TweetFollow Us on Twitter

May 00 Bookshelf

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 5
Column Tag: Programmer's Bookshelf

REALbasic: The Definitive Guide

By Paul E. Sevinç, Switzerland

Introduction

REALbasic is an integrated development environment (IDE) from REAL Software, Inc. [3]. In the last couple of months, REALbasic was the topic of several MacTech articles written by Erick Tejkowski [4, 5, 6, 7]. For an overview of REALbasic, please refer to Erick's second article [5] or the REALbasic home page [3].

Written by Matt Neuburg and published by O'Reilly, REALbasic: The Definitive Guide [2] describes the higher edition of REALbasic version 2. But as targeting Windows is not covered, most of the text applies to the standard edition as well. Matt Neuburg is a past editor of MacTech, by the way, but this shall have no influence on my review.

The book is divided into three parts of about 210 pages each: Fundamentals, User Interface, and Reaching Out. Please note that unlike the first two parts, I haven't read the last part in its entirety (i.e., in number of pages, I have read about a third). Note further that I have never dealt with REALbasic prior to reading this book.

Fundamentals

Chapter 1, The Workspace, and chapter 2, The Basic Language, introduce the REALbasic IDE and the REALbasic language, respectively. The explanations of the language constructs might be too terse for novices at programming. For everybody else, however, the concise writing allows for a quick transition to REALbasic without being boring or superficial. What irritated me a little at the beginning is that some names are capitalized differently in the code examples and in the main text. (REALbasic is case insensitive.) And Neuburg's definition of "side effect" is somewhat sloppy. Nevertheless, after two chapters only, I gained the impression that he is a pretty good teacher and writer.

Chapter 3, Objects, Classes, and Instances, and chapter 4, Subclasses, introduce object orientation in the context of REALbasic. These two chapters risk to frustrate novices at object-oriented programming (OOP): while a lot of concepts are explained in a very intuitive manner, non-trivial examples in which OOP unleashes its power are lacking. Beginners must be aware of this. After all, it is only natural that there are trade-offs when a book treats a language, a paradigm, an IDE, and a framework. Alas, Neuburg's treatment of interfaces may leave a wrong impression, namely that they are primarily a means of fixing class relationships or of supporting so-called binding. Yet every experienced Java programmer will confirm that single implementation inheritance with multiple interface inheritance allows for very clean and powerful designs.

Chapter 5, Datatypes, discusses elementary REALbasic data types, such as booleans, strings, and dates, as well as two classes that support low-level memory handling and threading, respectively. In the section on numbers, Neuburg uses the terms "binary", "octal", and "hexadecimal" without explaining them anywhere in the book. This (and what I said about novices in the preceding two paragraphs) leads me to the following question: Who is the target readership of the book in the first place? (On the cover it says "Macintosh programmers at all levels" and in the preface "this book does not teach you to program the Macintosh".) If it includes beginners, some sections of the book need to be elaborated. If not, some sections are not necessary (e.g., on what flow control is).

Chapter 6, Menus, shows how menus and menu items are created, how they can be enabled and disabled, how the application reacts to a menu item being chosen, etc. I particularly liked that it includes a section on dynamic menus with typical examples (Font menu and Windows menu). And chapter 7, The Architecture of an Application, gives some tips concerning REALbasic-based applications. It does not discuss architectural issues in general, however. (See, for instance, Buschmann et al. [1] for more on this topic.)

Chapter 8, Debugging and Building, concludes the first part. It explains how to read compile-error descriptions, REALbasic's exception handling, how to use the debugger, and the application build. After the first three pages in the section on exceptions, I was going to say that Neuburg chose a poor first example to illustrate them. Because it catches an exception caused by an error that can be fixed during development and that does not depend on the time & space in which the final application runs (e.g., on a computer with an unreliable hard drive). However, I then saw that four of REALbasic's five (or six) RuntimeException subclasses are about such errors, so that Neuburg isn't the one to be blamed. Nevertheless, he should have said more than just "Most of the time, you'll probably try to eliminate runtime errors from your program in advance" [2, p. 206].

User Interface

The first ten chapters of the second part cover graphical user interface (GUI) elements, the remaining two discuss the keyboard and the mouse. As is stated in the preface, the Human Interface Guidelines are not a topic of the book. Many different GUI elements are explained, such as windows, tab panels, sliders, etc. In addition to the default classes that REALbasic provides, Neuburg also presents subclasses and helper classes developed by him and others. Furthermore, a few advanced examples are also included. What I liked a lot is that Neuburg warns against bugs or limitations he encountered and tells the reader what to do about them.

