An update on the early access program and the SDK.

84 BY devrel

With the Pre now in customers’ hands and reports of webOS hacks in the news, we know that you are more anxious than ever to get access to the SDK and start developing for webOS.

We’ve been working very hard on the SDK and are eager to open access on a wider scale, but the software and the developer services to support it just aren’t ready yet.

Our goal is to make the SDK available to everyone by the end of this summer, and to get there in stages:

  • Beginning immediately, we’ll accelerate the growth of the early access program, expanding as quickly as resources allow. Over the next few weeks, the program will grow from hundreds to thousands of developers.
  • Simultaneously, we’ll begin publishing more content outside the early access program, and we’ll launch new confidentiality rules that will allow early Mojo developers to communicate more freely with the rest of the world.
  • As soon as we can, we’ll open the SDK to all legitimate requests.

Until you have the SDK, we encourage you to explore other public webOS resources, including the Rough Cuts edition of Mitch Allen’s upcoming book and the sites run by our great community of enthusiasts.

We’ve also begun getting questions about Palm’s stance toward the webOS development “experiments” that have emerged outside the early access program over the last week. We’re focused on building a robust and easy-to-use Mojo SDK, and an ecosystem that benefits developers, end users, carriers and Palm alike. As on any popular platform, we recognize that some developers will experiment in ways that cross official boundaries, but we believe that our formal offerings – and community efforts built around those offerings – will provide the best experience for the vast majority of webOS developers and users.

Thanks again for your enthusiasm and support as we roll webOS out to the world!

Comments (84)

  1. Palm Pre Blog says:

    Palm Pre release could have been more successful if you all were concerned enough to know the importance of apps. But I think you are not and happy with the things are going on.

  2. steamedJobs says:

    Well, at least this is an answer to one question: “Palm, can you give us an actual time estimate?” It’s not really the answer most developers were hoping to hear, but kudos to you, Palm, for giving up the straight dope!

    Now here is the next question burning its way through my troubled mind: how true is it when you say that ‘we’, as anxious developers tap tap tapping away at our keyboards, need not send more than one application? Can one be confident that their application, sent lo those many weeks back… is still resting somewhere deep in your pile of accusations, pleas, complaints, and condemnation? Or, should I prepare an all new application full of these things?

    Please advise.

    Yours truly;
    steamed jobs

  3. Jim says:

    I should probably add to my earlier comment that I, for one, am sticking with the Leap of faith .. as it’s been described.

    Writing native iPhone apps of any complexity frankly sucks .. and I completely support Palm’s move to standardized languages and open source support. It’s the right move for the industry and could have far more impact than the iPhone platform did.

    For business, it’s sort of like “iFun” versus “Pre-paredness”. I have both … the Pre simply .. works … Better! Synergy, tho not perfect, is fantastic.

    Ironically, it’s the fact that the Pre CAN do so much that makes the wait for the SDK harder to take ….

  4. Gary Morris says:

    There is an old saying that is very apt….”Better a good plan today, than a perfect plan too late.”

    Maybe Palm is working on the “good plan” rather than the “Perfect Plan?”

    I also am anxious for the SDK, but hope that it is not too late. I know they are doing their best.

  5. Jon says:

    I have the pre…but I want Apps!!!! I waited for a year to upgrade my phone so I could get the Pre. Now I’m bummed about the lack of apps. Why do you wanna bum your customer out man? :(

  6. END OF SUMMER – Late August 2009 ? 2 or 3 months from now !?

    Since most of us heard about the PRE SDK from the CES announcement in early January of 2009 it’ll be more like 8 or 9 months from announcement to (promised) SDK release.

    I hope the PRE is successful, as this is greater than the entire life-span of some cell phones.

  7. Bob Walder says:

    “END OF SUMMER!? Am I the only one apauled at this?? – Comment by Jeremy — June 19, 2009 @ 10:23 am”

    Probably – the rest of us are appalled

  8. Augustus says:

    Having recently developed one App for Apple, I would make three suggestions.

