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RIM To Provide Visual Studio Plug-In for BlackBerry Apps

Research in Motion this week announced it is developing a Visual Studio plug-in for developing apps for BlackBerry devices, a move that follows its late-April announcement of software that will provide Windows Mobile 6-based phones with a "virtual" BlackBerry experience.

RIM said in a statement that Visual Studio developers will be able to use the new plug-in to create BlackBerry apps that use Web services to integrate with .NET-based systems.

Developers will be able to build "rich client applications with a flexible user interface, offline data storage, asynchronous push, and secure data access," RIM said.

RIM attributed a number of other benefits to the plug-in, including the ability for enterprises to use existing skill sets to develop for the BlackBerry, and the fact apps created with it will leverage the BlackBerry Enterprise Server’s security architecture.

Kenn Scribner of the .NET software development consulting firm Wintellect tells RDN in an e-mail that RIM's announcement addresses one of the troubles mobile developers face -- coding to a variety of platforms. 

"I must honestly tell you that I've not programmed a line of code for the Blackberry, and frankly hadn’t considered it until now. It isn't that I couldn’t figure the Blackberry out, but it's one of many mobile platforms we have to develop for, and learning yet another platform is painful and time-consuming," said Scribner.

"By bringing .NET to one of the most popular mobile business platforms RIM has opened up huge opportunities for .NET developers to leverage their existing mobile code investment. With the Visual Studio integration, it should make developing for the BlackBerry as easy as developing for a Windows Smartphone," he added.

RIM claims a BlackBerry user base of 8 million, and reported earlier this year that revenue for the fiscal year ending March 3 was $3 billion, compared to last year’s $2.1 billion take.

RIM is a dominant player in the smartphone market, but of late is facing a strong push from Microsoft. Redmond earlier this year unveiled WM6 and the .NET Micro Framework 2.0. The latter leverages Visual Studio tools and .NET, but caters to smaller devices with limited processing capacity.  

RIM said the Visual Studio plug-in will be available later this year as a free download.

About the Author

Chris Kanaracus is the news editor for Redmond Developer News.

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