TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Notes from the REALWorld Conference

Volume Number: 20 (2004)
Issue Number: 4
Column Tag: Programming

REALBasic Chat

by Guyren G Howe

Notes from the REALWorld Conference

REAL Software's first conference revealed exciting new directions

I just finished attending REAL World, REAL Software's first annual conference.

It was satisfying to meet with REALbasic developers from all over the world, and the official statements and product previews at the conference gave me confidence in the future of one of my favorite development platforms. Herewith, a grab-bag of observations from the conference.

Version 6 Early Preview

There were two particularly exciting revelations at REAL World. The first was an early look at Version 6.

Wow. What an improvement. An integrated IDE is among the greatest of user interface design challenges, because a computer program is a very complex structure, and the IDE needs to support the programmer in manipulating this structure in many different ways.

On top of this, REALbasic faces the challenge of working on different platforms with different user interface conventions. Worse, one of these is Windows, where the interface conventions are just broken.

While what we were shown is an early draft, it was quite clear what direction REAL is taking us. The new interface is a sort-of cross between Safari and iTunes. The default is an aggressively tabbed interface, starting from a Home tab akin to the current Project window. Everything you open comes up in a new tab by default, although you can opt for a new window, if you wish. REAL said they would like to give us options that would in sum turn this interface back into what we have now, if you didn't like the new style, but I thought it was great.

There were niceties everywhere, even in this early preview. The Project tab could be switched to an Icon view that doubled as a class browser (hooray!). The Window Editor provided a pasteboard area (akin to PageMaker), to which things could be shuffled while working on a window, and where non-control items could be placed, so they no longer clutter up the actual window. The code editor provided little bracket lines just outside the text, to show you where each block begins and ends, and you can click on the line to select the block. There were keyboard shortcuts to enter the End If when you typed an If. And on and on and on. It was amazing how complete even this preview seemed.

The new interface, in being much more like OS X or web browsers than the OS 9 Finder style we've seen so far is much more portable across platforms, because a browser-type interface has become universal.

It was further revealed that the IDE for Version 6 was being developed with REALbasic. This is wonderful news. This means that REAL software are testing their own product pretty seriously in writing it. It makes the programmers more productive, which is why I think we're seeing such rich capabilities in the new IDE. And it gives the programmers an extra incentive to add the kind of language features that will make such a product easier to write (robust introspection and a better object model spring to mind).

There were no substantial revelations about language features for Version 6, but since REAL Software has a full-time compiler guy, who seems very smart, and very interested in improving the language, and has essentially finished implementing all the features of the old compiler, we might see some interesting new features soon (the guy has to spend his time doing something). I certainly heard several developers talking with Mars (great name for a compiler wizard, don't you think?) about their desire for various language features.

A side note: if you thought the new Extends keyword in method declaration is an interesting feature, it turns out that it is syntactic sugar for a feature that has long been available in the new compiler: you could invoke any method as a message to its first argument, so:

A regular method call
MyMethod(x, y, z)

could until now just as easily be written

The same method call, as a message to its first argument
x.MyMethod(y, z)

Who knew? In any event, you are now required to use the new Extends syntax before you can do this.

Unfortunately, a little experimentation reveals that Extends doesn't work quite as naturally as one might like. I was going to write a nice little debugging library by declaring the likes of a Log method that Extends Object. Then every class in the program would support a Log method call. Sadly, declaring a method Sub Log(x As Object, message As String) does not currently let you call Log("My cool message") from within an object; you would need to do me.Log("My cool message"). I mentioned this to Mars, and I hope he decides to add this little bit of rounding out for an interesting little feature.

Swordfish

The second exciting revelation at REAL World was a new product for writing CGIs in REALbasic. The product is known for now by its code name: Swordfish.

What little we were shown seems great: you drag web pages into the application, and the IDE provides the ability to script the controls in the pages using conventional REALbasic code. While this may introduce minor changes into the HTML of the page, almost all of the action is server-side. Done right, this strikes me as a very savvy play: the product should produce very fast, compiled server-side code. Existing REALbasic programmers are now web programmers with minimal extra learning, and folks wanting to write server-side code who don't know a suitable language will find REALbasic more approachable than the likes of Perl or PHP. I'm not sure how big this market actually is, but I'm sure it's big enough to support a product like this pretty well.

Oh, and before you ask, it will work with Apache or as a stand-alone web server. And REAL Software is "looking into" IIS.

Vision

The keynote briefly mentioned REAL Software's vision for the future. While it was mostly market speak, the part that was interesting to me was that they clearly intended to target handhelds and, interestingly, plugins (for Photoshop and the like). Swordfish was the first evidence, they said, of their desire to let us take our REALbasic skills "everywhere".

