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BlackBerry Developer Meet-up September (Built For BlackBerry Revitilized)

  • Saturday, 14th September 2013 at 3:30pm - 8:30pm
    Location: ihub Bishop Magua Building George Padmore Lane Nairobi, Nairobi KE

    Register Here

    • 12 people attended

Built For BlackBerry and Certification

  • Saturday, 3rd August 2013 (all day)
    Location: Ihub 4th Floor Bishop Magua Centre

    Now that everyone is looking forward to build application which qualifies for built for BB We…

    • 45 people attended


  • Saturday, 4th May 2013 at 10am - 5:30pm
    Location: IHub Nairobi

    It was amazing to get great ideas hit the floor as we get new developers started as well as…

    • 22 people attended

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Touch Typing Has a Whole New Meaning
© User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

© User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The capacitive touch keyboard on the upcoming BlackBerry Passport gives users a new way to interact with their BlackBerry.  It allows users to have different interactions for pressing and touching a key.  An application is able to differentiate between the two types of events and capture where the user touches the keyboard and where they move their fingers across the keyboard, similar to what is done with touch screen displays.  This provides a totally new way for users to interact with your application.  You could do something as  simple as detecting a swiping movement on the keyboard and scroll the content of your application, or something more complex like making use of the touch keyboard as a gamepad to control a game.  Either way, this frees up the screen, which can now be used for more content and less controls.

We’ve added some new APIs in both WebWorks and Cascades to capture keyboard touch events.  Let’s take a look at an example in C++.




//Create an event listener for the TouchKeyboardHandler Container* container = root->findChild<Container*>("mainContainer");


//Set focus to the container, enabling all types of TouchKeyBoard events. container->requestFocus();


//Setup the TouchKeyboardHandler bb::cascades::TouchKeyboardHandler* handler = TouchKeyboardHandler::create().onTouch( this, SLOT(handleTouch(bb::cascades::TouchKeyboardEvent *)));




The code sample above shows accessing a Container that’s defined in QML and adding a TouchKeyboardHandler to it.  It begins with focus on the container by calling container->requestFocus(), which enables all types of touch events to be caught.  Controls can bubble touch events up to their parent controls if they are not consumed.  Note that all keyboard touch events except Cancel are captured by TextField and TextArea.  In order to capture up, down and movement touch events, focus must be set to a non-text entry field like the Container used above.  To receive the touch signals, we define a handleTouch method like this:

void ApplicationUI::handleTouch(bb::cascades::TouchKeyboardEvent *event) { bb::cascades::TouchType::Type touchType; touchType = event->touchType();


QString msg = QString("Touch keyboard event type is = ");


if (touchType ==  bb::cascades::TouchType::Down) { msg.append("Down"); } else if (touchType ==  bb::cascades::TouchType::Up) { msg.append("Up"); } else if (touchType ==  bb::cascades::TouchType::Move) { msg.append("Move"); } else if (touchType ==  bb::cascades::TouchType::Cancel) { msg.append("Cancel"); } msg.append(" Finger: "); msg.append(QString::number(event->fingerId())); msg.append (" X: "); msg.append(QString::number(event->screenX())); msg.append (" Y: "); msg.append(QString::number(event->screenY())); msg.append("\n");

m_outputTextArea->setText(msg + m_outputTextArea->text()); }

In this method we’re collecting information about the touch event and displaying it in text form in a TextArea.  The touch type, x/y coordinates and finger Id are displayed.  Finger Id refers to the unique touch point for the TouchKeyboardEvent.  For example finger Id would be 0-3 if you had 4 fingers placed on the keyboard at the same time.




Touch keyboard events can also be captured directly in QML.  Here’s a code snippet that you could place within a control to capture touch keyboard events.

eventHandlers: [ TouchKeyboardHandler { onTouch: { console.log("TouchKeyboard event captured From QML! Event: " + event.touchType); } } ]




WebWorks developers are also able to work with touch keyboard events.  The touch type (start, move and end) and x/y positions can be captured in WebWorks as well.  The next code sample shows how that can be done.