To cut a long story short, this part is likely to contain valuable information about the GUI element the reader would like to employ. And in case the GUI element is not available or does not behave as desired, several ways to create a custom GUI element are shown as well.

Reaching Out

Chapter 21, Files, covers many file-related issues: creating and deleting files, navigating the file system, reading and writing the data or resource fork, preferences and temporary files, etc. The concept of file type and file creator is briefly explained, the difference between data fork and resource fork not really. Overall, however, the level of detail and the examples are very good. Particularly cool is that some of the example tasks - copying, for instance - are not only solved with REALbasic classes, but also with AppleScript scripts imported into the REALbasic project.

Chapter 29, Printing, is rather short, which-considering its importance-is a pity. Apparently that's because "Support for printing in REALbasic is rudimentary" [2, p. 555]. So, after a few tips, the reader is left to her own experimentation.

Chapter 31, Apple Events and AppleScript, first briefly introduces Apple events and AppleScript and then discusses Apple events and the REALbasic classes that support them in quite some detail. This chapter teaches how to send and receive events in order to make an application scriptable, and how to execute scripts from within an application.

To give you an idea of what other topics the third part includes, here are the titles of the remaining chapters (that I haven't read): Databases, Clipboard, Drag-and-Drop, Time, Sound, Movies, Game Animation, TCP/IP Communications, and Language Extensions.

Conclusion

Despite some shortcomings, Matt Neuburg's excellent writing and its broad range of topics make REALbasic: The Definitive Guide an easy-to-understand and very useful book for programmers entering the world of REALbasic.

In my opinion, the book is best suited for programmers with experience in OOP. Other programmers should do just fine, too, even though their perception of object orientation will probably be somewhat limited. For a complete novice, however, this book alone is not enough to get started.

What is clearly missing is an example application (e.g., a simple text editor) where different aspects such as menus, windows, files, printing, etc. could have been shown side by side. So feel free to develop such an application and to write about it in MacTech!

References

  1. F. Buschmann, R. Meunier, H. Rohnert, P. Sommerlad, and M. Stal. Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture: A System of Patterns. John Wiley & Sons, Chicester, 1996.
  2. M. Neuburg. REALbasic: The Definitive Guide. O'Reilly, Sebastopol, 1999.
  3. REAL Software. REALbasic. Home Page. Located at <http://www.realbasic.com/>.
  4. E.J. Tejkowski. "REALbasic Plugin Programming". MacTech Magazine, Vol. 15, No. 10, pp. 12-21, October 1999.
  5. E.J. Tejkowski. "REALbasic". MacTech Magazine, Vol. 15, No. 11, pp. 46-57, November 1999.
  6. E.J. Tejkowski. "Speech and REALbasic". MacTech Magazine, Vol. 15, No. 12, pp. 46-49, December 1999.
  7. E.J. Tejkowski. "Networking with REALbasic". MacTech Magazine, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 13-19, February 2000

