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Research In Motion has released multiple tools and application programming interfaces that are aimed at making it easier for developers to create Web applications for BlackBerry smartphones.
The company released a BlackBerry plug-in for Eclipse, and this enables content creators to make programs in the familiar Eclipse 3.4 environment. Software makers can test and debug BlackBerry programs that use HTML, CSS, Ajax, Silverlight, Ruby on Rails, and other rich Internet applications.
For those developers who are comfortable in the Visual Studio environment, the BlackBerry maker also released a similar plug-in for Microsoft's Visual Studio version 1.2. Both tools have BlackBerry simulators for testing, and offer developers a way to profile data traffic, load times, and use of Web-based content. Developers will also be able to take advantage of RIM's real-time push technology by using the APIs.
"The BlackBerry developer tools portfolio aims to bring together the best of Java and Web development for the creation of Web applications that are integrated with core BlackBerry smartphone functions for a seamless, intuitive, and robust user experience," said Alan Brenner, senior VP of BlackBerry's platform group, in a statement.
The move comes as mobile applications are becoming an increasingly important part of smartphone platforms. Apple has brought this to the forefront with its App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and those users have downloaded more than 1.5 billion apps in about a year. While the BlackBerry App World still only has less than 5% as many programs as the App Store, RIM said it is going after a premium audience and it is happy with its download rates.
Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).