Review: BlackBerry Web Shortcuts By Jonathan Fisher

blackberry_shortcutsronen6.jpgBlackBerry Web Shortcuts By Jonathan Fisher
Version: 1.0 Release
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★½ 9.5/10
Link: www.jonathanhfisher.co.uk
OTA Link: m.jonathanhfisher.co.uk/webshortcuts
Desktop Link: www.jonathanhfisher.co.uk
Cost: FREE!
Compatibility: OS 4.1+

First thing I have to thank Jonathan Fisher for donating this wonderful piece of software to the BlackBerry community. This is the highest rank we have given on any review so far. This application allows you to have up to 6 customizable shortcuts to websites on your BlackBerry homescreen or ribbon. As you can see above this was immediately useful for me to setup a link to BerryReview.com and BlackBerryForums.com on my homescreen. Now on to what makes this application so great…

First Impressions: The first thing that came to mind when I used this software was “Why didn’t RIM think of this?” It is a simple solution to get to the websites that you use on your BlackBerry every day without having to dig into bookmarks. As you can see below there were only two things that made me decide not to give this application a full 10. I admit that I am being a little nit picky but who doesn’t desire the perfect solution?

Installation: Jonathan graciously provided an OTA install link for the software that can be found above. As he explains on the install page there are 7 install files that you may need to download. This was my main gripe. You have to install a ~30K shortcut hub application and up to 6 different shortcut applications depending on how many shortcuts you want to use. The shortcut hub is required to manage the links but you can choose anywhere from 1-6 of the shortcut applications based on your needs. I chose 2 of them to start. The shortcut applications themselves are less than 5K and download really fast.

blackberry_shortcuts1.jpg

Configuration: Once you install you will see a few new icons on your home screen ribbon. You need to go to the one with a gray background which is the shortcut hub or configuration program. Once you open that you will be greeted with a menu like the one above. The shortcuts are shown from left to right. Even if you don’t have all 6 installed it will still show you all 6. You can then click on the first one to configure it and you will see a screen like the ones below.

blackberry_shortcuts4.jpgblackberry_shortcuts3.jpg

You will then have to enter in the full address of the link you want including the http://. I am hoping the developer will add this in at a later date (I know I am lazy). You then have to click the update button underneath the link to update the shortcut.

blackberry_shortcuts2.jpg

Customization: Jonathan added a innovative feature that lets you change the icon for your shortcut in the home screen ribbon. The icon must be exactly 32×32 pixels and be in a .png format. Once again you must also insert the full url including the http:// in the image link. The developer mentioned that if it takes too long to download then there must be a problem with the URL. As you can see I have created an image for BerryReview and BlackBerryForums already that you can find at the following URL’s, feel free to use and share them. The icon in your home screen will only update to the new icon you download after the next time you use the shortcut.

BerryReview Image – www.berryreview.com/br.png
BlackBerryForums Image – www.berryreview.com/bbf.png

Once you have all that setup everything works like a charm. You can move the icons around your homescreen. Hopefully once day the developer will add in the ability to create a hotkey for the each shortcut. The last gripe I had is that as of now the developer has not found a way for users to customise the name of the shortcut so they will all be named “Shortcut1, Shortcut2,…” You can then hide the shortcut hub icon once you are done with the configuration and clean up your home screen.

Update: Johnathan has now update the application so that you can configure and change the title of the each shortcut! Check out the update here

For BES Administrators: Jonathan has be gracious enough to offer a detailed explanation on how to push out this application shortcut to users on BES. Check it out here.

Conclusion: This application adds some functionality that I am suprised RIM did not add by themselves. It is a natural extension of the bookmark functionality but with easier access to your most common mobile websites. I really hope that Jonathan continues developing and supporting this great solution and I highly recommend it to any BlackBerry user that finds themselves browsing the same sites on a regular basis. Once again thank you Jonathan for this wonderful contribution!

5 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I have double- and triple-checked the url and the images, but I cannot get this thing to download ANY custom icons. Hints?

  2. Did you use the http:// heading in the beginning of the URL? I realized you need to use the full headers to get the custom URL’s.
    For example:
    http://www.berryreview.com/br.png

  3. Got it. I reset the device and then they came down fine. Thx for the reply. Handy little tool, this!

  4. It’s an ok product, but could be better. Icon support is pretty weak, and to explain all possible problems as URL problems is just bad. The reality is that this product needs very specific Icons and most users just aren’t going to have the skills or tools to produce those. Also, why can’t it use local icons… why does it have to always fetch remote icons? Finally, lack of https:// support is just plain lame.

  5. I cannot get this to work. I enter the following:
    Title: Test
    Site: http://www.google.com/
    Icon: http://www.berryreview.com/br.png

    When I attempt to save Shortcut #1, I get the following error message: “Please enter a valid URL for Shortcut 1″.

    I am using a Verizon Curve. Does anyone have any thoughts as to what I am doing wrong?

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