    1. Treat developers well. I spend four months developing a finance application for Apple (which is highly competitive with the best Finance Apps out there) and yet the review team keeps shoving around (a month now) because some info was wrong in my marketing description. They give preferential treatment to top 100 apps and treat all apps the same if they are 0.99 cent or $9.99. This is retarded. I am disgusted with Apple.
    2. Do not drive the price of an App down the way Apple. Flooding the App Catalog with free and $0.99 cent apps will make it really hard for customers to find good apps. If you still need free and 0.99 cent apps keep it separate.
    3. If Palm wants to beat Apple, you should consider a strategy such as Microsoft. License the software to other hardware vendors such as Nokia, Motorola and so on. Palm, does make the best OS on a mobile, I have seen, you need to leverage and get out of the hardware game. Its a commodity business.

    Regards and All the best.

    Augustus

  9. dave says:

    at least release a modified emulator for webmasters to do content site testing so that the thousands of webapps released for iphone/ipod touch (apple.com/webapps) can be modified to work on the pre screen and underlying webkit engine…duh..

  10. Mike Cane says:

    And if Palm “leaks” the SDK and people start posting apps outside the App Catalog, and these apps disable a Pre or delete data or act otherwise maliciously, who’s going to blame the developer? No one! PALM will be blamed.

  11. Joel Fiser says:

    What about Flash?
    There’s a million Flashers waiting to start creating apps for this splendid phone. When will someone let us in? Give us a hook into the Pre and we’ll make the world forget about the iPhone.
    Am I missing something? This seems like a no-brainer to me. A more useful phone means more customers buying the phone. Thousands of professional Flashers do this stuff for a living. No other development community comes close when it comes to creating creative, gorgeous and highly functional Uers Interfaces.

  12. Scott S says:

    As someone who is sitting on the sidelines right now (Canadian) watching what is unfolding in the U.S. it’s a slightly disappointing to see how long it’s taking to actually get new apps released. I’m not a developer but many out there (and here) have expressed that they want to see an unsupported release rather than no release at all. The iPhone’s huge app catalog is the single largest draw for consumers (myself included) and Palm needs to show that they are going to be able to keep up and compete with the other guys.

    And as Jeff said, maybe someone might make a mistake and accidentally release the SDK.

  13. MikeBruce says:

    I am not a developer but I do understand this.
    -This phone has something to it. There is more freedom with this phone than apple.
    -Please make high quality apps. I DO NOT CARE how many apps. I care about Usful and quality apps. I am willing to pay for that.
    -There will be NOTHING worse then trying to use an app catalog that is loaded with crap apps. Just like ebay is loaded with crap auctions.
    -Lets go quality folks.
    -If palm is taking this long to release the SDK. You better have the BEST app catalog possible with user reviews and all. You better have a way of seperating quality with some little new programers test apps.

  14. Jim says:

    Seeing that there are quite a few non-developer users here, I wonder if you’d be interested in saying WHAT apps you’re looking for? It’s amazing that in only 1-2 years the expectations of the consumer market for smartphones has gone so quickly from smart PHONE … to phone-capable APPS platform.

    Since the SDK is in-process .. and since the SDK can determine to some extent what kind of apps are possible … maybe this is a GREAT time for both Palm and Pre-hopeful developers to hear from users following the subject WHAT apps they want??

    Just a thought…

  15. Billy Watson says:

    I owned the Pre for 13 days. I returned it after I read this blog. My iPhone contract was about to expire at which time I was switching to the Pre. I was hoping the Pre would have the same support of developer as the iPhone but with the news of this delay, I’ll stick with my iPhone for now. I enjoyed my time with the Pre and hope to get another one when supports pick up. Let’s go Palm. I want my Pre back!

  16. Phil Gross says:

    I have to agree with the folks who think Palm is making a strategic mistake here. Palm should immediately release whatever they have in the way of an SDK with the caveats that a) it’s alpha quality, with little documentation, bugs, semi-functional emulator, whatever b) the underlying OS is likely to change further, possibly breaking apps when it does c) no support, no submission to app store until end of the summer or by invitation.

    I, and many others, would be fine with this. We understand that it’s a brand new platform, and your priority is on a stable OS. However, for those making purchasing decisions, having literally 10,000 times fewer apps available than for the iPhone will sway most purchasers, especially with the 3G now half the price of a Pre.

    If you just push the SDK out the door with the above caveats, whenever you do get around to fixing your “manual processes”, there would be a large stable of high-quality apps ready to go.

