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Web and WebWorks Development

Posts: 1,382
Registered: ‎07-02-2009
My Device: BlackBerry Bold 9900
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BlackBerry WebWorks SDK for PlayBook - Webcast #1 Q&A summary

[ Edited ]

Thanks to everyone who asked the over 180 questions during yesterday's Q&A period about BlackBerry WebWorks SDK for the PlayBook.  As we were only able to get through about 80 during the 1/2 hour question period, we wanted to make sure to follow-up with the answers to some of the unanswered questions.


Don't forget to sign up for the remaining Webcast sessions.


So here they are in no particular order:





After camera is invoked from web works app, how does the application can access/receive data for the photo taken by the camera?

You can access images saved to the shared file system using file:/// protocol.


Is it possible to import a picture taken after you invoked the photocamera ?

Images taken by the camera are saved to the following location: file:///accounts/1000/shared/camera.  WebWorks content can reference files saved in this location.


How do I access PlayBook FileSystem ?

You can read shared files from file:///share/accounts/1000/shared.  There is currently no WebWorks File API for writing content to the file system.


Are regular webworks API classes like Contacts available in the tablet API yet?

Personal Information Management (PIM) APIs like address book, inbox and calendar are not yet available in the WebWorks SDK for PlayBook.


Are there any examples demonstrating what webworks on playbook is capable of?

Yes, watch the upcoming Webcasts #2 and #3 for indepth details about WebWorks functionality on PlayBook.  Also, see http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/webworks.jsp


Are there any recommendations for making WebWorks applications that leverage the Canvas API for BlackBerry OS 5 devices?

Canvas API is not supported by the Web engine on OS 5.0.  As an alternative technology, I'd suggest looking at SVG.


Are there plans to make accelerometer data available?

Yes Accelerometer data is available through the DeviceMotion API.  Will show a demo of this in Webcast #2


assuming our javascript bb6 java extensions won''t work on a playbook app, will we be able to accomplish the same for webworks apis that don''t exist yet with air?

Ability to write your own (Action Script) extension for PlayBook WebWorks apps is not currently available.


Can a video camera app be submitted to app world?

Please read the App World vendor guidelines for eligibility requirements: https://appworld.blackberry.com/isvportal/home/login.seam


I missed the first half of the presentation. What is the addres of archive version?

Archived versions of the Webcast can be found here: http://webcast.streamlogics.com/audience/index.asp?eventid=49950807


Can I use touches in a similar was as on the iPhone? (touchesBegan/touchesEnded) For instance, for moving chess pieces on a chess board. Or are touches only supported for standard screen objects?

Yes you can make use of TouchStart, TouchMove and TouchEnd events in both PlayBook WebWorks and browser content.  See the SketchPad sample in the resource center for an example.


Can jQuery or a similar framework be used in a webworks application?



Can phonegap be used on playbook?

Not at this point in time, however efforts are strongly being made to provide this support.  PhoneGap is a member of the BlackBerry Alliance program and we are working together to make sure PhoneGap can be used on PlayBook.


Can the webworks api detect orientation changes on the device?

The Web rendering engine has an orientation API that lets you detect this event.


Can we build application with Action Script?

The WebWorks SDK is designed to allow you to create PlayBook applications (which are in fact Adobe AIR runtime apps) without having to learn Action Script.  Use Action Script to create your own standalone AIR apps for PlayBook with Flash Builder.


Can we develop apps which run in background ?

Yes, you can but the user must move them to the background. 


Can we submit un-signed air-apps right now, will they get approved?

Yes you can submit unsigned apps to App World right now, however they will need to be signed at a later point in time.  Stay tuned for more details on PlayBook application code signing.


Can you describe communication with PHP or JSP? Is this supported?

Yes you can communicate with a remote PHP or JSP from a WebWorks application.  You cannot however embed these types of files directly within a WebWorks app (as the frameworks for these technologies are not installed natively on the device).


Can you specify a PHP file inside config.xml or does it have to be an HTML file?

Yes you can create a <content> and <access> element that points at a remote PHP file.  This PHP file must exist on a Web Server, and not be packaged into your app (as the PHP runtime does not exist on the device).


can you use the standard flex controls or do you have to use blackberry ui controls

For AIR development, you can use Flex controls if you'd like.  For WebWorks it is HTML.


Does CSS have to be inside the HTML files, or can I make a separate CSS file?

You can use inline or external CSS if you'd like.


does simulator have network connect currently to access web service?