<script type="text/javascript">


document.addEventListener("keyboardtouchstart", touchCallback); document.addEventListener("keyboardtouchmove", touchCallback); document.addEventListener("keyboardtouchend", touchCallback);

function touchCallback(event) {

if (event.type==="keyboardtouchstart")) { console.log('The user touched the keyboard at ' + event.timeStamp + '.'); }


if (event.type==="keyboardtouchmove") { console.log('The user has moved to: X coord: ' + event.x + ', Y coord: ' +  event.y); }


if (event.type==="keyboardtouchend") { console.log('Finger lifted from keyboard at ' + event.timeStamp + '.'); } } </script>


Using the Simulator


The BlackBerry Simulator Controller can be used to simulate touch keyboard events on the BlackBerry 10 Simulator.  Once the Controller is connected to the simulator, click on the “Touch Area” heading to expand a grey rectangle below.  You can then left click and drag in that rectangle to simulate touch events.  A limitation with this over a real BlackBerry Passport is that you can only simulate a single touch point at a time.



This should cover everything you need to know to create a touch keyboard enabled application.  If you have any questions, visit our BlackBerry Developer Forum and ask me.

5 days ago
iBeacons™ aren’t the only Fruit!
Image: “Lighthouse at Dusk” courtesy of “"Serge Bertasius Photography” / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: “Lighthouse at Dusk” courtesy of “”Serge Bertasius Photography” / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


I was really interested to discover recently that the iBeacon™ technology specification that Apple™ has written isn’t the only Beacon specification out there. AltBeacon (http://altbeacon.org/ ) is described as “The Open and Interoperable Proximity Beacon Specification” by Radius Networks, which has blogged about the reasons it has introduced a new standard into the Beacon space.

This specification seems to have attracted a fair amount of interest recently with implementation being shown on various platforms such as Android, iOS, RaspberryPi and Arduino, to name a few. Well, this seemed like a challenge to me. I was sure I could demonstrate that BlackBerry 10 was flexible and agile enough to be able to accommodate this new, open specification. Here’s how I did it.

The Use-Case

I’d already written a couple of sample applications that use iBeacon™ technology –WheresMyBeacon and WakeMeByBeacon – so I thought I’d take these two applications and add AltBeacon support to them, along with iBeacon™ support. That meant taking a look at the AltBeacon specification itself: https://github.com/AltBeacon/spec.

What is AltBeacon?

In the same way that iBeacon™ is a structure imposed on the Bluetooth Low Energy Manufacturer’s field in the Bluetooth Low Energy Advertisement Protocol Data Unit (PDU), so is AltBeacon. You can find the diagram below on the AltBeacon specification web site (https://github.com/AltBeacon/spec):


At first glance, this looks similar to the iBeacon™ format and, as such, easy to access and parse in BlackBerry 10. The key difference is that while the iBeacon™ format mandates that the Manufacturer Id should be Apple’s (0x004c), AltBeacon doesn’t. A company could use their own Manufacturer Id to further allow interpretation of the other fields, including the Beacon Id, which is just 20 octets of data with no structure imposed on it. As with iBeacon™, it has a Reference RSSI field (the power of the beacon measured in dBm at 1m from the beacon) so that you can gauge proximity in the same way you can with iBeacon.

This looked simple enough, but I had one problem: I didn’t have a real AltBeacon to test with. So I built one!

My AltBeacon Implementation

Here’s my AltBeacon. I used a nice piece of kit from CSR  called the CSR µEnergy® Starter Development Kit. You can see it in the diagram below, in the red box, attached to a programmer (the blue object with USB and SPI cables attached). Pre-empting myself a little, you can also see my BlackBerry 10 device running my updated version of WakeMyByBeacon detecting the AltBeacon.


The CSR SDK allowed me to write a simple AltBeacon implementation in “C”. Here’s a fragment of the code that constructs the Advertisement Payload:


You can see where I specify the Advertising Frame payload in the red box above and then store it and instruct the device to start advertising using that payload. I’ve also used the BlackBerry Limited Manufacturer Id of 0x003c (encoded using little-endian as {0x3c, 0x00}) and fixed the Reference RSSI field as 0xc2 – a nice small negative number to represent a realistic dBm value. It was quite easy.