    It occurs to me that Palm’s delay may be somewhat deliberate. It’s possible that the initial production run has already sold out, and they won’t be ramping up until later in the year, so they don’t really care about app availability for “early adopters.” That would still make the decision not to release the SDK now foolishly shortsighted. Developer expertise takes a while to develop, and having some cool apps that aren’t available on the iPhone would be a marketing boon.

  17. nhavar says:

    Think about it this way. If Palm releases the SDK in alpha/beta here’s what could happen.

    1. Professional developers hop on and develop apps that can’t be deployed and can’t be sold because the infrastructure is not in place. They’ll develop apps quickly but sit around frustrated because they can’t deploy and can’t monetize their work for months. Or sit around for months only to find out that they have to completely redesign their app when the full SDK is released.

    2. Amateur developers will flood the support channels with inane questions despite any disclaimer about support placed on the SDK.

    3. Unethical hackers will start looking for holes left in incomplete code that will allow remote access to the phone data. Exploits will be published and cause further bad press.

    4. Inquisitive users will install hacked together code risking bricking or otherwise breaking the phone, causing unintended side effects and flooding support channels with issues that Palm doesn’t have the infrastructure to support. Despite repeated efforts by Palm to tell users that they aren’t responsible for 3rd party software they’ll get hate mail, angry phone calls, lawsuits, and poor reviews.

    5. Partners who signed NDAs and probably paid a premium to be early adopters start wondering what they are paying for, since everyone else is getting what they got but without having to do much of anything.

    6. Technically minded sites start pouring over the code and complaining about it’s unfinished state, lack of documentation, lack of functionality, potentially unprofessional comments in the code, and inevitably compare it with the “awesomeness” that is the iPhone SDK or Android.

    Each of those situations is a legal and marketing nightmare and brings with it unplanned costs to Palm at a time when they need to pinch every penny to make sure the Pre is successful. There are so many things that can go wrong with releasing an unfinished SDK versus releasing it when it’s baked. The risks just aren’t worth the rewards.

    Professionals will grouse a little but wait the two months and then start knocking out apps quickly once the infrastructure is complete. Some smaller shops and amateurs will grouse significantly more, decry the death of palm and whine about how they are being abused because they’re not being provided with what they are entitled to. Users will mostly wait impatiently and a few loud obnoxious and vocal people will troll the message boards looking for reasons to slight Palm and playing armchair CEO.

    Be patient. Be polite. Be ready.

  18. Stephen says:

    The iPhone SDK/appstore lagged the initial release. Remember when iPhone “native-looking” webapps were all the rage because you couldn’t actually do anything native?

    Apple got away with it. I won’t hold Palm to a double standard.

    And as much as you as an individual developer wants the Pre SDK, you can bet that Palm and its shareholders wants you to have it even more, so they can truly compete with the iPhone. They’re not dumb. They’ll get it out as soon as they can.

    (Btw, I liked the comment about becoming Microsoft and licensing the webOS to other hardware vendors. That makes a lot of sense.)

  19. Ben Jackson says:

    I too am chomping at the bit to make apps for the pre, and, like many of the other developers here, am worried that I will be far behind the curve when the app store is released because I was not one of the lucky few to gain access to the early access program.

    I also feel tempted to submit more applications to the program. Again, like others have noted, how can I be sure that my application is still being considered? Can palm send out an e-mail to those who are not selected for the next expansion of the program, so that we at least know we are under consideration still?

    I’d love to write apps for my pre, mostly because they are apps I actually want to use.

  20. Steamed Jobs says:

    I see a lot of people here talking about how Apple did not have an SDK when they released the iPhone. That’s true, they had no native SDK. But they DID have a web app SDK that was available, and well documented. Palm doesn’t even have that, and WebOS apps are glorified web apps. Palm is horrendous about developer relations, and this is just another example of that. They announce that they are dramatically increasing the number of developers in the early program, but guess what? I don’t know ANYONE who has been accepted. NOT ONE. My own emails have gone completely unanswered; they might as well be being delivered into a black hole, and for all I know, they ARE. Look around. How many of the developers posting here have been ‘admitted’ into the program. I haven’t seen a comment from anyone yet. So, where is this dramatic increase? Is it just one more episode of hot air being blown past some flapping lips at Palm? From my perspective, it sure seems like it. Or is the sin of having spoken negatively here enough to get one banned from the early program? That seems plausible at this point. In fact, aliens having abducted key Palm staff and replaced them with malfunctioning androids seems equally plausible to about ANYTHING Palm or anyone else has said, because there IS NO FOLLOW-THROUGH and NO STATUS for whatever feeble attempts at communication we make. Hey, how hard is it, really, to write a freaking PHP email responder to at least let us dumbkoffs know our email actually got through to someone? How about an automated ‘your email got read’ notice? This is not rocket science! What the heck, we are supposed to think that WebOS is so snazzy and they guys making it can’t even build a freaking web site that generates a ‘gee we got your stinkin’ email’ response? That sure inspires a load of confidence! This whole thing seems like it is being run and orchestrated by Larry, Darryl, and his other brother Darryl.