Yes, the Vmware player does support NAT connectivity.  This allows the simulator to have an active network connection.


Does Tablet use SDCard and can we use file i/o to access it?

There will be a File Access mode available for transferring media similar to mass storage mode on the BlackBerry Device Software.  The Tablet does not use an SDCard however comes in different variations of storage (16Gb, 32Gb and 64 Gb)


Does the current PlayBook browser support WebGL?

No, but this is on the roadmap and may come at a later point in time.


Does the PlayBook use an ARM or an x86 processor?

See the BlackBerry PlayBook Specs for available hardware details http://us.blackberry.com/playbook-tablet/


Does the simulator emulate the gestures from the edges of the bezel (i.e. pulling from the top to get an application menu)?



Does the WebWorks SDK also have secure API that requires Certificates and Signing?

Code signing will be necessary as part of the PlayBook application development process.


Does websorks support jQuery libraries like jQuery UI?

Yes it can


does webworks pose any security risks?

WebWorks SDK allows you to create standalone applications that run on the device OS.  These applications must follow any security measures/policies in place on the device.


Does WebWorks SDK support HTML5 features?

Yes it can.  WebWorks apps can run on BlackBerry 6 and BlackBerry Tablet OS, which support HTML5.


Does WebWorks support WebGL or OpenGL ES?

Not yet, however WebGL is on the browser development team's radar.  At a future point in time, I expect WebGL to be added to the platform, and then it will be available to WebWorks applications running on supported devices.


Does webworks support ZXing (barcode scanner from camera)?

Not at this point in time.


during dev & deployment, seems Adobe AIR hasn''t been used. Why does it need to be installed?

The Adobe AIR SDK is used by the WebWorks SDK packaging process.  Watch Webcast #2 for more info about how this SDK is used.


Everytime I build an application and try to launch it into the simulator, the package gets deployed successfully and shows up on the simulator, but as soon as the loading splash screen appears, it terminates.  Any thoughts?

This sounds like a memory issue.  Confirm that the virtual machine was configured to simulate 1Gb of RAM.


HoW about ANT support for widget packager

Yes, you should be able to use ANT to automate your WebWorks build / deployment process.


How do I reset a forgotten Playbook password?

You cannot.  You must reinstall the Tablet OS software if you lose your PlayBook device password


How does  the PlayBook handle overflowing divs? On certain devices scrolling within embedded content requires a 2 finger scroll...(hopefully the PlayBook won''t be the same)

Should be consistent behavior to how this is handled on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 device, as a similar browser engine is used in both.


How will overflow-x/y work in WebWorks? It currently behaves strange.

If you have discovered a rendering bug, please report it using the Developer Issue Tracker: https://www.blackberry.com/jira/secure/Dashboard.jspa


How good are the input controls for WebWorks apps? (e.g. Date/Time Picker)

HTML5 form elements are supported such as new fields types and input modes (e.g. numeric or date).  Watch for more details about this in upcoming WebCasts.


how much user entered data can be stored & how is that stored - is there a database available?

HTML5 Web DB is supported, as is LocalStorage and SessionStorage.  Details about how much memory is assigned to your application are not currently availalbe.


How would I test integration with native apps, such as BlackBerry Maps?

BlackBerry Maps would be tested using the BlackBerry Smartphone simulator, and the WebWorks SDK for Smartphone.  Recommend trying out some of the sample code in the WebWorks API guide.


I am working on PlayBook apps with AIR. Can I also develop for any smartphones with AIR, or is this strictly for PlayBook?

Adobe AIR is not supported by Smartphones, but is by the BlackBerry Tablet OS.


I assume each app runs on a linux thread. Can apps share thread memory and resources? ...I havnt found docs that explain this level of info. Sorry if this a RTFM question

No.  Applications are sandboxed, however there is a shared memory location on the Tablet OS (see location where images are saved to by the camera app)


I know this is for playbook, however, with BB OS 5 on the smart phone, how does the apps look vs version 6 and the playbook?

A similar Web rendering engine is available on both platforms, allowing you to design content that fits well on both.  However the Smartphone has a much smaller screen than the PlayBook and so content management becomes more important.


I see that you have created an app using html and JS, is that the only technology possible or can we use AIR directly? or Flash?

You can use a mixture of technologies.  CSS/HTML and JavaScript can be embedded directly in the app itself or linked to as remote resources (similar for scriptable technologies like PHP/ASP).  You can also use Flash on the PlayBook as it is supported.


