REALbasic 5 -- with Mac and Windows support -- previewed

Real Software Inc., makers of the REALbasic cross-platform development environment (which has been Mac only for a long time), has announced REALbasic 5, which will run on both Mac and Windows platforms. The update will also include other new features, including many Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar-only features.

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REALbasic for Macintosh users have been able to create applications for both Macintosh and Windows since 1999. Now Windows users can do the same.

"Our customers have been asking us to provide a Windows version of REALbasic for years," Geoff Perlman, President and CEO of REAL Software, told MacCentral. "Historically, it was Mac only, but deployed on all platforms. Now Windows users will also be able to develop with REALbasic. That doesn't lessen the value of REALbasic for the Mac. It just means more great software for the Mac."

And at least one formerly Windows-only company agrees. Especially as REALbasic for Windows will create a compiled Mac application much as REALbasic for Macintosh creates a compiled Windows application.

"We started as a Windows-only software company," said Eddie Zaremba, president and CEO of Trizen Systems. "Now REALbasic makes it easy for us to develop for both Mac and Windows. REALbasic is the only Macintosh programming environment that works like the tools we are accustomed to on Windows. We couldn't support the Mac if it weren't for REALbasic."

Perlman said that REAL Software has been "pushing hard on the education front" in recent months. They've created a "really nice curriculum" for REALbasic and not all their students have a Mac at home, he said. Now those students will be able to debug their projects on Windows.

"Our intention isn't to compete with Visual Basic or other development tools on the Windows side," Perlman said. "But no one owns the cross platform development environment, and we think we can play a big role here. Plus, Apple is doing a better job in dealing with the enterprise environment and we also feel we can play a key role in this. This will be a huge win for Mac fans. And it's certainly not that we're abandoning the Mac and going over to the 'dark side'. After all, we only have three PCs in our entire office."

Project files in REALbasic 5 will be cross-platform compatible. REAL Software will also have a new plug-in file format so that plug-ins can be cross-platform, as well.

REALbasic 5 will support ActiveX. Lorin Rivers, REAL Software's vice president of marketing, said that while REAL Software will make as much of REALbasic cross-platform as possible, some technologies are available on one platform and not another. REALbasic supports these technologies on their native platform.

"We will be providing a new plug-in file format that will make plug-in files cross-platform," Rivers said. "We will also be providing a conversion utility that will allow you to convert your existing REALbasic plug-ins to the new format. Your plug-ins which already support Windows will also work in the Windows IDE after this conversion and will not require a new version."

REALbasic 5 is currently in public testing and is available to any registered user of REALbasic 4.5. It's slated to ship in the first quarter of 2003. Pricing hasn't been determined, but it's not expected to change from the current cost structure.

REALbasic 4.5 costs US$99.95 direct from REAL Software or through your local Mac retailer. REAL Software offers academic and volume discounts as well as license-only options. In addition to US English, REALbasic is available in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese from International distributors.

This story, "REALbasic 5 -- with Mac and Windows support -- previewed" was originally published by PCWorld.

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