    Some guy on here talked about professional developers. You know, professional developers want to make some money. Professional developers don’t sit around in their mamma’s basement calmly waiting for Palm to yank various parts of anatomy out of various other parts of anatomy, they go develop apps for other platforms where the company running the show seems to have a clue with the OS (iPhone, Android, WinMobile, RIM) – who the heck needs or wants to sit around all calm and zen like while Palm takes aim with the guns a blazin at both feet? It’s painful to watch. PAINFUL.

    I had some hopes for Palm and the Pre. I thought ‘gee, competition, its a good thing.’ This is not competition, this is a joke – a disaster. iPhone 3GS has already sold well over a million units, while Pre sold what, 100K? 150? That could be generous. Apple stores are still selling out of 5 DAYS after launch.

    Every day that Palm delays getting this thing off the ground is one more day that the darn thing sputters around the concrete of the launch pad busting itself all up. And, I am sooooo thoroughly peeved about the complete lack of respect we are collectively getting from Palm that I’m not sure I even WANT to provide software for their platform anymore. Seriously, this is being handled worse than a bunch of those bozos on an episode of Donny Trump’s show, and with almost as much drama. I’m not really sure it could get much worse.

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  22. Anthony says:

    Yup, signed up for the SDK (you can check my email in the palm database), and still waiting. I understand that Palm really has to shine with developers to make it a worthwile iPhone killer… I would hope they would release what ‘works’ and leave out what doesn’t work to get our feet wet.

  23. Joe says:

    How can I use the TAB button on keyboard, PALM PRE? There are some website that the touch screen does not work on PASSWORD BOX.

  24. Phil Gross says:

    @nhavar, I don’t know your arguments are the same as ones being made inside Palm, but they vary from non-issues to the completely impossible.

    > 1. Professional developers hop on and develop apps that can’t be deployed and can’t be sold because the infrastructure is not in place. They’ll develop apps quickly but sit around frustrated because they can’t deploy and can’t monetize their work for months. Or sit around for months only to find out that they have to completely redesign their app when the full SDK is released.

    You’re arguing that we don’t actually want what we’re all saying we want. You are wrong. We do want access now, even with caveats. Waiting a few months would be a lot easier if we could at least look at the documentation and some sample code while we’re waiting.

    > 2. Amateur developers will flood the support channels with inane questions despite any disclaimer about support placed on the SDK.

    I have no idea what you’re even thinking of with this one. How would anyone flood closed support channels? If we had magical access to the restricted areas of the Palm development site, we’d already have the SDK.

    > 3. Unethical hackers will start looking for holes left in incomplete code that will allow remote access to the phone data. Exploits will be published and cause further bad press.

    The full root image of the Pre has already leaked, if you hadn’t noticed, and interested hackers are already going at it. Not sure what this has to do with an early SDK release, or what you’re referring to with “further bad press”. Most of the stories I’ve seen online about the ROM hacking have been positive, and most of the negative press has been about this very blog entry we’re complaining about.

    > 4. Inquisitive users will install hacked together code risking bricking or otherwise breaking the phone, causing unintended side effects and flooding support channels with issues that Palm doesn’t have the infrastructure to support. Despite repeated efforts by Palm to tell users that they aren’t responsible for 3rd party software they’ll get hate mail, angry phone calls, lawsuits, and poor reviews.

    The Pre only runs signed code. No one will be “flooding support lines” unless they’ve already hacked their ROM. The only way to get apps onto user devices is through the app store.

    > 5. Partners who signed NDAs and probably paid a premium to be early adopters start wondering what they are paying for, since everyone else is getting what they got but without having to do much of anything.

    Aside from actual access to the App Store, they would have support from Palm.