Drew Carey

We were shown a clip of a mention of REALbasic on the Drew Carey show. This was just too freaky for words, and elicited quite a cheer from the crowd.

The Developers, and a Plug

I'd say there were 50 or so developers at the conference, quite a few from outside the US. The atmosphere was optimistic, and the diversity in the ways REALbasic is being applied by these people was fascinating. From in-house development for a medical research organization, to vertical applications, to games, simulators, educational software, utilities... It was all there. Encouraging that REALbasic has managed to be such a good tool for so many uses; I just hope the reach of the company doesn't exceed its grasp as REALbasic's ambition increases.

I found it interesting that many of the developers there clearly didn't have a computer science background, and that even some of the most experienced REALbasic developers didn't understand all of the generally useful important features in REALbasic (a number of developers there didn't understand or uses Interfaces, for example). This is not entirely surprising, as REALbasic has always been designed to be friendly to beginner programmers. Very often, it is the experts in a field who can write the best software, not professional programmers.

I will say this: if you are using REALbasic without such a background, REAL Software offers the Curriculum Project, a 30-lesson Computer Science course using REALbasic, which I wrote (search the REAL Software site for "Curriculum"). I am confident that it is an excellent way to round-out your understanding of how to use the REALbasic language to maximum effect.

The Sessions

The conference went for two days, with three seminars on each day. I'd like to have attended more seminars than I was able, and I heard good things about most of them. For my part, I came away with a new appreciation for the ease with which REALbasic can be used to manipulate QuickTime content, or to do REAL-time 3D graphics. The QuickTime sessions showed a simple application that nevertheless managed to replicate quite a bit of the functionality of iMovie. Something I didn't realize is that it is not necessary to have QuickTime Pro installed to use Quicktime to compress and edit movies -- it seems that all QuickTime Pro does is activate these extra features in Apple's Quicktime player. For my part, I now intend to develop a program to make it easier to work with the files I get from my ReplayTV.

The Developer Program

I heard a number of positive comments about the developer program. Everyone who commented said that they'd received useful referrals from the program. REAL Software mentioned at one point that they had difficulty at times finding developers for the referrals that they had available.

REALbasic Developer Magazine

It seemed that almost everyone at the conference subscribed to REALbasic Developer, and most of the presenters had written for it. I was given a free copy of the current issue, and it looks like an excellent investment in your REALbasic skills. Bi-monthly. http://rbdeveloper.com.

Printing: No news

I remain disappointed that REAL has made no official announcement of features to improve printing from REALbasic. On the other hand, as I pounded on this question with developers and REAL Software folks, dbReports was mentioned repeatedly as a good solution. I spoke with the developer of dbReports at the conference, and I hope to arrange a review soon.

Next Time: An Interview

Next month, I should be presenting an interview with Geoff Perlman, CEO of REAL Software.


Guyren G Howe works in artificial intelligence research, after years of work as a technical writer and developer. He is married with one child, is an Australian, and lives in Austin, Texas. Guyren has been working with REALbasic for several years. Most notably, he wrote the REALbasic Curriculum Project, an extensive computer science curriculum, for REAL Software (available from the REALbasic website).

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Logic Pro X 10.3 - Music creation and au...
Logic Pro X is the most advanced version of Logic ever. Sophisticated new tools for professional songwriting, editing, and mixing are built around a modern interface that's designed to get creative... Read more
iMazing 2.1.8 - Complete iOS device mana...
iMazing (was DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and from... Read more
Civilization VI 1.0.2 - Next iteration o...
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is the next entry in the popular Civilization franchise. Originally created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, Civilization is a strategy game in which you attempt to... Read more
TurboTax 2016 - Manage your 2016 U.S. ta...
TurboTax guides you through your tax return step by step, does all the calculations, and checks your return for errors and overlooked deductions. It lets you file your return electronically to get... Read more
Microsoft Office 2016 15.30 - Popular pr...
Microsoft Office 2016 - Unmistakably Office, designed for Mac. The new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote provide the best of both worlds for Mac users - the familiar Office... Read more
FotoMagico 5.3 - Powerful slideshow crea...
FotoMagico lets you create professional slideshows from your photos and music with just a few, simple mouse clicks. It sports a very clean and intuitive yet powerful user interface. High image... Read more
Acorn 5.6.1 - Bitmap image editor.
Acorn is a new image editor built with one goal in mind - simplicity. Fast, easy, and fluid, Acorn provides the options you'll need without any overhead. Acorn feels right, and won't drain your bank... Read more
Dash 3.4.3 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API documentation browser and code snippet manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.37 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.4.7.0 - Monitor and c...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more

