Catching Your Breath after the QUALCOMM BREW Developer Conference
Perhaps you went, perhaps you didn't. If you did, you might have lost sight of the key technical revelations at the conference amidst the press releases and parties; if not, you're probably still sifting through the press releases and conference proceedings on the Web at this location. As a developer, there are many things you can take away from the conference, but three are key.
Ironically, two of these are ones I don't think I would have attended, if it not for my close relationship with hardware manufacturers, a decision which would have cost me dearly. The first, Abney's talk on BREW Platform Testing, was emphatically aimed at hardware manufacturers who are working to port BREW to their handsets. This was an excellent piece for those working in the handset space, but it provided two key messages for end-user developers as well. First, it provided rare insight into just how BREW goes on the handset, and what controls are in place to ensure that the BREW platform is as stable and consistent as it is between the handsets built by completing vendors. Second, the architecture of the automated test tools (the Porting Evaluation Kit especially) provides an excellent design pattern for development houses seeking to build automated test harnesses for their own extension-based technologies.
The second—also one aimed as much, or more, for device manufacturers than for end-user developers—was Miller's Building BREW UI). This piece was probably the best introduction (in seminar or print form) on the BREW application layer I've seen to date. Not only does it review the basics of BREW (crucial if you're just starting out), letting you know that it's an event-driven platform and explaining the roles of applications and extensions in development, but it touches on things that developers see references to, such as BREW's application stack in later versions of BREW (2.1, but especially 3.0 and 3.1, which some developers are already working to support). There's also a good explanation of memory management between various applications and the extensions they create, clarifying changes to the memory model for developers who have been working with BREW since the beginning. If you didn't catch the presentation, it's definitely worth skimming the slides, even if you're a BREW expert, because it gives you a succinct update on the changes in the latest versions of BREW to support handset developers as well as a look under the hood few of us have had until now.
The final one has potentially immeasurable impact on all developers, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) or independents writing applications alike. That was Kenagy's public unveiling of QUALCOMM's uiOne initiative in his uiOne Overview, a step forward perhaps more revolutionary for handset development than even the initial launch of BREW. The uiOne platform will transform how many of us write applications, both those preloaded on handsets and those available for download. With a clean XML- and script-based separation between application UI and implementation, and the ability to build an entire application using an IDE without needing to write a line of C or C++, it has the potential to completely change many kinds of BREW applications, especially productivity applications and those embedded on the handset.
I'm excited enough by uiOne; in fact, that I'll be doing a longer piece on it for you in the near future because I think understanding uiOne and what it offers should be a key element in your decision making process as you build your engineering roadmap for applications over the next eighteen months. Look for that piece here on Developer.com in the coming weeks.
You can read more about QUALCOMM BREW at http://www.qualcomm.com/brew. For the latest news from the QUALCOMM BREW 2005 BREW Developer Conference, be sure to visit here and check out the presentations I've called out here, and others that strike your fancy.
About the Author
Ray Rischpater is the chief architect at Rocket Mobile, Inc., specializing in the design and development of messaging and information access applications for today's wireless devices. He is the author of several books on software development, including eBay Application Development and Software Development for the QUALCOMM BREW Platform, both available from Apress, and is an active Amateur Radio operator. Contact Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org.