I tried your example wih CameraArguments on PlayBook but it says can''t find variable:BlackBerry

There is currently a known issue with calling the WebWorks APIs within the onload event (where thse events are occuring out of order).  This will be fixed in a future version of the simulator.


Is Flash supported? Can we add a flash file to the zip file?

Yes Flash is supported.  You should be able to package Flash content into the WebWorks ZIP archive, or link to live content (e.g. YouTube)


Is it possible for me to call into my own library from the WebWorks API?

You can create your own JavaScript library and have that packaged into your WebWorks app.


Is it possible to both record and play audio with WebWorks

Yes.  Recording can be done by the video recorder application, and audio playing can occur from directly within the WebWorks application itself.


is rim aiming to develop a Tablet OD development plugin component for Visual Studio 2008 or 2010?

There are currently no plans for supporting a Tablet OS development plugin for Visual Studio.


Is the free playbook for only North American developers?

See the Terms and Conditions of the Free BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet Offer for full details: http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/playbook_offer.jsp


status of free playbook offer?

The free PlayBook offer is available until March 15th, 2011.  See http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/playbook_offer.jsp for further details.


Is there a good way to port an existing php application?

You will need to capture the HTML content that the PHP files generate if you wish to package it in a WebWorks app.  You can also consume your PHP site by linking to it from content within your WebWorks apps.


Is there an Eclipse plugin for the PlayBook WebWorks SDK?



Is there any direct simulation ability via the Eclipse SDK?

No, the existing BlackBerry WebWorks Plug-in for Eclipse supports only Smartphone development, and integration with the BlackBerry Smartphone simulator (not the BlackBerry Tablet OS simulator)


When will the Java SDK for the PlayBook be released?

The BlackBerry Tablet OS does not currently have a JVM.  This will added to the device software, as announced during the keynote address at DevCon Asia, at a future point in time.  No further details about the schedule of this initiative are currently available.


is there any specific optimized javascript engine used by playbook like chrome uses V8 engine?

Yes, the RIM browser dev team has optimized a version of the JavaScriptCore component of the WebKit rendering engine.  This provides significant performance improvements as seen in benchmark tests such as SunSpider.


Is there PIN to PIN communications with other Playbooks or BlackBerrys?

This information is not currently available.


Is this SDK the same as the one we use for AIR? or we will need two separate ones.

If you are referring to the Tablet OS SDK, then yes it is the same.  It is bundled as part of the WebWorks SDK installation as a convenience to the developer.


Linux is not supported for development?

There is current not a WebWorks SDK for Linux. Current efforts are being focused on supporting Windows and Mac.


march 15th offer deadline... is that including the unknown time required to get approved, or the submit-by date

Please view the Terms and Conditions of the PlayBook Tablet Offer for these details: http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/playbook_offer.jsp


Right nowe there is problem with Playing sound in simulator using HTML5 (webworks).  Will that be supported in next Playbook simulator?

This is a known issue with the current version of the PlayBook simulator (0.9.2).  Expect it to be resolved in a future version of the product.


Sorry if this was asked: Is support for features (i.e. file.io) coming before the playbook offer deadline?

No ETA on when a file WebWorks API will be available for PlayBook development.  However this requirement is certainly on the team's radar.  Recommend monitoring the roadmap listed in the OSS project wiki: http://www.github.com/blackberry for further updates.


The AIR Runtime seems to have more APIs available than the WebWorks API, will WebWorks SDK get more APIs (like for acquiring location)

Yes, as more AIR apis become available and known, the intent is to expose them to the WebWorks platform in the form of a JavaScript API.  The goal is to have functional parity between AIR runtime and the WebWorks platform.


The PlayBook simulator that I currently have has no browser, when will there be a simulator available with a full browser?

The browser will be available in a future version of the Tablet OS simulator.


We are having an issue with the webworks builder on Mac OSX 10.5.8, as it will crash every time it is run.  Is this a known issue?  Is there a fix?

This is not a known issue, please submit a defect through the Developer Issue Tracker: https://www.blackberry.com/jira/secure/Dashboard.jspa


We have tried the Invoke for Maps. It is not ready yet right? We did not achieve success.

The current version of the BlackBerry Tablet OS simulator does not have a maps application.


WebWorks on Phones coud be extended by adding custom cod files and using them from javascript. How soon this will be available on PlayBook?

No ETA on when the abiliy to write your own WebWorks extensions on PlayBook will be available.


