With as many.NET developers as there are BlackBerry users, it’s about time Research in Motion provided some Visual Studio development tools. There's not too long to wait, as RIM used its Wireless Enterprise Symposium this week to unveil its first Visual Studio plug-in.
The MDS Visual Studio plug-in gives you a mock BlackBerry screen where you
Once you’ve created a BlackBerry project you’ll see a device screen in the layout area. The plug-in also adds a set of BlackBerry controls to the Visual Studio toolbox. There are some differences from the MDS Studio here, as RIM is using Windows naming conventions and icons. Applications are built by dragging controls to the layout, and using the Visual Studio properties dialog boxes to tie them to events, messages and code snippets.
As well as providing tools for building client-side applications, the MDS Visual Studio plug-in also adds a set of server side tools and DLLs to use a BES to push data directly to a device. This allows Visual Studio developers to user server code to pre-populate application fields, and to push data updates to users out in the field.
MDS is a tool for building business applications, and while you get access to many of the BlackBerry APIS, some aren't available. These include the media player and specific hardware APIs, like the GP built into some newer BlackBerry devices. You'll also find that you won't be able to import existing MDS Studio applications into Visual Studio - RIM is marketing this as a tool for new projects and currently doesn't have any plans for tools to transfer projects between versions.
The MDS Visual Studio plug-in is currently in closed beta, but a public release will be available shortly here. ®