The next part was to modify the class in my BlackBerry 10 applications that parses the Advertisement data: BtleAdvertData. The code fragment above shows how the main elements of the AltBeacon payload are parsed in BlackBerry 10.

With just one or two other changes to display the different beacon data types on the handset, I fired up the CSR board and my updated WakeMeByBeacon application. Here’s a screenshot of it working:


You can see that it has detected an Estimote iBeacon™, which is somewhere nearby, as well as the AltBeacon running on the CSR board. Also notice that I was able to interpret the BlackBerry Limited Manufacturer Id field correctly in the BlackBerry 10 application.

That’s pretty much it!


I’ve released V1.1.0 of the WakeMeByBeacon and V2.1.0 of the WheresMyBeacon applications, which now contain the additional AltBeacon feature described in this article, so you can download, review and reuse the full source code. You can find the URLs in the “Resources” section below. I hope this has been interesting and will help set you on your way toward developing real-world beacon applications for Blackberry 10.

Please feel free to contact myself (@jcmrim via Twitter) if you need help on anything related to Bluetooth Low Energy.


BlackBerry Bluetooth LE Developer Resource Index Page

WakeMeByBeacon Application Project on GitHub

Wheres My Beacon? Using beacon technology in mobile app development – Blog Post 1

Beacon testing and configuration using Blackberry 10 – Blog Post 2

WheresMyBeacon Application Project on GitHub

BlackBerry 10 Headless Applications

Annual Leave Application Exhibiting a Common Enterprise Mobile Architecture


John Murray – @jcmrim

5 days ago
How Businesses are Going Paperless with BlackBerry and ProntoForms

Papers, papers and more papers — stacks, reams, and file cabinets full of them.

Developer ProntoForms saw an opportunity and leveraged the BlackBerry 10 developer tools to build a solution. This is exactly the sort of opportunity that we’re encouraging BlackBerry Developers to harness as our focus on the enterprise market sharpens. Read about how this app was built for BlackBerry and how customers are using it in their daily operations.

For too long, this all-too-familiar scenario has been one of the major bottlenecks in the business pipeline, from the very act of carrying all the forms to filling them out, sorting them, and delivering them to offices so they can be pored over and filed away.

But there’s a better, more efficient way to tackle this challenge, made possible by BlackBerry and ProntoForms, and business is better because of it.

As ProntoForms explains on its website:

“ProntoForms is an App + Web Portal solution that enables rapid, media-rich and error-free data collection in the field using mobile devices such as the latest BlackBerry 10 devices. With the push of a button, you can connect collected data and reports with popular cloud services (Dropbox, Box…) or with your back office system.”

Sounds pretty cutting-edge, and is certainly better than the alternative!

Let’s take a look at a few businesses getting a productivity edge by taking advantage of BlackBerry and ProntoForms:

Tanknology (Video)


Tanknology is the world’s largest provider of tank testing and environmental compliance services for petroleum systems, and visits more than 50,000 sites around the world.

Before using BlackBerry and ProntoForms, the company was tethered to a cumbersome pen-and-paper system for their inspection forms, says Jason Bloch, Tanknology’s Manager of Inspection Services. The inspectors would then go back to their homes or hotels at the end of the day to scan all the paperwork and send it in.

“It took them an additional hour to two hours every night to make sure they got the paperwork uploaded correctly,” says Bloch.

According to Edward Casiano, a company inspector, the BlackBerry/ProntoForms combination “makes it just much quicker to walk around and do the inspection.”


“The functions with the sliding makes it easy to go back and forth with two forms,” he says. “It’s just an easy device to carry around.”

“The integrated camera feature enables inspectors to take pictures of deficiencies and have it imbedded right in the report,” Bloch explains.


He also likes the Geo Stamp feature that gives a digital imprint of the date and time when the inspection was submitted and the address from where the inspection was submitted.

“It gives us a corresponding view on Google Maps which gives our customers confidence to know our data is accurate and truthful.”


Tanknology’s streamlining led to an increase in the number of sites they could inspect.

