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REALBasic opinions

A couple years ago Joel wrote that REALBasic was tantalizingly close to being the next great development tool.

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000051.html

I tried it a couple years ago and all the Windows apps it generated would GPF. It has improved massively since then. I've been evaluating it for a Windows-based shrinkwrap project. There are currently no plans to sell a Mac version of our app.

I would, however, enjoy developing it on my PowerBook, which is my computer of choice. And I'd like the opportunity to offer a Mac version in the future (if we decide it's worth the support costs).

Have people here used REALBasic lately, and what's been your experience?

Nate Silva
Saturday, July 19, 2003

Hi Nate,

I use it an increasingly large amount, working on a mac and compiling for macintosh and windows.

<g> what do you need to know?

FullNameRequired
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Is there a Windows version of RB, or do we need to run the compiler on a Mac?

Frederic Faure
Sunday, July 20, 2003

There is a windows version that has come out just recently.  I actually do not know much about how good it is as I have never used it.

I believe it _also_ compiles for both mac and windows, so you can target both platforms from either platform.

This also makes debugging on windows a lot easier, since it first came out debugging for windows has required compiling and running on the windows side, using the veritable msgbox or write to file type debugging approaches.

So I am expecting to make heavy use of the windows IDE for debugging purposes once I get around to upgrading to the latest & greatest.

There has also been a converter app for a while that converts VB code across to RB code I believe, <g> once again I dont really know how good it is as I have never used it myself.

FullNameRequired
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Frederic, there are Windows and Mac IDEs and they are functionally identical, as far as I can tell. Both can generate applications for both platforms, but the IDE must be purchased separately for each platform.

FullNameRequired, I guess I'm just looking for peoples' overall experience. Is it something people actually use? Does it scale to medium- or large-size projects? Have you found any serious limitations, for example, OS features that aren't supported? I probably could throw out a very long list of questions!

Nate Silva
Sunday, July 20, 2003

"Is it something people actually use?"

as I said, Im using it for an increasing range of projects.
Initially (at around rb version 2.1) I started using it for some pretty basic inhouse utilities for some of my clients, this worked pretty well and gave me some confidence in it.
Currently Im using it on 2 medium size projects, both business/database type applications and assorted smaller projects.

Overall it works pretty well.  Its not as polished as its immediate competitor, VB, but given the age difference between the two this is not a big surprise :)

The latest version of RB is 5.2, this is the first release after a major rewrite of the compiler and to be frank it shows, Im currently still using 4.5.3.
I fully expect 5.5 to be a better release all around and I have decided to wait until then before upgrading again (up until now Ive upgraded for every new release and always found it well worthwhile.)

It has plugins for most of the major databases around, I use valentina and mysql depending on my needs but there are many other database plugins that come with RB and also some 3rd party ones available.

"Does it scale to medium- or large-size projects?"

broadly speaking yes, Ive been very impressed with how well and reliably the compiled apps work.
Its ideal for applications that will have a pretty standard look for each platform. 
One bigger project I have done has required some pretty complex custom gui stuff and I ran into frustrations there, just with getting the look exactly as I wanted it.
OTOH any application that requires a standard windows application look, or a standard macintosh application look is pretty easy to do gui-wise.

"Have you found any serious limitations, for example, OS features that aren't supported?"
depends on your definition of serious :)

Where RB fails to provide access to the OS features you have two possible methods of attaining access.  Declares or plugins, plugins are written in c or c++ and can be called from the rb application, effectively they add the features you need.
Overall RB has given me access to most (say 95%)of what Ive needed, and where it has occasionally fallen down Ive been able to write my own c++ code to make up the gaps.


Are you able to give me an idea of exactly what you are intending/hoping to do with it? 

FullNameRequired
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Maybe slightly off-topic, but I just want to point out RB is an example of where developing an application for the Mac first is a good business strategy.  If they would have developed the Windows version first, the reaction would have been "Why shouldn't I just use VB instead of an immature VB clone?"

Instead, they appealed to the Mac user's sense of "Here's something like VB but of course superior, as befitting the Mac".  They established themselves in a wide open market and continued to improve the product until they've gotten to the point where developers are asking "maybe I should use RB for my Windows-only app".

Another example of this is Bungie.  They took over the serious Mac-only game market and honed their craft until they were established enough to realize their life-long dream of being bought by MicroSoft :).

Jim Rankin
Monday, July 21, 2003

Just visit PerversionTracker.com for great examples of what you too can achieve with REALBasic!

Fred2000
Monday, July 21, 2003

"Just visit PerversionTracker.com for great examples of what you too can achieve with REALBasic!"

:)  there are some _really_ good examples there.

out of interest REALsoftware have announced today that version 5.5 (coming out first part of next year) will be able to compile for linux as well...

FullNameRequired
Monday, July 21, 2003

FullNameRequired, my current project is a label-printing program. I've been studying REALbasic over the weekend and while it's really nice, I don't have the time to do a full evaluation (esp. the printing functions). We are going with what we know -- which is C#, with its associated 24 MB runtime. Delphi was another possibility that was dismissed early on for I-can't-remember-what-reason.

I'll definitely consider it for future projects. I wish I'd seen REALbasic sooner.

Nate Silva
Monday, July 21, 2003

Hi Nate,

"FullNameRequired, my current project is a label-printing program."

ah, this would very likely fit perfectly into the RB mold, it has a specific objective and standard application appearance..
RB 4.5.3 has some problems with printing on certain printers on the windows platform, I believe that RB 5.2 fixes all of these so would verra likely have worked well for you.

"We are going with what we know -- which is C#, with its associated 24 MB runtime."

:) going with what you know is almost never a bad idea.

"I'll definitely consider it for future projects. I wish I'd seen REALbasic sooner."

its well worth considering.  Ive found Im using it more and more as my confidence in it increases.

FullNameRequired
Monday, July 21, 2003

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