Firstly let me just say a big thanks to Ronen for in-trusting me to write a post on my experience at BlackBerry DevCon Europe. I was due to write a little post after each day of DevCon, alas on Tuesday evening; RIM treated us to the BlackBerry DevCon Party. Suffice to say my attempt at writing a post after the evenings proceedings didn’t go to plan (Nothing to do with the free beer – Honest.) – I’m now back in the UK and have come away from the experience even more excited then I have been about the future of BlackBerry.
I’ve never developed any apps for any platform before, so DevCon was a chance for me to see what the developer community was like and see what support there was for wannabe developers like myself. My conclusion after the event? Awesome. I dragged along my friend of 20+ years to the event as I wanted him to be involved in my new ‘venture’. (You see I’m a Graphic Designer, my friend is the Web Developer) – He’s had experience in building apps for iOS and Android, with him on-board it means both of us could work together, each using our strengths in our particular field and hopefully churn out some quality apps to the BlackBerry platform.
The future launch of BlackBerry 10 is what has wet my appetite to develop apps. It provides a great opportunity for new developers (like me) to join the community and start developing for a completely overhauled OS. It’s an exciting time. I honestly think BB10 will be RIM’s ‘game changer’.
So this post is literally from a newbie point of view; I had no knowledge of how to build an app or what tools were available. I’ve come away from DevCon with all the tools I need and the know-how. I can’t wait to get started.
From the first general session, with keynotes from new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins and VP of Developer Relations – Alec Saunders; you could feel the excitement grow about what the next couple of days would bring. There was the biggest ever turn out to any DevCon with over 2000 developers crammed into the auditorium and I would hazard a guess that almost half that number were NEW developers either to the platform or like me, completely new to app development.
I tweeted throughout the general session and by now you should have read about the highlights of the keynotes already, but I had a highlight of my own. – When Alec Saunders sat in front of me after his keynote, it was too much of a good opportunity not to try a cheeky tweet and get him to turn around and shake my hand. After he received a BBM message from someone at RIM Marketing who picked up my tweet, he turned around and shook my hand. Mission complete. He was also rocking a sweet T-Shirt with the message ‘Keep Calm – #BeBold’. – I want one!
The rest of the day was spent attending sessions such as ‘BlackBerry® Tablet OS Graphical Aid – One Tool to Unite them All’ and ‘An Introduction to BlackBerry WebWorks: Applications Made Easy’ – Every session I attended; the subject and content was relevant and engaging. The Developer Relations team were on hand throughout to answer any questions and offer advice when asked. – If you go and come away not knowing something, its because you haven’t asked the right questions or asked for advice. There was plenty of opportunity to network with big players of the RIM Development Team and by all accounts I witnessed the majority of developers doing so. There really was a great buzz throughout the entire event.
After a great first day we were ushered downstairs to the DevCon Party which in a word, was epic. Just about everyone I chatted too were so impressed – RIM were really trying to woo developers into building apps for BlackBerry. It worked on me. – If this is how RIM treats developers, I want more of it. The evening was spent eating and drinking, washed down with a helping of App Circus, Karaoke and Networking.
The next morning we were back into sessions including ‘Think Super Apps!’ and ‘Responsive Applications & Liquid Graphics’ – again all really beneficial for a newbie like me. Sessions like these just give you the little ‘know-how’ that’s needed to literally start thinking about putting an app together. – The key point I have come away with; is the knowledge that we CAN build an app rather easily, the only thing we need to really consider is ‘how cool are we going to make it?!’
Overall the entire event was well organised, exciting and engaging. I couldn’t ask* for more; from fellow devs (I’m so calling myself one already!) to the RIM team on hand. I’ve walked away with a head full of ideas and the next few months will be interesting as we start the journey from concept to literally building our app for BlackBerry.
So thanks RIM for an awesome couple of days. If my excitement is anything to measure against – there will soon be no shortage of app developers for the BlackBerry platform. I can’t wait until the next #BBDevCon.
*The only thing I really wanted to take home with me was a new BlackBerry 9900. I was actually lucky enough to WIN ONE – and a whole truck load of other BlackBerry goodies thanks to a simple competition via @BlackBerryDev on Twitter! I walked away with the #BBDevConKit (Excuse the gormless look I have in the pic, I’m not usually so! – Honest!)