDK for Adobe AIR, promising developers new tools to streamline and enhance their application projects. BlackBerry WebWorks 2.0 separates JavaScript APIs from the OS--according to RIM, the new architecture makes it easier to modify and expand existing APIs for packaging with WebWorks apps and also simplify the addition of new APIs. The BlackBerry WebWorks framework and all APIs are open-sourced and available via the GitHub portal. Developers can leverage the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK to build standalone BlackBerry apps based on web standard technologies like HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. Once the build is complete, apps can be fully integrated into the BlackBerry ecosystem for distribution via the BlackBerry App World storefront.

The final version of the BlackBerry Tablet OS SDK for Adobe AIR touts special APIs for the BlackBerry PlayBook Plugins for Adobe Flash Builder, as well as a BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet Simulator and a Getting Started Guide. Adobe AIR enables developers to share code across multiple platforms, offering them a wide choice of programming environments. Late last year, RIM confirmed the BlackBerry Tablet OS eventually will replace its current BlackBerry smartphone operating system across all devices the company produces--however, the transition could take several years, with RIM likely to introduce BlackBerry 7 to bridge the gap.

Research In Motion announced in late March that the PlayBook runs Android applications alongside BlackBerry apps--the tablet includes two optional "app players" that provide a runtime environment for BlackBerry Java applications as well as apps running Android 2.3, both available for download via the BlackBerry App World storefront. The BlackBerry PlayBook and the BlackBerry Tablet OS are built on the QNX Neutrino microkernel architecture, which promises developers easy portability of C-based code alongside support for OpenGL for 2D and 3D graphics-intensive applications. According to RIM, it's all as simple as repackaging, code-signing and submitting Java and Android apps to BlackBerry App World; to further spur programmer interest, RIM is partnering with cross-platform game development solutions providers Ideaworks Labs and Unity Technologies to enable developers to more efficiently port their games to the PlayBook.

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