REAL Software on Tuesday introduced REALbasic 2005 for Macintosh, a new version of their development environment that’s been completely redesigned. The new version touts support for Tiger’s “Spotlight” technology, a Linux-based integrated development environment (IDE) and more. All in all, more than 100 new features and improvements have been made in this new release.
REALbasic’s user interface gets a complete revamp in this new version to help improve accessibility for new users and experience developers alike, according to REAL Software president and CEO Geoff Perlman.
“We’ve redesigned the IDE from scratch,” Perlman told MacCentral. “One of the things we discovered was that our users spend a lot of time navigating around the interface. Rather than try to develop a new interface metaphor, we tried to make the IDE more like a tabbed Web browser interface.”
The new interface also features new toolbars that expose REALbasic’s most common functions and a status bar. And for the first time, the interface allows REALbasic developers to have multiple projects opened simultaneously.
What’s more, Perlman said that REALbasic is an example of “eating your own dog food.” While previous versions of REALbasic were coded using C++, this version was coded using REALbasic itself. “This has improved product quality,” said Perlman.
Tiger users also gain access to Spotlight, Tiger’s search technology, in three separate ways: Users can search all of their projects from within REALbasic; a REALbasic plug-in lets users search for projects from within the Finder, and the SpotlightQuery class also lets REALbasic developers add Spotlight searches to their applications.
At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) earlier this month CEO Steve Jobs announced that the Macintosh would transition to an Intel-based CPU architecture beginning in 2006. REAL Software announced shortly thereafter plans to support new Intel-based Macs.
“It won’t have much of an impact on our users, since we’ve supported the x86 architecture since 1999,” Perlman said. “The majority of our customers will simply open their projects, hit ‘build’ and get a new working version.”
Perlman estimated that less than one percent of REALbasic’s users are likely to have problems getting their projects working on Intel-based Macs.
“We abstract our users from these sort of details, so they get the benefit of being insulated from the hardware but being able to produce native versions for multiple platforms,” said Perlman.
Expanded Linux support
REALbasic users can already create binaries for Linux operating systems, but up until now, developing a REALbasic application for Linux has still required the programmer to work in Windows or Mac OS X.
That’s no longer the case — REAL Software is offering a public beta of its Linux IDE, marking the first time that Linux REALbasic developers can actually work in a native Linux environment. Perlman said that the standard version of REALbasic will be released for free once it’s done. REAL Software expects to release the finished version of the Linux IDE in August.
“There’s an expectation in the Linux world that there should be a version that’s available for free,” explained Perlman.
More power for experienced developers
Also new in this release is a Container control that lets users more easily create custom user interface controls. A new HTML viewer control provides a way for REALbasic applications to view Web pages or any other HTML-based content.
REALbasic 2005 also includes REAL SQL Database, a single-user database engine based on SQLabs’ SQLite software. For other database connectivity, REALbasic Professional projects can connect to Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, FileMaker Server, MySQL, Sybase, Openbase, Frontbase, 4D Server, or any other Open Database Connectivty (ODBC) data source.
REAL Software bills REALbasic 2005 as “cross-platform that really works.” Compatibility has been improved with Visual Basic, a popular Windows development environment. This enhances the availability of software for Mac OS X users, according to Perlman, since more Visual Basic applications can be migrated to Mac OS X.
REALbasic 2005 is available in Professional and Standard editions. The Standard edition lets users create Mac OS X and Mac “Classic” applications; the Professional version offers cross-platform compiling support for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
The Professional edition costs US$399.95 (an introductory price $100 less than normal); the Standard edition costs $99.95. Upgrades from previous releases costs $199.95 for the Professional edition and $49.95 for the Standard edition.