Fire Emblem: Heroes coming to Google Pla...
Nintendo gave us our first look at Fire Emblem: Heroes, the upcoming mobile Fire Emblem game the company hinted at last year. Revealed at the Fire Emblem Direct event held today, the game will condense the series' tactical RPG combat into bite-... | Read more »
ReSlice (Music)
ReSlice 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Audio Slice Machine Slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or... | Read more »
Stickman Surfer rides in with the tide t...
Stickson is back and this time he's taken up yet another extreme sport - surfing. Stickman Surfer is out this Thursday on both iOS and Android, so if you've been following the other Stickman adventures, you might be interested in picking this one... | Read more »
Z-Exemplar (Games)
Z-Exemplar 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
5 dastardly difficult roguelikes like th...
Edmund McMillen's popular roguelike creation The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has finally crawled onto mobile devices. It's a grotesque dual-stick shooter that tosses you into an endless, procedurally generated basement as you, the pitiable Isaac,... | Read more »
Last week on PocketGamer
Welcome to a weekly feature looking back on the past seven days of coverage on our sister website, PocketGamer. It’s taken a while for 2017 to really get going, at least when it comes to the world of portable gaming. Thank goodness, then, for... | Read more »
ROME: Total War - Barbarian Invasion set...
To the delight of mobile strategy fans, Feral Interactive released ROME: Total War just a few months ago. Now the game's expansion, Barbarian Invasion is marching onto iPads as a standalone release. [Read more] | Read more »
Yuri (Games)
Yuri 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: It's night. Yuri opens his eyes. He wakes up in a strange forest.The small, courageous explorer rides on his bed on casters in this... | Read more »
Space schmup Xenoraid launches on the Ap...
10Tons Xenoraid is out today on the App Store, bringing some high-speed space action to your mobile gadgets just in time for the weekend. The company's last premium title, another sci-fi game titled Neon Chrome, did quite well for itself, so... | Read more »
Star Wars: Force Arena Beginner's G...
Star Wars: Force Arena joined the populous ranks of Star Wars games on mobile today. It's a two-lane MOBA starring many familiar faces from George Lucas's famed sci-fi franchise. As with most games of this nature, Force Arena can be a little obtuse... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Laptop Market – Flight To Quality? – The ‘Boo...
Preliminary quarterly PC shipments data released by Gartner Inc. last week reveal an interesting disparity between sales performance of major name PC vendors as opposed to that of less well-known... Read more
IBM and Bell Transform Canadian Enterprise Mo...
IBM and Bell Canada have announced they are joining forces to offer IBM MobileFirst for iOS market-ready enterprise applications for iPad, iPhone or Apple Watch. Bell, Canada’s largest communications... Read more
Otter Products is Closing… For a Day of Givin...
On Thursday, Feb. 9, Otter Products is closing doors to open hearts. In partnership with the OtterCares Foundation, the company is pausing operations for a day so all employees can volunteer with... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Amazon has 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros (MJLQ2LL/A) available for $1799.99 including free shipping. Apple charges $1999 for this model, so Amazon’s price is represents a $200 savings. Read more
Back in stock: Apple refurbished 13-inch Reti...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $360 off original MSRP, starting at $1099. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is... Read more
CalcTape for macOS 1.2 Adding Machine App for...
schoettler Software has announced CalcTape 1.2, an update to their desktop calculator for macOS. When it comes to adding long columns of numbers, doing complex calculations or playing around with... Read more
New MacBooks And MacBook Pros WIth Kaby Lake...
Digitimes’ Joseph Tsai cites a Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) report that unnamed market watchers are predicting Apple MacBook shipments to grow 10 percent in 2017, and projecting 15... Read more
New 2016 13-inch MacBook Pros on sale for up...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar MacBook Pro... Read more
New 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock a...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 15″ Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more
Opera Announces Neon Concept Browser For Mac
Opera is inviting users to get a glimpse of what Opera for computers could become with its Opera Neon browser concept. Each Opera Neon feature is described as “an alternate reality” for the Opera... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (Multi-L...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*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
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Stamford, CT We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most well-known Read more
*Apple* macOS Systems Integration Administra...
…most exceptional support available in the industry. SCI is seeking an Junior Apple macOS systems integration administrator that will be responsible for providing Read more
*Apple* Premier Retailer - Service Technicia...
DescriptionSimply Mac is the largest premier retailer for Apple products and solutions. At Simply Mac we are all Apple , all the time. Same products. Same prices. Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.