BlackBerry Java Application : Installing the Development Environment - downloading the Java Development Kit

9/14/2012 3:41:02 AM

System requirements

Even though most of the tools we will be using are written in Java, and the language we are using is Java, the system requirements still say that a Windows system is needed. This is because not ALL of the tools are written in Java and are therefore not portable. Specifically, the Simulators, which are an integral part of developing an application, are not portable and are Windows specific. We require:

  • Windows 2000 SP1, Windows XP, or Windows Vista

  • 512MB of RAM

  • 500MB of disk space

  • Java v6 update 16 (32-bit) (older versions of the JDE may work with older JDK versions, but it is best to get the latest version)

Development Environments

The first and original option is called the BlackBerry Java Development Environment or JDE for short. The JDE is a custom development environment created by RIM for the sole purpose of developing applications in Java for BlackBerry handhelds. This customized nature is both good and bad. On the one hand, you have an environment where you can do everything you need to do, and nothing more, which can lead to a concise and simple environment. On the other hand, simplicity also means lack of power, and some users may find this to be frustrating.

The second option is to use the BlackBerry Eclipse plugin. Eclipse is an open source IDE that has become the de facto industry standard for Java development. There is a large maintenance team and new features are added to it regularly. The open source nature of it means that the program is largely stable and bug free. However, because it can be used for a wide variety of projects, there are tools and other capabilities that won't be used when working on BlackBerry projects, and this can lead to confusion.

We will focus on developing applications using the BlackBerry Eclipse plugin. Because Eclipse is a more common platform, getting help and support should be easier if there are problems. Eclipse is faster, more responsive, and offers more features. Developers with Java experience are more likely to have already used it and this helps to get started quickly.

Downloading and installing Java

Java is required to run both Eclipse and the JDE because they are written using Java. This is handled by the Java Runtime Environment (JRE), but we also need another important component. Compiling the applications that we will be making is handled by the Java Development Kit (JDK), so we also need to make sure that this is installed. Fortunately, we don't have to install two separate packages; the JDK installer also includes the JRE, which makes things a little bit easier.

As you can see, the first order of business is to download and install the latest Java JDK, if it isn't already installed.

The latest BlackBerry SDK only requires Java 6 Update 16. However, it is always best to install the latest version. All updates in the Java 6 family should be backward compatible.

Time for action - downloading the Java Development Kit

  1. There are many versions of Java, and if you are unfamiliar with the various flavors, this can be confusing. To be more specific, you need to download and install the Java SE SDK without any other bundles. You will need version 6 Update 20, which is the latest version at the time of this writing. The latest versions can be found at

  2. The next step is to select which version of the JDK is to be downloaded. The drop list offers choices for many common systems and environments. You want to make sure to select the "Windows" version. You must also check the I agree checkbox before continuing.

    You may be tempted to select the Windows x64 option if you are running Windows Vista x64 or Windows 7 x64. The BlackBerry SDK does not support 64-bit operating systems, so even if you have a 64-bit operating system, select the standard Windows 32-bit version. You can do development on 64-bit versions of Windows, but the SDK will operate in 32-bit compatibility mode.

  3. Upon clicking the Download button, a browser dialog will be shown asking you to log into a Sun Online Account. This step isn't required and even though it says Optional in the title bar, the>>Skip this Step link at the bottom of the dialog is easy to miss. You can create an account if you like, but there are no drawbacks to skipping the process either.

  4. The next page gives you the actual download links to begin the download process. You can click on the link jdk-6u20-windows-i586.exe and download it directly using your browser, or you can check the checkbox and click on the red Download Selected with Sun Download Manager button. Using the download manager will allow you to pause and resume a download in process.

What just happened?

Obviously, if you are going to be doing Java development, then you need the proper software installed to compile and run Java applications. This process can be surprisingly confusing because of the number of different install packages that are available. You need the basic (or Standard Edition) version of the JDK in order to accomplish your goals.

Once the file has completed downloading (either by doing a standard download or using the Sun Download Manager), execute the file to start the installation. In either case, navigate a File Explorer window to the location you downloaded the file to and double-click on the file jdk-6u20-windows-i586.exe.
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