Paul recently earned a Dipl. El.-Ing. ETH degree, the Master's degree in electrical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ). Now he hopes to finally find the time to finish Aho et al.'s Dragon Book. You can inquire on his progress at paul.sevinc@ubilab.org.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Luminar 1.0.2 - Powerful, adaptive, conf...
Luminar is the new full-featured image editor that adapts to the way you edit photos. Over 300 essential tools to fix, edit, and enhance your photos with comfort. The future of photo editing is here... Read more
WhatRoute 2.0.10 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more
Slack 2.3.3 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.3.3: Fixed window zoom jumping back-and-forth OS X 10.9... Read more
Lens Blur 1.4.3 - True out-of-focus boke...
Lens Blur transforms your existing photo into true SLR-quality out-of-focus bokeh effect! Everyone needs a gorgeous personalized background for a social profile, blog, Web/UI design, presentation, or... Read more
CleanMyMac 3.6.0 - $39.95
CleanMyMac makes space for the things you love. Sporting a range of ingenious new features, CleanMyMac lets you safely and intelligently scan and clean your entire system, delete large, unused files... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 2.9.8 - Knowledge base, i...
DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research papers, your life often fills your hard drive in the... Read more
MacFamilyTree 8.1 - Create and explore y...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: modern, interactive, convenient and fast. Explore your family tree and your family history in a way generations of chroniclers before you would have loved.... Read more
HoudahSpot 4.2.7 - Advanced file-search...
HoudahSpot is a powerful file search tool. Use HoudahSpot to locate hard-to-find files and keep frequently used files within reach. HoudahSpot will immediately feel familiar. It works just the way... Read more
TunnelBear 3.0.7 - Subscription-based pr...
TunnelBear is a subscription-based virtual private network (VPN) service and companion app, enabling you to browse the internet privately and securely. Features Browse privately - Secure your data... Read more
Garmin Express 4.5.0.0 - Manage your Gar...
Garmin Express is your essential tool for managing your Garmin devices. Update maps, golf courses and device software. You can even register your device. Update maps Update software Register your... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Telltale Games really is working on a Gu...
Telltale Games' next episodic adventure is indeed Guardians of the Galaxy. A document tied to the voice actors strike suggested that the project was in the work, but now we have direct confirmation following an announcement at the Game Awards that... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon returns to iOS and Andro...
Amateur Surgeon and its two sequels disappeared from the App Store some time and it was sad days for all. But now, just in time for the holidays, the Adult Swim favorite makes its joyous return in the shape of Amateur Surgeon 4, a remake with... | Read more »
The best board games on mobile
Sometimes you need to ditch all of the high speed, high action games in favor of something a little more traditional. If you don't feel like parting ways from your mobile device, though, there are still plenty of ways to get that old-school fix.... | Read more »
The best Facebook Messenger Instant Game...
Facebook's new Instant Games is now here, meaning you can play games with your friends directly via Facebook. It's a fun new way to connect with friends, of course, but it's also proving to be a solid gaming experience in its own right, with a... | Read more »
You can now play game's on Facebook...
Facebook launched its new Instant Games platform in an exciting new attempt to engage its user base. As a result, you can now play a number of different games directly through Facebook Messenger. All of these games run with HTML5, meaning you play... | Read more »
Apollo Justice Ace Attorney (Games)
Apollo Justice Ace Attorney 1.00.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.00.00 (iTunes) Description: Court Is Back In Session Star as rookie defense attorney, Apollo Justice, as he visits crime scenes,... | Read more »
KORG iWAVESTATION (Music)
KORG iWAVESTATION 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $19.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A revolutionary new world of sound.The Wave Sequence Synthesizer for iPad - KORG iWAVESTATION | Read more »
Don't Grind Guide: Tips for becomin...
Don’t Grind is a surprising, derpy little one touch game with fun hand-drawn graphics. The goal is simple -- get the high score without being chopped to bits. That can be tough when you’re not used to the game, and that’s compounded by the fact... | Read more »
The top 4 Final Fantasy games on mobile
Final Fantasy XV is out today, and to celebrate we’re breaking down the best Final Fantasy games on mobile. Porting a game to mobile is always tricky business, but many of the early Final Fantasy games have made the transition quite well. Let’s... | Read more »
Swap Sword (Games)
Swap Sword 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Parallels Toolbox 1.3 for Mac Offers 25 Singl...
Parallels has launched Parallels Toolbox 1.3 for Mac, an upgrade that adds five new utilities to the stand-alone application which was released in August and is available exclusively online at http... Read more
OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini Ultra-Portabl...
OWC has introduced the new OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini, a powerful yet ultra-portable dual-drive RAID solution. The new Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini packs phenomenal performance into a small... Read more
Clearance 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros availab...
B&H Photo has clearance 2015 13″ Retina Apple MacBook Pros available for up to $200 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
Roundup of 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro sa...
B&H has the non-Touch Bar 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1449 $... Read more
New 13-inch 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro in...
Adorama has the new 13″ 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro (non-Touch Bar, MLL42LL/A) in stock for $1499 including a free 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax... Read more
Finnair Adopts iOS Enterprise iPad Apps from...
Finnair and IBM have announced a first-of-its-kind agreement to utilize iOS enterprise apps from IBM to support the airline’s overall digital transformation. Finnair is focused on Asia-Europe traffic... Read more
Tech21 Launches Evo Go iPhone 7 Case Availabl...
Tech21 has announced the launch of the Evo Go case for Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, exclusively at T-Mobile. Available online and at participating T-Mobile stores nationwide, Evo Go cases start... Read more
Apple Turns (RED) with More Ways to Join the...
In recognition of World AIDS Day, Apple is offering more ways than ever for customers to join (RED) in its mission to create an AIDS-free generation. Apple is the worlds largest corporate contributor... Read more
Deals on new 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros,...
B&H Photo has new 2016 Apple 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro models in stock today with some available for $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more
12-inch Retina MacBooks on sale for up to $10...
12-inch Retina MacBooks remain on sale at B&H Photo with models available for up to $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. B&H will also include a free copy... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
US- *Apple* Store Leader Program - Apple (Un...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on Read more
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Dallas TX Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most Read more
*Apple* &Amp Pc Desktop Support Technici...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Monroe, CT Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions, Fort Wo...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.