Over the weekend something interesting happened. The first domino to fall was an incredulous yet whiney blog post by Jamie Murai on how just getting up and running developing WebWorks applications for the PlayBook is a pain. While that is really nothing new the interesting part was that RIM actually responded to Jamie’s rant on their blog.
While I commend Tyler Lessard for sticking his neck out and responding to Jamies Open Letter his best response would be to actually change the parts he concedes are counter productive. The thing is that Jamie gave up early. He did not even get the chance to experience the full school of hard knocks that is starting to develop for the BlackBerry platform. It is not that developing for the BlackBerry platform is impossible its simply that RIM goes out of their way to make something simply into an overly complex process.
Let me give you a perfect example. RIM came out with a wonderful newfangled technology to allow developers to push notifications to your BlackBerry. You would think developers would jump all over themselves to get in on this technology. Trust me I know why so few have. RIM first makes them fill out a 2 page form to request testing access to the push service. You then have to wait a few days for them to provision this and open their firewall to your IP address which can take forever. Once you are all up and ready you then need to request YET AGAIN from RIM a 2 page form to move the push service into production. All of this could simply have been done with a nice web form with everything provisioned automatically. I know that both Google and Apple do it that way so why can’t RIM?
Here are a few other things RIM could do in one day that would make the lives of new BlackBerry Developers that much easier:
- STOP making us register for EVERY SINGLE download from your site. It would not be as bad if one registration was good enough for everything but its not. Just turn these stupid registration forms off for now. How many submissions from [email protected]” do you need?
- Make code signing key requests INSTANT. Is there a reason you need to wait up to 48 hours to approve them? Better yet why do we need YET ANOTHER registration form for signing keys.
- What is with the overly complicated code signing? Why are they restricted to one PC? Why do I have to get an email every time a code signing key is used (3+ times per signing)?
- Moving on to App World registration. Why does this take so long? I was lucky enough to have a copy of BerryReviews Articles of Organization so I did not need a letter from a notary public. Seriously though. Who are we kidding with this notary public stuff? It is time to kick RIM legal to the curb along with all their crazy requirements.
- Stop writing legal agreements for developers that are longer than the US Constitution and then force developers to scroll down the whole page to accept it THREE TIMES!
- As Jamie rightly pointed out start packaging all of the installers into one app. They got this right with the Java Eclipse Plugin but the WebWorks SDK for the PlayBook requires 2-3 installers.
- PLEASE try out your own documentation RIM before you publish it. For example, quite a bit of the documentation from RIM on how to compile and deploy a PlayBook app on a Mac OSX machine is simply wrong. Anybody who would have tried the command would have realized that. I am telling you I cannot be the only one who thought using a command line utility to build and test an app is ridiculous. The fact that you forgot to put the “./” before the Mac Terminal commands simply means the documenter didn’t even check to see if it was right.
- Allow developers to leave comments on documentation NOW. Just add disqus to the bottom of every documentation article. That way developers can at least help you fix the shoddy documentation jobs once we figure it out.
Those are simply 8 examples off the top of my head where RIM adds complexity where there shouldn’t be any. I am truly looking forward to the BlackBerry PlayBook to blow my socks off and have been developing some cool apps for it. Still it just saddens me that RIM seems so shocked that asking developers to have a notary public sign their proof of identity is reasonable. Maybe we need some of these Adobe Flash Evangelists to be BlackBerry Developer Evangelists at RIM?