RIM: did you just tell me to Google 'you do not have write permission'?

July 28, 2011 at 11:41 AM | Uncategorized | View Comments

Background: I have been trying to develop for the PlayBook, and I have run into silly, time-consuming problems at every step. I have sent some of these errors to @BlackBerryDev, and have received generally unhelpful responses (for example, see my message, RIM's reply, my reply, RIM's second reply)... But the message I received today deserves a response longer than 140 characters.

My initial message was:

@BlackBerryDev eg, BS unhelpful errors like this: http://twitpic.com/5u4sco

https://twitter.com/wolever/status/94496389471539200

And @BlackBerryDev replied with:

@wolever This error is a common mac permissions error, not specific to our tooling. Check [http://www.google.ca/search?q=%22You+do+not+have+write+permissions...] for examples ^SA

http://twitter.com/BlackBerryDev/status/96594875293761537

And this is my reply to the above:

As you have apparently never debugged a permission error before, ^SA, so let me tell you how it works.

When sensible software can't write to a file or directory, it includes a full path to the file or directory in the error message. Using this information, it is possible to example the file or directory in question and determine the correct course of actions (for example, changing the permissions).

However, the shitty InstallAnywhere software used by the PlayBook SDK is, unsurprisingly, not sensible. So when it encounters a permission error, its error message does not include any such information. In fact, the only hint about the install directory I'm given is that it's:

Inside "Research in Motion" on the folder "SDKs" on the disk "Enoch".

Which makes the permission error impossible to debug without something like an install log.

But I don't know where the install log is (if it exists), and frankly I don't care.

What I do care about, though, is that you have sent me a link to a Google search (without even using lmgtfy!) that you clearly haven't looked at (because if you had, you would see that 1/3 of the results are Linux-specific, 1/3 of the results are the file which defines the error message, and 1/3 of the results are mirrors of the same message, which suggests a simple “fix permissions” (which, by the way, would not, and did not, fix the problem).

So, @BlackBerryDev: if your future messages will piss me off and insult me in the same way that these messages have, I would rather you simply didn't respond to me at all.

And, while I'm standing on my little soap box here, I'd like to send RIM a small message too:

RIM,

It seems obvious to me that the only way you will be able to get on top is developers... But, at the moment, your development experience is terrible. Just ask anyone who has tried to develop for the PlayBook.

Fortunately I also know that you have the skill in-house to improve on this. You know those TinyHippos guys you recently acquired? They know what they're doing. Listen to them. If they suggest crazy things like sending both signing keys in one email (instead of two identical emails), do it. If they suggest getting in bed with Adobe and VMware so PlayBook developers can start developing without spending hours creating accounts and downloading demos, do it. Do whatever it takes to make development easy and painless.

Want some other starting points? Here's what I've complained about on Twitter (static mirror). Put more people behind @BlackBerryDev so they can reply quickly and helpfully. Make it possible to get developer signing keys instantly. Etc...

I would really like to develop for the PlayBook. I really would. But as it stands, I've spent three hours dealing with the kind of crap I've documented above for every hour I've spent writing code. And that's just no fun.

—David