Lahrs Apps: Developing Mom-Recommended Mobile Apps with BlackBerry WebWorks

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(Originally posted on the Inside BlackBerry Developer’s Blog)

BlackBerry DEVCON Americas Speaker

And, if you’re attending BlackBerry DEVCON Americas, be sure to check out the following session on Wednesday October 19th:

Tips and Tricks for Balancing Life and App Development from a Working Mother
Think application development is too time consuming? Come hear how a working mother with one-year-old twins used the time-saving features of the BlackBerry® WebWorks™ Platform.
Kathryn Lahrs with Self Employed

Register for BlackBerry DEVCON Americas today and don’t miss it!


To carve out a presence in the mobile app world, Kathryn Lahrs needs the mobile app development process to be simple and fun. As a part-time developer, Kathryn has harnessed the BlackBerry® WebWorks™ platform to create several successful applications, from the nostalgic game Mash to the family-friendly Santa Tracker. Her current challenge takes advantage of a huge opportunity: full integration with the new BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™) 6.0 platform. Between her job and her one-and-a-half year old twin daughters, Kathryn works to find time to develop apps.

Kathryn tells us about using the BlackBerry WebWorks platform, working with Research In Motion® (RIM®) and what exciting BBM™ 6.0 apps are coming in the near future.

Let’s talk about the apps you’ve been developing for BBM 6.0. How are they integrated with native applications?

The first app is PowWow, a social gathering app. You’ll be able to connect to any of your contacts, invite them to events and track their RSVP status – and the event details go straight into the calendar on your BlackBerry smartphone. The basic version will be free, and in the paid version you’ll be able to check your friend’s calendar for their availability – you’ll even be able to check their current GPS location if you’re lost or waiting for them. One of the best features is that it is all running in the background on BBM – you don’t even need to have the app open. The other app will also be plugged into BBM, but based on study groups. Doing these apps has been almost addictive. It’s been a great deal of fun to build them from scratch.

Tell me about the response that the Santa Tracker application received.

The Santa Tracker app was a fun Christmastime app that received a lot of attention. It sold more than 3,000 copies at $1.99 per download. The response was wonderful and families really enjoyed being able to use an app with their kids. When RIM found out about the app, they helped give it an extra push.

Why has the BlackBerry WebWorks platform been so useful for you?

I’m comfortable with environments like HTML, JavaScript®, and Visual Studio, so BlackBerry WebWorks was really simple to get into. After a quick learning curve, it’s pretty easy to see how everything functions and how data is passed and what I need to look for in apps. It also gives you options when working with Java code, so you’re not limited. And I really like the way the web apps look and feel. I think BlackBerry WebWorks is going to take apps to the next level. I’m a mother of twins and developing part time and it still only took me three weeks to develop Mash.

How has your relationship with the RIM team helped your app development?

RIM has been really helpful in a couple of ways. RIM feels like a family environment where everybody truly wants you to do well. I started with the BlackBerry WebWorks environment in its infancy and connected right away with RIM over email. They introduced me to a broad network of people within the company and they were all really supportive. I just didn’t see that hands-on, help-me-in-any-way-possible atmosphere anywhere else. The forums are the same way – BlackBerry developers genuinely want to help each other. Any time I’ve come up against a problem, I put it out there to other developers and typically I receive a great response.

Be sure to check out Lahrs Apps for the latest and greatest apps from Kathryn!

About Ian M.

As Manager for Developer Programs at Research In Motion (RIM), Ian and his team are responsible for the design and delivery of programs and services for BlackBerry developers – including support tools and resources, recognition, advocacy, go-to-market, and regional programs. Ian is passionate about making sure that BlackBerry developers have everything they need in order to be successful from the inception of an idea to app deployment or commercialization. Prior to joining Developer Relations, Ian was a Product Manager for various BlackBerry solutions including the BlackBerry Java Development Environment, BlackBerry Maps, and BlackBerry Mobile Voice System.

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