What are linitations of using OS 5.0 for webworks on smart phones

You will see a differece in JavaScript processing and page rendering performance between Device Software 5.0 and BlackBerry 6.  WebKit, introduced in BlackBerry 6 significantly improved this type of performance.  As well HTML5 became supported in BlackBerry 6 and is not available in OS 5.0.


What embedded database can we use? Like would we be able to use Firebird or javadb?

In WebWorks, you can use HTML5 Web DB which is powered by an underlying SQLite database.


What isn''t available from the WebWorks SDK from the API side that I would normally have access to from the BB Java API?  Is it possible for me to create my own BB Java library and call it from the WebWorks app? -- Thank you in advance!  -Tom

For Smartphone development with the WebWorks platform, you can create your own JavaScript Extensions.  See the tutorial on this in the BlackBerry resource center.


What programs can you now use to develop? Flash Professional, Visual Basic?

Flash Builder can be used to build AIR applications.  For WebWorks development, all you need is the WebWorks SDK for PlayBook and your favorite text editor or IDE that allows you to produce HTML/CSS.


What''s the process for connecting to existing dynamic content in a mysql database?

You cannot embed a mySQL DB in a WebWorks app but can access it remotely If you have a server-side MySQL database, recommend exposing this through a web interface (either web services or content pages) that can be consumed by your WebWorks app.


When can we start signing are apps?

Not yet.  More info about the code signing process will be revealed in the coming weeks.


when will an updated simulator be available? Version 0.9.2 is very buggy.

No ETA available on when the next version of the Tablet OS simulator will be published.


when will code signing be available, I pressume we need to do this before final submission?

Stay tuned.  Code signing will be required before final submission.


When will we see a more stable emulator image?

No publication dates are available to share right now.  Stay tuned for the next version of the simulator to be published.


Where can I download the MAC OSX version of the installer?

The Mac version of the WebWorks SDK can be downloaded here: http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/webworks.jsp


Why does the Webworks Installer require the Adobe AIR SDK?

The BlackBerry Tablet OS currently supports the Adobe AIR runtime.  The WebWorks SDK for PlayBook uses the Air SDK to produce a standalone AIR runtime application that will run on PlayBook.


Why is the simulator packaged as an installer rather than just an ISO file?

This is due to licensing & legal requirements.


Will Java be available to develop PlayBook apps?  If so, when will it be available?

Support for a Java runtime was announced at BlackBerry DevCon Asia.  There are no timelines or further details to share at this point in time.


Will javascript extensions written for OS6 work on the Playbook?

No.  Existing JavaScript Extensions for Smartphone are written in Java, which is currently not supported on PlayBook.


Will the BlackBerry Payment Service SDK support WebWorks apps?

Yes it will.  Timelines for when this functionality will be in place are not currently available.


Will there be a puglin for eclipse for playbook development?

There are no plans on supporting an Eclipse plugin for WebWorks for PlayBook development.  Currently this is a command line utility.


Will there ever be pure native support (C/C++ - run just above the OS/QNX)?

Yes, plans for a native SDK was annouced at DevCon Asia.  This will be available at a future point in time.


Will there likely be time for us if we get a physical device, to test for real before the appworld opens wide for the entire population/global sales start.

We are currently unable to provide dates on when either of these milestones will occur.


Will we always have to package our apps twice (once for PB and once for smartphones)?  How about after you release the VM for PB?

There are plans to converge the two SDKs (Smartphone and PlayBook) at a future date, however for the time being, this is a two step process involving two separate SDKs.


will we be able to auto-start applications when the playbook boots up?

No, this feature is not currently available.


will webworks will have subbort for websockets?

WebWorks applications inherit any features or supported technologies provided by the browser engine on the target device.  At this point in time, Web Sockets are not supported, however they are on the roadmap and will be availalble at a future point in time.


will you release a paybook image with default applications installed

Likely yes.  Fundamental applications such as the browser will likely be on future versions of the Tablet OS VM Image.


Does the Playbook support GPS services?

Details about GPS capabilities on PlayBook have not been announced.


Apps submitted to AppWorld are taking more than a month to be approved. Is the process on hold, or is there a bottleneck? And are there development tips to make the evaluation process easier?

No need to worry. Your submissions are currently being evaluated and you should be receiving updates when they are available.


Deadline concerns... my buddy submitted 25 days ago, no approval yet.. I haven''t submitted, will I really have enough time to submit and get approval?