“Prior to ProntoForms, we were doing about 300 inspections a month on a regional scale, and now that we’ve implemented ProntoForms, we’re doing about 1,200 to 1,300 inspections per month, coast-to-coast,” says Bloch.

“Data security is critical for us. We need to know that the information we’re providing is not only accurate, but it’s secure,” he points out, “and we know that BlackBerry is a secure device with a secure network.”



Ehrlich Pest Control had similar challenges prior to using ProntoForms on BlackBerry.

“I used to have to carry a binder around, full of papers and everything in it,” says Ehrlich’s Operation Manager, Bill Kozel. “I would fill out the form in front of the customer, collect all my data, and then take it back to the office. Today, all I need is my BlackBerry and I’m ready to go.”

In pest control, the nature of the job makes it difficult to carry around binders and papers for every circumstance.

“Our whole purpose is to not only eliminate pest problems, but also to give colleagues and homeowners peace of mind,” says Paul Kamzelski, Ehrlich’s Director of Customer Service. “We have 2,000 employees throughout North America in the field, and every one of them are in front of one of our customers.”

For Kozel, everything about the process is better, whether in front of the customer or sending in forms to the office.

“It looks more professional,” he says. “The navigation from the BlackBerry to the ProntoForms through the site to the different documentation seems to be seamless. At the end of the day, I hit one keystroke and off the information goes.”


For Kamzelski, the streamlining of the various forms and submission processes is a big advantage for the company.

“It’s all given immediately after the inspection, sent to the office,” he says. “The paperwork is complete and there’s nothing else to do except to go out and inspect more accounts. It’s safe.”


By his own admission, Kamzelski isn’t a “computer-savvy” guy, but he finds it “easy,” “simple,” and “user-friendly,” as he puts it.

“One thing we like about the BlackBerry is that it’s one device out there, and we don’t have to use any other type of device, because we can do it all just by using the BlackBerry,” he says. “It’s a one-stop shop to do it all.”

Tavern in the Square (Video)


Illustrating the power and versatility of BlackBerry and ProntoForms, we’d be remiss if we left out the restaurant industry.

Tavern in the Square runs a number of restaurants in Massachusetts, with most in the greater Boston area.

“We have seven current locations and we’re growing with three more this year,” says Paul Booras, the company’s Director of Culinary Operations. “We’re that mid-scale place to hang out in the neighborhood.”

Booras says he works out in the field as well as the corporate office, and even is in the kitchen at times.


As with Tanknology and Ehrlich Pest Control, Tavern in the Square was subject to paper forms and the filing routine before making the switch, saying, “The daily tools that a traditional operator would use would be between 25-30 sheets of paper a day – information that we needed and were really going to track – we build those into forms and eliminate the paper.”


Booras built a form in ProntoForms to keep track of everything at the various locations. He goes systematically through the restaurant, keeping detailed notes.

“I send a report, when I complete it, to the chef of the location; the general manager of the location, and it gives me this long-term, permanent record that I can have and then I can come back in and use it as a baseline to push performance,” he says.


Booras recognizes the value of the user experience with his BlackBerry, saying the device “is super-fast; it fits really nicely and has a nice feel.”

“I’m still a keyboard fan,” he says. “I like to feel the click. I find that my BlackBerry gives me speed and accuracy when I need it, but I still have that luxury of a touchscreen.”

Going through multiple forms is made easy on the BlackBerry, an experience Booras appreciates.

“There’s lots of information out there, but how can you go through that information and find out where the best place is to apply positive effort and energy to move the business forward? I think that’s the one great thing that the tool does.”

A Paperless Experience Powered by BlackBerry

For Tanknology, Ehrlich Pest Control and Tavern in the Square, BlackBerry along with ProntoForms is used to go paperless and save themselves a lot time, energy and travel.

Mobile productivity may be a relatively new experience for many businesses, but it certainly isn’t a passing fad, as businesses the world over are discovering.

BlackBerry has a fantastic roster of first-party and third-party productivity apps that can change your business for the better.

To check out ProntoForms, download the app at BlackBerry World.

Are you working on an app or service that fills an enterprise need? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

5 days ago

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