03-28-2012 09:26 AM - edited 03-28-2012 09:28 AM
@pwerry. The free tools and the free trial version should be sufficient to determine if the investment is worth it. As @navikun mentioned, you have alternatives to develop for the PlayBook that other playforms do not have. Plus, the new BB phones will allow you to use the same IDE for a larger consumer base. Plus, you can use the IDE to develop for Android and iOS. Additionally, you can use the same IDE to create desktop apps for Windows and iOS. Finally, you can use the same IDE for browser based widgets and apps. So one binding technology from desktop to browser to mobile phones (BB phones) to the major tablets. So with one IDE you can take your app across all devices and platforms.
For example, it took me 15 minutes to port a PlayBook app to GTab tablet. That alone saved me hundreds of dollars in time and tools. Multiply that by multiple number of apps and multiply that to get to iOS. It is less about the cost of the tool but the size of the market you want to reach and how fast you want to reach them.
If you are only focus on PlayBook for 1 or 2 simple apps, then your question is valid. If you are talking about 3+ apps for multiple tablet platforms and the new BB10 phones, then FB's cost is insignificant.
In the end, it is your decision (of course). Only you can determine what types of apps you want to bring to the PlayBook, their complexity and their market reach and how best to do that in terms of cost and schedule. Hope all this helps.
03-28-2012 11:49 AM
... that doesn't take away from the fact that the "main" development platform is AIR, and the easiest way to develop for it is to use FB.
I'll note that even that isn't even going to be true going forward. AIR was the primary environment at first, because it was more advanced for their purposes, but WebWorks and the Native SDK are the official primary environments going forward and, presumably after BBWC/BB10 Jam in May, the Native one is likely to become the flagship environment.
(Both my apps were done with the command line tools, by the way, and I don't believe I ever suffered from not having access to FB or the IDEs. Not everyone works this way obviously, and some are crippled without an IDE, but there's no question that some can compete using just the free tools.)
03-28-2012 12:07 PM
03-28-2012 11:29 PM
You can write AIR apps without Flash Builder. In fact I do everyday.
I use the VMware simulator for testing, Notepad++ for writing code, and two batch scripts for compiling/signing/deploying.
At devcon RIM was giving out free copys of Flash Builder, so I actually have a copy installed on my computer, but I still prefer to use Notepad++.
(And as for a free default sdk, what you really want is for RIM to release cascades...)
03-29-2012 02:00 AM
I have found the free FlashDevelop to be completely adequate for creating AIR apps for PlayBook. The most important productivity feature I get out of an IDE is code completion, and FlashDevelop does that just fine. My compile & deploy flow for simulator and device testing is just a set of Windows batch files. I prefer this over having a bunch of options buried in dialog boxes and menus under an IDE. If you take a little time to organize a batch file based build flow you can make it generic across projects and modular/granular enough to do quick iteration loops on any part of your build flow.
03-29-2012 02:33 AM
Thanks guys for the feedback, I was not aware that RIM is planning on gravitating to native for BB 10, but I suppose that is a logical step.
I tried to steer the discussion toward the business strategy for developer adoption, it seems we've gotten a bit derailed. Everyone has provided some very helpful feedback about the value of the tools and their alternatives, but the point about developer adoption seems to have been missed. It's fine to discuss alternatives and strategies, but how does this help attract developers? How does this help the platform perform against its competitors? These alternatives have presumably existed for quite a while, so why is it more developers aren't flocking to the platform? As I said before, all of us here have no issues seeking out alternatives or paying for the tools because we clearly understand the value and we're driven to get it done. But your average hobby developer will give up as soon as they hit resistence in favour of simpler alternatives. They just don't care enough or have the time to figure it out. They represent a large and important part of the developer ecosystem, and whether you like it or not, their participation is crucial to the success of the platform.
Given the impression that RIM is going native as a default platform, my guess is that RIM will provide some simplistic dev tools on the native side that don't require the purchase of expensive dev suites. Looking forward to BB 10 Jam, personally this gets me pretty excited!
03-29-2012 05:20 AM
my guess is that RIM will provide some simplistic dev tools on the native side that don't require the purchase of expensive dev suites. Looking forward to BB 10 Jam, personally this gets me pretty excited!
Yes, it's called WebWorks.
03-29-2012 06:04 AM
webworks? I was under the impression that Webworks was still lagging significantly behind the native functionalities. Are you saying RIM is planning trying to push developers towards HTML5 as the go-to platform of choice over native?.
03-29-2012 08:21 AM
03-29-2012 08:39 AM
I dont think RIM is pushing anyone to one technology or another. They have always said the have different technologies for different developers for different kinds of apps. I've spent years doing C++ apps, web apps and AS3 apps. Currently, I enjoy AS3 as my development environment for a lot of different reasons. In terms of coding learning curve and coding complexity, for me it goes from HTML/JS -> AS3 -> C/C++. So depending on your experience and needs, one of these will fit well for you (or can evolve into). Until RIM provides a C++ framework (ala AS3), I am personally staying clear because (for me) is a step back in terms of software design (currently), I dont want to deal with memory management and I dont need that kind of horsepower for my apps. I also want to be able to port easily to other platforms, where the NDK will never allow me to do that (for my apps).
For true game developers who do a lot in C/OGL, the NDK is great. For web developers, Webworks is great. For others, we have AS3. RIM's solution is unique in that you are not totally forced to learn a new software technology. All of these have been around for many years and in the case of C/C++/OGL -- decades. That is pretty compeling for developers.
RIM could do a better job to enumerate the choices to new developers. It would be good for someone to package up a turn-key, "poor mans" IDE of entry level developers. I am certain RIM has a good relationship with Adobe and Adobe offers Flash Builder, so that offering would not come from RIM.
What will attract developers is market share. Will the PlayBook do better this year? Will the BB10 phones be game changers? Can RIM execute on their devices? Can RIM effectively market to consumers? Can RIM energize enterprises to stay with BB? The answers to these question will drive developers to the platform. It has always been a catch-22. Company/person "A" wont use BB10/PB unless it has "X". And developer who has "X" wont port it to the BB10/PB unless it has "Y" percent or number of consumers to recover the cost to port and market "X".
It is a risk for all for certain.