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Comparison of Development tools for Windows Apps

Lately I've been mulling over a plans I have for some reasonably simple,  but hopefully useful, windows applications.  Just some small utilities in the range of $0-99.

I'd like to start writing a few of them and test out the market,  however I wouldn't know where to start.  You see, I use Linux at home and do all my development in Python/Gtk2.  At work I use Java on Solaris/Win32.

What I'm after is some kind of guidance about what development environment to use.  Visual Basic? Delphi? .NET? Others? I've ruled out the 'stick with Java' option as the apps don't ever quite look & feel right. 

Does anyone know of a site/article that compares all the features of different development environments & their suitability for small application / shareware development?

Alternatively,  what suggestions do you guys have?

New to Windows
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

depending on the kind of utilities you want to make realbasic www.realbasic.com or winbatch (I forget the url, sorry) are both _very_ useful.
winbatch is more of a scripting thingie, but its pretty powerful.  realbasic is a decent alternative to VB and delilvers a compiled, standalone .exe file.

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

just as well :) we are going to need a few alternatives to the digital restrictions management software MS will be bringing out with palladium...

so now we have apple, Linux and various other *nix alternatives.

its a kind of shame as well though, Ive been very much enjoying the use of XP over the last few weeks Ive been using it a lot....it _is_ a pretty sweet operating system now.

I guess the point is that MS cannot reasonably be expected to retain its place as 'only kid on the block' forever.

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

"winbatch is more of a scripting thingie, but its pretty powerful."

I tried Winbatch once because a coworker recommended it.  I invested a fair amount of time learning about it and then discovered that it could not do the very simple task that I needed it to do.  This was a basic screen-scraper app to interface between a UNIX app running in Exceed by grabbing some data from the cut buffer and pasting it into a dialog box in a COTS dictation app.  I ended up writing a simple Win32 app that did the job and haven't considered using Winbatch for anything since.

Matt Latourette
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

odd..which bit of that couldn't it do?  (and how long ago was it you tried?)

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

These will be GUI applications for home / small business users.  For scripting or automation, I'd probably go with Python on cygwin or Active Pythong.

Any examples of Windows apps written in Real Basic?  Do they look'n'feel 'right'?  Or do they behave like Mac on Windows?

Real Basic looks pretty good.  I assume performance is ok?

New to Windows
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

"Any examples of Windows apps written in Real Basic?  Do they look'n'feel 'right'?  Or do they behave like Mac on Windows?"

its pretty much up to the programmer :)  all the controls etc are native widgets, and you get to choose between a MDI interface on windows or the SDI.

<g> the apps I make in RB prolly tend to feel more like mac apps than windows apps, but thats entirely because of force of habit.

Since RS began distributing the windows IDE we've seen an increasing number of windows programmers on the mailing list, and most seem pretty happy overall.

"Real Basic looks pretty good.  "

im quite a fan, Ive used it for a lot of my x-plat development for the last couple of years.

"I assume performance is ok?"

well..its a compiled basic language, not an interpreted one so its pretty quick.
Definitely slower than c or c++ of course, so standard rules..if you are crunching images or numbers its best to use c, otherwise its fine for most other purposes.

If you _do_ happen to find that performance is an issue in a particular area you have the option of writing a c (or c++) plugin that can be compiled into the application, or alternatively you can use declares etc to call directly into dlls and other shared library formats.

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

If you're familiar with Java then you'd probably be most productive with C#. If you want to create nice, tight EXEs without having to worry about the .NET runtime then use Delphi. That's what I'd use in your position with the rider that I already know the tool.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com_
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Borland gives free versions of Delphi and C#Builder, of which I recommend both. Personally I like Delphi, but I see C# as a valuable investment to future.

Can't beat the price :-)

Antti Kurenniemi
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Antti:

I was just looking for a free download of Delphi so that I could compile a .dll extension for inno setup and your post caught my eye.

I went to the Borland's site and looked for a free download of Delphi, but it seemed that I would need to have some sort of key in order to use what I found there. Could you tell me what I can download from Borland for the compilation that I need?

Thanks!

ICBW
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Best bet - get the Windows version of python (from www.python.org )  and  create windows exe's from python with py2exe ( http://starship.python.net/crew/theller/py2exe/ ). 

A cynic writes
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

It sounds like you've ruled out Python already, but you might want to check out the Boa Constructor IDE on SourceForge (boa-constructor.sourceforge.net). It uses wxPython for the UI.

Zahid
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

ICBW,

You register with Borland and they send you a key to unlock the free version.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com_
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

ICBW,


the Borland website is a bit messy IMO. You need to register, and then get a key, and then go back and all sorts of hassle. I just did a quick look and hey wow! I couldn't find the free download of Delphi 7 anymore! Huh, I have to see something strange is going.

When D7 came out, I was on a modem connection and didn't want to download it, so I went and bought some magazine that had it on a CD.

Antti Kurenniemi
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

"odd..which bit of that couldn't it do?  (and how long ago was it you tried?) "

If I recall correctly, it would let you paste to a specific screen location (which would require that the app always be positioned the same on the screen, which was not a reasonable expectation) or into a named dialog box, but you couldn't just iterate through the child windows of an app and paste into one of them.  It has been 3 or 4 years since I tried to do this though.

Matt Latourette
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Two points:

1) You CAN get a good looking UI with Java with either Swing or SWT (examples, IntelliJ and Eclipse)

2) Given the direction Windows platform is going (managed code, XUL etc.) for non-Java development I'd recommend .NET - C#. This way you can use SharpDevelop - a free IDE with a decent "Design" mode support for easy forms creations - and a proper language that is very similiar to Java.

Cheers,

id

id
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Stick with Python!!

You can re-use your Python code from Linux. And on Windows, there are free utilities to compile Python scripts to a native .EXE that does NOT require your users to install the Python runtime or libraries.

runtime
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

How about J#?

duck
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

"but you couldn't just iterate through the child windows of an app and paste into one of them. "

ah, ok.

" It has been 3 or 4 years since I tried to do this though."

actually Im not sure that particular feature has been added even now...

<g> still not a bad wee scripting utility though, it _does_ have many uses.

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

As has already been mentioned, you could always write in Java, unless the utilities had to:

- start up quickly
- use very little RAM
- be really small to download.

AndrewR
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

...and, with the addition of www.jgoodies.com, Java apps can look just fiiiine.

AndrewR
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

AndrewR,

I just checked jgoodies.com and the snapshots of programs which they have made and I feel that the application look still sucks! Why JAVA people doesnt realise that people do not want to see different style of widgets ( The tabs, scroll bar, the expand/collapse button)!

I really wonder!

JD
http://jdk.phpkid.org

JD
Thursday, November 27, 2003

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