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BlackBerry DevCon Day 1

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Posted: October 19, 2011 | Categories: BlackBerry

Well, Day of BlackBerry DevCon 2011 has wrapped up and it's been a pretty interesting day.

It started with RIM moving the start time of the opening session to 8:30 AM then delaying the start until 8:50 AM. I showed up later than I wanted to, about 8:20, and there was a huge line of people waiting to get in. Fortunately for me, I didn't have to wait long and was quickly let in. Being a DevCon Alumnus allowed me to use the line jumper queue and get in right away.

It makes no sense to me – why move the start time up then NOT start the event. I had a meeting at 11, so I knew I would be leaving early and the earlier start time would have allowed me to miss less of the event. It makes no sense to me why you'd delay like that. No announcements were made; nobody knew what was going on until they finally let us in right when it was supposed to be starting.

Then, as we sat there waiting, and waiting and waiting, they made announcements letting us know the keynote would be starting in 5 minutes, then 1 minute. Unfortunately, they made those announcements repeatedly during the 20 minutes I sat waiting. It's not right and it's disrespectful of my time.

Not much in the way of special announcements. Mike L. started with apologizing for the outages the previous week then announced the new platform would be called BBX. Nothing about features. Nothing about release timeframes. Nothing about the future BlackBerry devices that would be running the OS. Only an announcement about what it would be called and nothing else. Many people have emailed me asking about the mood at the event and how people were reacting to the BBX announcement and so far nobody has anything to really react to. All we know is what it's going to be called, nothing else – so it's no surprise that people are not that excited.

We did get free Playbook devices – which is really cool. They provided us with an option to receive a device with the standard version of the OS or a device running a beta version of the OS. I'd tell you which version I selected, but it would be a violation of the beta agreement they required anyone who took a beta device to sign for me to tell you which one I selected. I now have two playbook devices, I'll unpack the new one and play with it's updated OS when I get home. Unfortunately I'm unable to write about my experiences.

They did announce new versions of some of the developer tools and even released Macintosh versions of them (which is pretty cool). I've been using a Macintosh for my development work for the PhoneGap book I'm writing and my work laptop died last week, so I had to switch to my MacBook for a while. I'm trying to decide whether I want to make the switch permanent. I'll write about some 'interesting' installation problems soon.

With no fanfare or real introduction as to who this guy was, the Mike Kirkup replacement took the stage and announced all sorts of interesting (and welcome) changes to the BlackBerry developer web site. Everything's been renamed around the BlackBerry Jam concept and it really makes no sense to me. It's flashy and cool, but it's at the same time lame and unprofessional. They did announce that RIM would no longer require a login to download the developer tools, which is a long overdue change. That makes downloading tools less challenging (what was that password again?) since RIM required capital letters and alternate characters such as dashes and numbers for your password (which was way, way overkill for simply downloading free developer tools).

The keynote was mostly about Game developers and that's no real change from last year. In today's cross platform world for Enterprises, it makes sense that RIM would focus on the developers that matter the most to them: game developers.

Very little was said about Java development and there are very few sessions here about Java development tools. It's clear that WebWorks is working for RIM and RIM's developers, so no real loss there. What will happen is that native Java development will only be needed for device driver or very high performance game development going forward.

The afternoon was filled with attending sessions. This year the sessions have been interesting. I've enjoyed most of them although very few of them have had the technical depth I wanted them to have. Still, the sessions have been very interesting. Open source tools are more prevalent this year. I've attended sessions on JQuery and Dojo, and there have been sessions by Sencha (I think ) and one on PhoneGap I'm attending tomorrow.

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