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).

 
AAPL
$102.50
Apple Inc.
+0.25
MSFT
$45.43
Microsoft Corpora
+0.55
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
+2.40

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Skype 6.19.0.450 - Voice-over-internet p...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
VueScan 9.4.41 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LaunchBar 6.1 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rhonna Designs Magic (Photography)
Rhonna Designs Magic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Want to sprinkle *magic* on your photos? With RD Magic, you can add colors, filters, light leaks, bokeh, edges,... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014
Shiny Happy App Reviews   | Read more »
Qube Kingdom – Tips, Tricks, Strategies,...
Qube Kingdom is a tower defense game from DeNA. You rally your troops – magicians, archers, knights, barbarians, and others – and fight against an evil menace looking to dominate your kingdom of tiny squares. Planning a war isn’t easy, so here are a... | Read more »
Qube Kingdom Review
Qube Kingdom Review By Nadia Oxford on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: KIND OF A SQUARE KINGDOMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Qube Kingdom has cute visuals, but it’s a pretty basic tower defense game at heart.   | Read more »
Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwi...
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwide Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Add...
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Adds Lots of New Stuff Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save up to $300 on an iMac with Apple refurbi...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 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
The Rise of Phablets
Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, a businesses and technology consulting firm focused solely on the financial services industry, has released an infographic depicting the convergence of... Read more
Eddy – Cloud Music Player for iPhone/iPad Fre...
Ukraine based CapableBits announces the release of Eddy, its tiny, but smart and powerful cloud music player for iPhone and iPad that allows users to stream or download music directly from cloud... Read more
A&D Medical Launches Its WellnessConnecte...
For consumers and the healthcare providers and loved ones who care for them, A&D Medical, a leader in connected health and biometric measurement devices and services, has launched its... Read more
Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech
Anand Lal Shimpi, whose AnandTech Website is famous for its meticulously detailed and thoroughgoing reviews and analysis, is packing it in. Lal Shimpi, who founded the tech site at age 14 in 1997,... Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini, Apple refurbished, in stock...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2.5GHz Mac minis available for $509, $90 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, and shipping is free. Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Labor Day Weekend MacBook Pro sale; 15-inch m...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
Labor Day Weekend iPad mini sale; $50 to $100...
Best Buy has the iPad mini with Retina Display (WiFi models) on sale for $50 off MSRP on their online store for Labor Day Weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for... Read more
13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Air on sale for $899,...
Adorama has the new 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.