As long as you submit your application before is March 15th, you will be eligible for the PlayBook BlackBerry Tablet Offer.  See Terms and Conditions for full details: http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/playbook_offer.jsp


If submissions were made and the answers seem unusually long (over 7 weeks), should there be concern?



what is the REAL deadline to submit?... if it is in the door by the 15th, and approved after, is that ok? or should we be in by end of February to be sure?

The deadline for submitting your applications is March 15th.  See Terms and Conditions for full details: http://us.blackberry.com/developers/tablet/playbook_offer.jsp


What do we use to run a PlayBook Virtual Machine on a mac?

Vmware fusion is the recommend virtual machine player for Mac which costs $49.  There is no free Vmware player for Mac.  However other developers have reported they have had success using Virtual Box (freeware) as well.


How safe is the code written with the WebWorks SDK?

Applications created using the WebWorks SDK run natively on the given device and thus follow any security policies or application permissions in place.


will there be any profiling/debug tools be available?

There is currently only the command line packager, without any debugging / profiling capabilities.  For standard HTML5 content, recommend using a desktop browser plugin like Developer Tools for Chrome (AKA “Web Inspector) or Firebug for FireFox.  These are considered by many as some of the best and most convenient in-market Web development tools for profiling this type of info. 


Are there any tools included in the WebWorks SDK that will check for comaptibiltiy with previously developed BB Apps?

No, there are currently no tools that do this.  It sounds like a great feature enhancement request and would encourage you submit a request through the Developer Issue Tracker: https://www.blackberry.com/jira/secure/Dashboard.jspa


How safe is the code written for WebWorks in terms of others looking at it (akin to View source of a web page)

There is no view source ability for the Web rendering engine on PlayBook


someone can extract my code from pakage?

Although it is possible to open a *.bar file using a packaging utility like WinZip (which would contain any assets of a WebWorks application), the ability to copy a *.bar file off of a PlayBook device is not possible (as installation and removal of applications will be managed by App World).


What is the best way to debug javascript in the sim? Is there a code like ALT-LGLG to access a debug log in the webkit browser?

No there isn't a view source hotkey code.  As there is currently no integrated debugging tools, recommendation is to use desktop browsers for development/profiling of standard web content, and any necessary custom debug code built into your app (e.g. alert statements, or DHTML) for testing device capabilities on the Tablet OS.


How do I simulate multi-touch interaction with the simulator?

This is currently not possible with the Tablet OS simulator.


What version of Eclipse IDE is best for HTML/CSS/Javascript developer?

Recommend using the BlackBerry WebWorks Plug-in For Eclipse, if you wish to do WebWorks development for the Smartphone.  You can also use Eclipse to produce the Web content that you can package and process with the WebWorks packager for PlayBook command line utility.


Can you guys release a FireFox plugin for validating CSS/HTML for the playbooks conveniently in a Browser?!

As the current Web Platform for BlackBerry is powered by WebKit, focus will be placed on exposing its internal Web Inspector service, as previewed during the keynote presentation at DevCon Asia.  Stay tuned for further updates about this initiative.


When will camera roll support be in webworks api?

Camera roll is the storage location of pictures taken by the camera app.  APIs are currently being worked on for this.  Watch github for updates and a roadmap of future requirements being made there.

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Re: BlackBerry WebWorks SDK for PlayBook - Webcast #1 Q&A summary

Thanks, Adam, for posting this Q&A.  It was a good first session.  I'm looking forward to the next few.


I have only one question about the Hello World app that you walked through developing during the first session.  After I installed and ran the app on the PlayBook simulator, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to exit the app!?  I had to reboot my VMware image.

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Re: BlackBerry WebWorks SDK for PlayBook - Webcast #1 Q&A summary

You need to swipe up from the bottom bezel... place the cursor on the bottom of the black bezel, hold down the left mouse button and swipe up Smiley Happy

Tim Neil
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Re: BlackBerry WebWorks SDK for PlayBook - Webcast #1 Q&A summary


astanley wrote:

How do I access PlayBook FileSystem ?

You can read shared files from file:///share/accounts/1000/shared.  

I believe that's a typo, and should be just file:///accounts/1000/shared.


(I'm also surprised that this is being documented here as the path to use... seems brittle.  Wouldn't it have been better to assign a symbolic link, like "/share", to point to that folder?  Or to use an app-sandbox-relative path, as there is already a symbolic link to the shared/ folder in the app's own folder.  Or can WebWorks apps not have a way to do that?)

Peter Hansen -- (BB10 and dev-related blog posts at http://peterhansen.ca.)
Author of White Noise and Battery Guru for BB10 and for PlayBook | Get more from your battery!