REALbasic 2005 makes Mac development easier

REAL Software Inc. on Tuesday introduced REALbasic 2005, the latest version of their rapid application development (RAD) environment for Mac, Windows and Linux platforms. The new release promises to simplify the development of new Macintosh software applications, according to REAL software CEO Geoff Perlman.

Helping Windows developers reduce risk

"The Mac market is obviously much smaller than the Windows market," Perlman told MacCentral. "To see the Mac market as an opportunity, the risk needs to be in line with the opportunity. That's what we bring to the table."

To that end, REALbasic 2005 has been reworked to provide Windows developers with a better user experience. The software features a much more consistent and intuitive interface across the three platforms it supports. Included with REALbasic is the VB Project Converter, which helps Windows developers using Visual Basic to get a leg up on converting their project over to REALbasic instead.

As a success story, Perlman talked about CompuTest LLC. The company makes testing software used in law schools that was originally coded using Visual Basic. After CompuTest committed to doing a Mac version at the behest of a major law school that saw an influx of students equipped with PowerBooks and iBooks, the company estimated the development of a Mac version would take them a year, once they could hire a Mac programmer on staff to do the job.

"CompuTest found REALbasic and discovered its similarity to Visual Basic," said Perlman. "They gave themselves 30 days to get a proof of concept done with some basic functionality. They had it done and ready for beta-testing in 12, with full functionality."

Once the code is in the system and working, developers can compile completely self-contained 32-bit applications for Windows, Mac and Linux alike by simply clicking a checkbox. REALbasic 2005 eliminates what REAL Software calls "DLL hell" on the Windows platform.

Another cross-platform benefit comes to developers who use Java, according to Perlman. "Java's found its niche on servers," he said, "but the client experience hasn't been that good." To that end, said Perlman, Java developers who have converted their projects to REALbasic have been able to cut their development time to one-fifth the previous amount.

'Eating our own dog food'

"We're also 'eating our own dog food,'" said Perlman. Previous releases of REALbasic were coded using the C++ language, although with REALbasic 5.5, the last significant update, the groundwork was laid to add pieces that were written in REALbasic. When REALbasic 2005 is released, the entire Integrated Development Environment (IDE) will have been recoded in REALbasic itself.

"That has some benefits for our customers, most of them indirect" said Perlman. The engineers who are developing REALbasic are now having an experience more in line with their customers' own experience, which gives them a better sense of what does and doesn't work.

REALbasic 2005 has shrugged off its version numbering nomenclature with a year demarcation instead. Putting "2005" on the end of the name gives customers unfamiliar with the product a more immediate sense that it's up-to-date, according to Perlman.

With this announcement, REALbasic 2005 is nearing its beta development milestone, and REAL software is confident that it will have the product out within 90 days. The company hasn't announced what upgrades will cost for existing developers, though it is offering users who buy REALbasic 5.5 today a free upgrade when REALbasic 2005 is released.

REAL Software plans on announcing more specific features of REALbasic 2005 closer to release. The company's annual gathering of developers, REALWorld, descends on REAL Software's home town of Austin, Texas in late March.

REALbasic 2005 will be available in Standard and Developer Editions for US$99.95 and $499.95 respectively; The Professional Edition is being offered at a special price of $399.95.

This story, "REALbasic 2005 makes Mac development easier" was originally published by PCWorld.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon