Cascades to offer BlackBerry devs access to slick UI assets

Back at BlackBerry World, RIM had promised that a lot of the fancy user interface elements made by their Swedish branch would become available to BlackBerry developers. This week at DevCon 2011, RIM took some time to show off the library, called Cascades. During the keynote, they showed off just some of those UI bits, and they’re rich, smooth, and many are 3D enabled. The code samples will be fully tweakable, so devs can alter the Cascade code to their liking, and they would all be available from within the native SDK.

On their own these elements seem like awfully small things – fading transitions, elastic lists, shading, and the like – but for devs without the time or expertise to pour into the visuals of their apps, Cascades stands to be a godsend. As is, many BlackBerry PlayBook applications are very bare bones when it comes to UI. The Java-based OS on RIM’s smartphones are particularly devoid of interesting interfaces, primarily because absolutely every element of it needs to be coded by hand since big building blocks of code are not provided. Combined with 3D tools from a variety of platform partners, BlackBerry PlayBook apps (and consequently apps for future BBX phones) stand to be very good-looking in the not-too-distant future. TAT has made some incredible tech demo applications in the past, and from what I’ve heard, they’ll be on call to start building RIM’s native applications once this tool framework is built up and made available to developers (something which might not be completely wrapped up until the spring).

From what I gathered at a session on the upcoming tool, most of Cascades could be implemented in a few lines of C++ code or QML (Qt). The limited beta will be kicking off sometime this fall. Here’s a quick video showing just what kinds of UI elements Cascades will offer, and if you want more specifics, check this post on RIM’s developer blog.

  • Just a comment – this is a new version of TAT’s user interface framework Cascades. So RIM didn’t “[give] that library a name: Cascades”, but it was already called Cascades. 

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