| | 05-23-2012, 01:10 PM Thread Author #1
3rd Party App Backup Guide
I am often asked how I manage my third party apps, because I so regularly install new OSes on my device. I have also mentioned (and then been asked about) storing third party app installers on my SD card.
So, here is a guide to how I handle my third party apps. I hope it is helpful.
Before I start, let's cover the basics. Apps can be installed to your BlackBerry either via Desktop Manager (Loader, actually), or over the air...OTA. No matter which method you use, the objective is to install code modules - COD files - to your device. If you install via Loader, then Loader needs an ALX file in the same folder as the COD files. If you install OTA, then your device needs a JAD file that points to the correct COD files.
So, to get the terminology out of the way, we're dealing with getting CODs and generating ALXs and JADs.
First, one of the best tools available is OTADownloader. You can download it here.
Once OTA Downloader is installed on your device, you will find a new entry in your browser menu named "Download OTA App". Now, whenever you arrive at an installation page through your browser, select that menu item. OTADownloader will download all the files you need, and place them in a folder named OTADownload on your SD Card. You will then be prompted to install the app. I often grab app files and wait to install them either in a batch or, if I know I'm getting a new version of an app that will require a reboot, I wait until it is convenient for me to install and reboot.
Many developers - including RIM - reform their JAD files to prevent this sort of activity, in large part to prevent piracy. This is a good place to say this: I do not condone pirating third party apps. Period. Developers, me included, devote a lot of time and energy to creating apps and themes, and most are offered at incredibly affordable price points. If you want premium software, BUY IT.
Alright, back to my point...some JAD files won't work in OTADownloader. So your next option is to install the app to your device. Once the app is installed, it's a good idea to create a backup. This is how I do it:
The first thing you'll need is a desktop utility that can read and save files from your BlackBerry. My best advice is to get BBH Tool. It does everything I need for backup, restores, jad creation, system reads....everything.
You can also use BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife (BBSAK) or BlackBerry Master Control Program (BBCMP). Both are excellent tools as well.
To back up your apps:
- Open BBH Tool.
- Connect the device via USB.
- In BBH Tool, go to the Phone Tools tab, click Connect, then click Read under "File System".
- From the list generated in the pane on the right, select which third party app modules you want to back up for a specific app, then click Save under ".COD Files". Alternatively, you can just click Save under "Third Party Apps" to grab ALL of the modules for all you third party apps. I am selective about which ones I save only because I already have backups of all my apps. Here is an example of what you'll see when you do a full Third Party Apps Save in BBH Tool:
My personal practice is to keep all my third party app installers saved in folders on my SD card, so I can remove and reinstall anytime I want. So, we need to create JAD files.
Once you have all the COD files on your PC, you will need to create a JAD file for each app. In my experience, the JAD files created by BBH Tool's "Third Party Save" process are missing an attribute and won't install from my SD card. I'm very picky about, well, everything, so I like creating my own JADs anyway:
- In BBH Tool, go to the Create-A-JAD tab.
- Decide which app you're building a JAD for, fill in the relevant information (App Name, Description, Version, Vendor), pick a name for the JAD file, make sure you select "OTA (.jad)" from the drop down next to the file name, and pick a place to save it.
- Now the last thing you need to do is drag the COD files for a particular app to the pane on the right.
- I usually check my device to make sure I have all the necessary CODs for an app before I create the JAD. I do this by going to Options > Device > Application Management, clicking on the specific app name, and scrolling down to the bottom of that page. That will show you which modules are included in that specific app. Here's an example:
- Once those COD files are included, click that nice big Create It! button. BBH Tool will tell you when the JAD is ready (it's a quick process).
So, now you have the JAD and COD files you need to install the app. One of the handiest things about JAD files is that they can be opened locally too. So, as I mentioned, I keep all my app filesets in folders on my SD card. This is what mine looks like right now:
If I open a file manager and navigate to the JAD file, the app will prompt me to install just like an OTA installation:
....So, that's now I manage my third party apps. I am sure others do things differently, using different utilities, etc. But I wanted to do a full write up so I can just post a link whenever I'm asked.