I’ve embarked on a new project that involves writing software for the Blackberry. So far it has been a maze of encryption keys, development environments, simulators and lots of mis-steps. In the coming months I plan on writing a few posts on my experiences but, for now, I plan on focusing on one of the things that has been causing me the most pain - The Blackberry JDE (Java Development Environment) plug-in for Eclipse.
In the past I’ve used Eclipse extensively. While at Lodgenet, it was my main IDE. So I’ve gotten familiar with the environment and it’s plug-in potential. Although I consider myself experienced, I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to Eclipse which could be the main source of my agony.
Overall the JDE plug-in is very nice. It allows you to seamlessy develop and test your Blackberry application against a wide variety of simulators. (If you’ve ever checked out the original Java Development Environment from RIM, you realize how much nicer Eclipse is.) The problem I ran into is this - I had all of the JDE Component Packages installed yet I couldn’t see the simulator for the Blackberry Storm. After some back-and-forth with RIM’s Technical Support proved to be worthless, I returned to a lot of digging on Google. Thankfully I came across this thread in their support forums. It had the answer I was looking for:
You can then select the comoponent pack to use from Window->Preferences->BlackBerry JDE->Installed Components. This will let you use the simulators available for the component pack you choose.
That one simple paragraph saved the day. I can now test applications for my Storm, and my friends’ Blackberries (Friends, if you’re reading this you’ll be getting an email soon asking you to help me alpha/beta test this software.)
To help other people who are as dense as I am, or those who just want to see what I’m talking about in action, below are some instructions and screen shots that show the problem I had. I will also show you how to configure Eclipse to make your development go a little more smoothly.
Choosing Your Component Package
This is where I went wrong - I didn’t know this could be done! Simply go to Window >> Preferences and you’ll see a dialog like the one below. In the “Choose one of Installed Components” menu, you’ll see all of the JDE Component Packages that you have installed. Each component package is used for testing a different version of the RIM’s Java API and for running different phone simulators. You must do some research on which component package is appropriate for your situation, see RIM’s KB article: What Is - Appropriate version of the Blackberry JDE.
Note - I think it’s safe to assume that if the Component Package you select doesn’t include all of the devices you’d like to support, you’ll need to create a separate release. There may be a work-around or “Compatibility Setting” to make things easier, but I haven’t found (nor have I really researched) one.
Creating a Run Configuration
If you’re familiar with Eclipse, Run Configurations are nothing new. But, I include some instructions here just for completeness.
To create a new Run Configuration, go to Run >> Run Configurations and you’ll be presented with the dialog below. Using the tree on the left of the dialog, select “Blackberry Simulator” then click the “New Launch Configuration” button. Give the configuration a meaningful name (Example: “BB Pearl 8130″) and select the “Simulator” tab. On this tab you’ll see a “Profile” menu. In that menu are all of the devices that are supported by the Component Package you selected previously. To make this configuration match the name above select “8130-JDE.” Now, click the “Apply” button and that will save your configuration.
I recommend that you create a Run Configuration for each device you want to test. Alternatively, you can create a configuration for each Component Package you have installed.
Using Run Configurations
Using the configurations you create is simple - Open the Run Configurations dialog, select the appropriate configuration and then click the “Run” button. Once you use a configuration once, it will be added to the list of configurations under the “Run” button (the one that is located on the main IDE screen). One thing to remember is that you’ll get odd errors if you use a run configuration that includes a device that isn’t supported by the Component Package that you’ve selected. Therefore, be sure to keep in your mind which device you’re using and which Component Package you have selected.