    > 6. Technically minded sites start pouring over the code and complaining about it’s unfinished state, lack of documentation, lack of functionality, potentially unprofessional comments in the code, and inevitably compare it with the “awesomeness” that is the iPhone SDK or Android.

    Or not. Most of the buzz I’ve seen suggests that WebOS is much easier to program than Android apps, and much, much easier than iPhone apps. If it’s that ugly, the truth will come out eventually anyway, but I’m guessing it’s not.

    Note that I’m not suggesting that they just dump the SDK on a public FTP server. They can still limit it to developer applicants and still require an NDA.

    > Each of those situations is a legal and marketing nightmare and brings with it unplanned costs to Palm at a time when they need to pinch every penny to make sure the Pre is successful. There are so many things that can go wrong with releasing an unfinished SDK versus releasing it when it’s baked. The risks just aren’t worth the rewards.

    I hope Palm is not as paralyzingly risk-averse as you describe, and their reasons for continuing to withhold the SDK are far sounder than those you put forward, but I fear not on both counts.

    > Professionals will grouse a little but wait the two months and then start knocking out apps quickly once the infrastructure is complete. Some smaller shops and amateurs will grouse significantly more, decry the death of palm and whine about how they are being abused because they’re not being provided with what they are entitled to. Users will mostly wait impatiently and a few loud obnoxious and vocal people will troll the message boards looking for reasons to slight Palm and playing armchair CEO.

    So “professionals” want to twiddle their thumbs for two months while trying to ignore sales of 1m units in a week for the new iPhone, vs. “amateur” “obnoxious” “troll” “armchair CEO”s, who are trying to point out to Palm that this seems to be a terrible decision from both a technical and a business perspective?

    The SmartPhone market is nothing like it was when the iPhone was released. Both Apple and RIM have gigantic installed bases and stuffed app stores, and it will be extremely difficult for another player to break in. I very much want Palm to succeed, but they will need all the help they can get. A good start would be to give those who want to develop for the platform a basic SDK.

  25. Tom says:

    Calm down people. Its a matter of 2-3 MONTHS(60-90 days). By the time you end up writing a a few hundred or thousand posts on forums complaining about this, it will be out. Its summertime people. Take yourself out to some nice place where you don’t get any cellular coverage and do some hiking, boating, fishing, climbing, swimming, or some type or exercise. When you are finally done enjoying yourself, hopefully the SDK release will be around the corner and you will have all fall and winter to make as many worthwhile and worthless apps as you would like.

  26. Roger Stringer says:

    Good news from Chuq.

    To me the missing answer is the one to the question “when we can put non-free apps into the App Catalog?”

  27. Michael Williamson says:

    I am a phone blogger and I know many people who are in the cell phone business. I live nothing but cell phones. I know Palm really does need to get their act together and they know I am right saying that since release date that at least 10% of Sprint’s new customers returned their Pre and got out of their contract. The Pre is not 30 days old yet and I know if I do not see something before the 6th of July, I will go back to AT&T and get the iPhone 3GS and cancel out my palmprehelp twitter account and youtube account also. I do believe they should allow developers to put apps in now and charge for it that way they are inspired to develop apps….palmprehelp@gmail.com soon to be iPhone3gshelp@gmail.com

  28. There’s something to be said for a controlled roll-out. It does build a lot of anticipation, and it’s likely that there’ll be a net larger pool of developers waiting for the SDK to come out compared to if Palm had just thrown the SDK out as a Beta. Here’s to more quality apps on the catalog.

  29. Olivia D. says:

    I am a sprint customer who thought about leaving sprint for another provider because of the poor selection of phones sprint offers. For me, it matters that I am getting a quality phone with quality service that can do what other providers offer. After researching all the major providers, I found that AT&T SUCKS with their coverage and t-mobile is slow as hell when in comes to web surfing. Verizon is alright, but their phones are super cheap and fall apart. Sprint has the worst phone selection, but the best coverage (at least for me cause I NEVER have dropeed calls). After playing with the Pre, the iphone, the G1, and the Storm, I found that the Pre kicks ass compared to the other major competetors. I agree that palm needs to make their apps catalog kick ass, but I think it will be worth the wait. If it’s not, it’s just a phone. I can always get another one. Make a phone that is great quality with good service and people will buy. Remember, if you build it, they will come…