No, I'm not going to pick Java as a "language to learn" in 2010. However, I did a little Java development in 2009 (Blackberry, specifically) and was also the developer for the Blackberry version of the CodeMash mobile-application "MobiMash".
My journey into Blackberry development started about March of 2009 when I got my first Blackberry, the Storm. One of the first things I wanted to get was a Twitter client. I had previously used PocketTwit on my WinMobile device and wanted something similar. In particular, I wanted to see the entire tweet. At the time, the most popular Twitter client for the Blackberry I found was TwitterBerry. However, one thing that annoyed me was the inability to see the entire tweet. You saw as much as was possible based on your device's width and then a "...". You would have to click on the actual tweet to get a detail screen that showed the whole thing
I tried a few other clients, but at that time, the Storm was still somewhat new and not many apps supported the large touch-screen. So I thought, "Hey, I'm a programmer. I could write my own twitter client!".
I spent some free time over the next month or so (maybe 6 or 8 hours a week) setting up RIM's Java Development Environment and learning about Java on the Blackberry devices. It's definitely an interesting platform. I had frustrations many times, but overall, it was a fun learning experience.
I never finished my twitter client. TwitterBerry was eventually updated to view the entire tweet. And since then, other twitter clients for the Blackberry have emerged – notably, UberTwitter. This is what I'm currently using and I like it a lot.
After I abandoned my twitter client, I wanted another project to develop for my Storm. Any time my kids were around their uncle, they bugged him to let them play Flood-It! on his iPhone. I checked out the game and realized it was pretty simple concept with a basic UI and decided to tackle that.
After a few weeks, I released my version of Flood-It for the Blackberry Storm called "ColorFILL" (yeah, pretty imaginative, huh?). I've gotten some requests to add features to it and I'd like to get back to it someday. I still play it from time to time when I bored.
My most recent Blackberry project was MobiMash. The MobiMash website can explain in more detail, but it was another very fun project and allowed me to lean more about some advanced layout options as well as XML parsing and data persistence on the Blackberry. One thing that was tricky with MobiMash is that I had to make sure it worked with both the Storm and non-Storm (Pearl, Curve, etc…) Blackberry's. I wanted a single codebase so I had to resort to preprocessing directives – how 1990's!
Java in 2010
So I'll probably continue to play around with Java development on the Blackberry. The 5.0 Storm OS has a lot of nice UI improvements to help your apps "pop" (probably due to the competition from the iPhone). I'd like to play around with those. And I may even go back and polish up the MobiMash UI since it was thrown together pretty quickly. Custom controls is definitely something to learn if you want your Blackberry apps to stand out.
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