Time to check out the Playbook

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At MAX this year RIM showed off their hot new tablet, Playbook. The more I see of this thing the more I like. Best of all - it's got support for pushing out Adobe AIR applications to the platform. That means you can now (in theory anyway) build AIR applications for the desktop, for your mobile device, for Google TV, and for the Playbook tablet. There are some good resources out there to get your started, but most of all you want to begin with Blackberry's Development Resources page. Before you go there you want to ensure you have Flash Builder 4.0.1. Not 4.0. I'm so used to my Adobe applications updating automatically 4 times a day I assumed my Flash Builder was up to date. It wasn't. It's a good 200+ meg download so getting that out of the way will help. You also also going to need to get the Blackberry AIR SDK, the Playbook ISO, VMWare Player, and, if you are like me and have a Windows 64 machine, a 32bit JDK. (I recommend this url to walk you through the 64bit issue. I mentioned this to a Blackberry representative in a meeting and there are aware of the issue.)

Once you get the tools, walk through the Getting Started guide (that's a link for the Windows version, there is also a tutorial for fruit computers). It's pretty simple and gets you up and running in a few minutes flat.

Currently you can only do pure ActionScript projects. (Important Edit: I misspoke here very badly. The Playbook has multiple ways to write applications. What I meant is that for AIR-based development it must be ActionScript-only Flex projects. One of my readers is saying I'm wrong though so I may edit this again. :) Hopefully they will add support for tag based Flex projects soon. I love ActionScript - but when it comes to layout I'm a lot more familiar with the MX tags. Of course, it would be even cooler if they also supported HTML based AIR applications. Either way though I think it's pretty darn cool. Could you imagine a tablet based version of CFAM, the mobile version of the ColdFusion Administrator built by Todd and myself? I think that would be pretty darn cool.

One quick tip for you. I'll be honest and say I read the Getting Started guide a bit quickly. I'm not sure if this is missing or if I missed it. Before you can push an application to the simulator you need to enable debugging. That takes all of two seconds. This is also required for Android development so I shouldn't be surprised. (Although oddly they also require you to setup a password.)

Anyone else playing with this yet?

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

Lafayette, LA https://www.raymondcamden.com

Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Javier Julio posted on 11/19/2010 at 3:51 AM

@Ray, where did you learn that you can only do pure AS projects? That is false. You most definitely can use Flex for AIR apps for the Playbook. I've run several demos and it works. Try some of the Adobe samples out. Although if you meant pure AS using the QNX lib (this is the Playbook AIR UI lib) then maybe so. I haven't tried a Flex project with it yet to verify.

Comment 2 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/19/2010 at 3:54 AM

First off - despite what I meant - it was definitely wrong for me to say you can only use AS apps. That is definitely not true - and I'll update the blog entry to make it clear. I believe BB supports 2 other platforms as well.

What I did mean is that for _AIR_ development you couldn't use a Flex project that made use of mx tags. It had to be pure AS.

Now as far as I know that is right - but definitely let me know if wrong.

Comment 3 by Gareth Arch posted on 11/19/2010 at 4:34 AM

I'm pretty sure you're correct about the Actionscript only projects for AIR. This was mentioned in the getting started video (they make you switch the project name from .mxml to .as).
I've begun playing with this over the last couple of days (I have to admit...the free playbook was a very tempting offer :) ) and was really surprised at how simple it was to deploy it to the Playbook via Flash Builder. I followed along via the video, dropped in the code from the sample at the BB developer site, and was up and running. Now I'm really looking forward to playing around with the API and seeing what I can get from it.
As a side note, Blackberry has done a great job with throwing incentives out to the developer community and trying to promote their new product/platform. Over at their developer forums, if you become a regular and answer other user's problems and questions, you have the chance to get rewards, conference tickets, etc. Haven't looked into Blackberry until they started working with AIR and Flex, but very happy with what I've seen so far.

Comment 4 by Gareth Arch posted on 11/19/2010 at 4:35 AM

Oh yes, and the password was mentioned in the video also...it's there, but currently doesn't verify anything...just needs some text in there.

Comment 5 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/19/2010 at 4:38 AM

Thanks for confirming I wasn't crazy Gareth. So the video mentions the password? I did the HTML one so maybe it wasn't there (but again, I was a poor reader ;).

And yeah - they are going out of their way to promote this. That's a good thing. I will not deny that I can be bribed to check something out. I'm sure other developers feel the same. It's a cheap trick - but effective. And heck - getting hardware is a big incentive. When you can _see_ the result of your work running on a real thing - it makes a huge difference.