Riding the wave

Alright, as I promised, my plan was to write about mobile topics and here I am. Here comes my first article in the mobile space (specifically bada).

Last friday me and some colleagues from university attended the german Samsung Bada Developer Day held in Frankfurt am Main. Some of us already had quite some experience with Android and mobile in general, therefore it was definitely an interesting event for us.

What did i expect from the event?

  • Outstanding talks – I basically love tech talks and presentations – i hoped they were really cool
  • Lots of developer topic coverage, less focus on consumer and advertising of the devices. Give us hints why we should consider bada at all.
  • My highest hopes were to receive a free Samsung Wave phone. That would actually motivate me to participate in the developer challenge. Google did this on almost every occasion during the last year. And as it turns out some sources say that there will be (at least) 100 Samsung Waves drawn between the 200 attendees of the event.

Before I came across the news that there will be a Samsung Bada Developer Day held in Germany, i already invested some hours of my precious spare-time to hack on some bada stuff. I have quite some background in C++ and therefore this was not really a problem for me. Strangely to run the code, bada compiles a new simulator each time you want to execute your code, and links in your own app via a C++ lib file. It also means that each time you want to change and test something you need to restart the whole simulator. Compared to the Android approach it looks kinda one-legged to me. Anyways, i am not that kinda guy that wants to write mobile applications inside an emulator or simulator. It’s a good thing to test different settings, but it’s not the best approach to work productively on mobile applications. At least as of now (bear in mind – i did not yet work with the iPhone SDK). I have high hopes that we actually can leverage future simulators when developing mobile applications.

Even before the event itself the winners of the 100 Samsung Waves were contacted via email – three of us (including me) received a winners email and we were really happy about it.


Arrived at the parking lot across the Cocoon Club

Long story short, let’s move on to the event itself. We met at the main station in Heidelberg and drove approx. an hour to Frankfurt. With a navigation system in each of our pockets and another one built into the car this is not really troublesome nowadays. We reached the event location quite early and got ourselves some cool seats.

Cocoon Club Hallway

First of all the location was really awesome. The event was held inside the Cocoon Club, which normally hosts techno and house music events. Beamers to each side displayed huge Samsung logos and a lot of ocean themed Images onto the walls. Everything else, including the toilets!, was also really cool.

DevDay Screens in the toilet!

Big thanks to Samsung and the team that held the event. They did their jobs very well.

The talks?

Yeah, let’s move onto the talks. Sadly they didn’t all fulfill my expectations. The talk of the first Samsung Developer Advocate (the guy from Samsung London) was kinda interesting. Lots of stuff i already knew, but it was one of the very few talks where I at least got some new information.

Bada Developer Advocate from London

There are a lot of concepts you need to take into consideration when working with the bada SDK, for example you need to delete objects yourself that were returned by functions with a trailing N (something like getMediaManagerN ()) and you also need to work with result values instead of exceptions. There is no exception support in bada so far, and I guess there will never be one. To work around the missing exceptions when constructing objects you need to call a ->Construct () Method after the constructor itself. This function will tell you if you successfully created the object. This is one of the things that makes you guess this API is around for much longer than Samsung wants to make us believe. This does not look like a modern C++ API to me.

My shiny new gadget

Finally during the lunch break everyone that won the free Samsung Wave was able to queue for the device at the entrance. So did we. Actually I was first in line and dropped out after they said it would take a bit longer … and then others queued in front of me, damn! After some minutes of waiting I finally held the device in my hands!

The laptop I brought with me was kinda useless. They planned for half an hour of coding and we even had to leave quite early due to our driver. Not a big problem, as it turned out that almost no one worked on an application anyways. At least that’s what I got from some people. The time was way too short to hack on something and I guess, a lot just were at the event for the free phone…

At least we got into some talks with one of the Samsung Developer Advocates, namely Markus Junginger from greenrobot who himself is more known for it’s work on the Android platform. We learned quite some insightful information, for example why there will be no German Local Developer Challenge (i hoped that they would announce one). One thing we definitely can take away from this discussions is that there are a lot of possibilities on bada due to a really small developer base.

Lets sum up the event. Good food and beverages, really good organized and cool location, free Samsung Wave at least for many of us and some new information. Lots of cool people and some good talks. When I compare what I got to what I spent on this event it really payed out well. I even got a device so i could work on some bada stuff.

Finally even more pictures from the event:

What does Bada hold for the future?

Will Samsung get something in reward from me? This is still unsure but I consider taking part in the global developer challenge as I have a cool mobile game that could really attract a lot of gamers on bada. There won’t be many developers taking part and therefore only little competition, and there is only one target device at the moment, so you really can bring your contest entry to glare on it. I will invest some more days trying to figure out how easy my OpenGL ES code can be ported from Java to C++ and then decide, based on how far I get, if I will continue to work on a submission for the contest. I have also a lot of other ideas for the contest but just too little time, it does not make sense for me to start with a whole new project right now.

But how does Bada gets away in general you ask?

The consumer perspective: Well, this really depends. For someone who experienced Android or iOS (or maybe even webOS?) before – Bada might be disappointing. Someone who came from a feature phone or a sub-par “smartphone” might like the Samsung Wave and its Bada system. It has a unique way with a heads on approach on widgets. It basically has a really sharp and great display (remember Super AMOLED? – it’s definitely a step ahead of what I’ve seen on other devices). The multimedia capabilities, namely video recording and playback are plain awesome, I like it a lot.

The developer perspective: From my point of view this is a two-edged blade for developers. Developers who have a large C++ background and like to dive into new experiences will see a platform with almost no competition. Even better: The applications that come with the Samsung Wave preinstalled are really disappointing and therefore there is a lot of room for improvement (with little or no effort even).
But on the other side bada has not many users right now and an uncertain future. Samsung mentioned during the event that they want to go ALL BADA with all its handsets but I doubt this will happen anywhere soon. I even think they will learn how successful Android can be after selling the Galaxy S now.

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed reading this really strange review of the bada developer event mixed in with some other thoughts. As hint for every developer who received the device during this event, go ahead and try to code something for it, maybe it’s a missed opportunity if you just sell it on eBay or give it to someone else.

Disclaimer: bada and the Samsung Wave are copyright by Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd


About atla

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2 Responses to Riding the wave

  1. sarah says:

    I’m the eventmanger of cocoonclub and was responibel fpr the devday…

    I am really happy, that the day was that great for you….

    wonderful feedback I read in the blogs etc…

    looking forward to have something like this again…

    and you will be invited 🙂

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