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

Alfred 2.6 - Quick launcher for apps and...
Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at... Read more
1Password 5.1 - Powerful password manage...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
GarageSale 6.9.2 - Create outstanding eB...
GarageSale is a slick, full-featured client application for the eBay online auction system. Create and manage your auctions with ease. With GarageSale, you can create, edit, track, and manage... Read more
calibre 2.17 - Complete e-library manage...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
OmniGraffle Pro 6.1.2 - Create diagrams,...
OmniGraffle Pro helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use... Read more
OmniGraffle 6.1.2 - Create diagrams, flo...
OmniGraffle helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use Graffle to... Read more
RoboForm 2.0.2 - Password manager; syncs...
RoboForm is a password manager that offers one-click login, mobile syncing, easy form filling, and reliable security. Password Manager. RoboForm remembers your passwords so you don't have to! Just... Read more
Apple MainStage 3.1 - Live performance t...
Love the sound you got on your recording? MainStage 3 makes it easy to bring all the same instruments and effects to the stage. Everything from the Sound Library and Smart Controls you're familiar... Read more
Freeway Pro 7.0.2 - Drag-and-drop Web de...
Freeway Pro lets you build websites with speed and precision... without writing a line of code! With its user-oriented drag-and-drop interface, Freeway Pro helps you piece together the website of... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.44 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more

Sentinel 4: Dark Star Adds New Campaign...
Sentinel 4: Dark Star Adds New Campaign and More Posted by Ellis Spice on January 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Wheel & Deal Review
Wheel & Deal Review By Tre Lawrence on January 27th, 2015 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A simple arcade shooter that has a retro feel.   | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: January 19-23, 201...
Warm Your Winter With New Apps!   How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out... | Read more »
Eggmaster Review
Eggmaster Review By Jennifer Allen on January 26th, 2015 Our Rating: :: BRIEFLY COMPELLINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Tap like crazy to gain eggs, so that you can buy upgrades to gain more eggs, and so on. It... | Read more »
Cloudy Or Dry – Funny Or Die Release a W...
Cloudy Or Dry – Funny Or Die Release a Weather App Posted by Ellis Spice on January 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
Mediocre, the Team Behind Smash Hit, is...
Mediocre, the Team Behind Smash Hit, is Teasing Their Latest Unnamed Project Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Heroes of Gaia Review
Heroes of Gaia Review By Campbell Bird on January 26th, 2015 Our Rating: :: TIMERS OF MIGHT AND MAGICUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad This free-to-play rpg looks a lot like Heroes of Might and Magic, but it’s poor... | Read more »
Choice Provisions is Set to Launch Destr...
Choice Provisions is Set to Launch Destructamundo on iOS This Month Posted by Tre Lawrence on January 23rd, 2015 [ permalink ] Choice Provisions – home stable to | Read more »
King of Thieves – An Interview With Zept...
Ahead of the release of ZeptoLab’s King of Thieves, we were able to ask ZeptoLab’s co-founder, Semyon Voinov, a few questions about the inspiration behind the game and what that means for the Cut the Rope franchise. | Read more »
Handle Review
Handle Review By Jennifer Allen on January 23rd, 2015 Our Rating: :: SPEEDY ORGANIZINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Handle is a very convenient way of juggling your emails, To Do list, and Calendar all through one... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save up to $340 on iMacs with Apple Certified...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $340 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more
AppleCare Protection Plans on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 3-Year AppleCare Warranties on sale for up to $105 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - Mac Laptops 15″ and Above: $244 $105 off MSRP - Mac Laptops 13″ and... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available sta...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for up to $60 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $255... Read more
3TB AirPort Time Capsule on sale for $349, $5...
B&H Photo has 3TB AirPort Time Capsules on sale for $349 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model (except... Read more
16GB iPad Air 2 on sale for $446, save $53
Walmart has 16GB WiFi iPad Air 2s on sale for $53 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices available for online orders only, in-... Read more
Save up to $300 on a new Mac, $30 on an iPad,...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
MasterCard Brings Contactless Payment, Apple...
MasterCard, the official card of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and the PGA TOUR are bringing the latest payment technology to the spectator experience with the introduction of contactless... Read more
Petitioning Dropbox For Mac OS X 10.4 and 10....
Last week Dropbox announced to its users that app support for Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5 will end May 18 — disappointing news for those of us who are still getting useful service out of older PPC Macs... Read more
Stop Street Harassment, Bullying, and Assault...
The STOP-ATTACK (http://www.stop-attack.com) app will leverage smartphone technology to make the world a safer place. Whether it’s bullying, street harassment or something even more sinister, the app... Read more
Stir Kinetic Desk M1 Standing Or Sitting Desk...
The age of the standing desk is upon us, and according to medical research, it’s arriving none too soon. The World Health Organization (WHO), reports that 60 to 85 percent of people worldwide lead... Read more

Jobs Board

Detailer *Apple* Ford Body Shop / Collision...
Apple Automotive is one of the fastest growing dealer…and it shows. Consider making the switch to the Apple Automotive Group today! At Apple Automotive , Read more
*Apple* Acura/Subaru Service Technicians - A...
Apple Automotive is one of the fastest growing dealer…and it shows. Consider making the switch to the Apple Automotive Group today! At Apple Automotive , Read more
Business Development Manager - *Apple* Pay...
**Job Summary** Apple Pay is seeking an experienced business development manager to support the identification, recruitment, negotiation and ongoing management of Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC)- Retail S...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.