I was visiting Berlin this week for the BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour, as a few other Maemo folks were also going, and I saw it as a good opportunity to meet up with some good old community members, and visit Berlin once again (my last visit to Berlin was in 2008 for the Maemo Summit 2008). Cosimo organized a meet-up at the c-base (same location as for the Maemo Summit 2008) the night before the Blackberry Jam. Before I get too much into details, you can have a look at all my photos from Berlin.
PreJam. The meetup on Wednesday at the c-base was great, meeting old community members and discussing.. erm "recent events". Meetups like this also provide a nice opportunity to meet the faces behind nicknames in the online community. While we were sitting outside, the Google I/O event was streamed in the c-base. The Blackberry guys also joined the party and talked with us about apps and the supported development approaches (web, native, Android, Flash/AIR).
BB10 Jam. The BlackBerry event itself was held at the Spreespeicher on Thursday. After a short breakfast, the event was kicked off with a keynote - no filming or photography was allowed for the whole duration of the event in the presentation room. A few presentations (web or native in parallel tracks) later, Lunch was served and then there were a few more presentations outlining the whole developer story and focusing on mobile development itself. Having done some mobile development on other platforms myself already, the only interesting parts were the Blackberry-specific content items: How packaging and publishing works, how to load apps onto the development device, etc.. At the end, Dev Alpha devices were given out to developers and drinks and snacks were served to finish off the event.
Developing on BB10. Andrew already described the porting procedure for pure-QML apps (e.g. from Harmattan or Symbian) to BB10. After registering with Blackberry, and requesting a debug certificate (which takes at least 2 hours to get a reply back), the registration procedure for the device can be carried out, which will set everything up, so that you can deploy apps to the device. It seems a bit weird having to get everything signed by Blackberry servers before being able to sideload apps to the device (with Android and MeeGo at least, you could just take any device, switch it into developer mode and deploy - without having to "ask" anyone for permission). The Eclipse-based SDK does help with all the steps that are required to set up the device, so it's not too difficult, but annoying fir the first time (after it has been configured, the debug certificate has to be renewed regularly, but you can just deploy the app locally without a network roundtrip). Not counting all the web-based registration process and requesting the certificate, it probably took me about 30 minutes to get everything set up to build qw The Game for the BB10 Dev Alpha - including device-specific modifications to the code. That's quite neat :)
The good parts. The Dev Alpha is a nice device, with hardware specs that are up to date. The SDK is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (that's how you do it, developers should be able to use the host operating system of their choice!). The SDK uses Qt by default, but you can write against pure OpenGL ES, too if you want - and according to the developer docs, an SDL port is also available. Some folks are working on a Python port to BB10, which will allow developers to easily port PySide-based applications (gPodder?) to BB10.
Improvement suggestions. You don't have root on the device. While it's okay to have a consumer device locked down, it'd be great if there was the option to have root on the developer device, if just for looking around the QNX system. Another problem is that - as far as I know - there are no UX guidelines published. Harmattan has them. Android has them. iOS has them. Publish UX guidelines and provide good example applications (not just "widget galleries" or "cookbooks") - ideally something that will look and behave like stock applications. It would be great if instead of having the PlayBook Tablet UI on the Dev Alpha, they would have provided a barebones BB10 phone UI just so that developers get a better feeling for how everything behaves.
All in all, BlackBerry has done a great job with the BB10 Jam World Tour, and I really enjoyed my time in Berlin - it was great to meet up with Maemoistas and see what they are up to these days :) Hopefully I'll get the chance to see you guys at some future events. Keep on hacking!