The keynote address was pretty standard for Real Software with no big surprises. It’s obvious that RS has decided to focus upon the broad category of ‘database applications.’ From my perspective this was a ‘duh’ moment. I could have told them that because I’ve only worked on one application in the past four years that was NOT a db application and that could have been made into a db app if I hadn’t wanted to play around with XML.
So with their new focus they’ve decided to create some db related classes to help the debugger help the users. This sounds nice for beginners but I’ve used classes like this on various projects in the past. This approach reminds me of Valentina’s ‘class-way’ approach. While I’m not a big Valentina db fan, it does make life easier in some circumstances. From my experience, the more complicated projects have issues using a strict class approach as table joins become somewhat problematic. I’ll reserve judgement to see if it helps the pro users out or not.
RS is also investing a lot of time and effort in REAL SQL Server and is making it faster and easier to use. They’ve identified that there are a lot of users with standard SQLite databases that might want them to become multi-user databases. They cited some statistics from a survey that said MySQL use was down and REAL SQL Server usage was up. I have mixed feelings about this product as I think it distracts them from being a great development platform. If I had any say in the matter I’d create an ‘upgrade’ tool for use with one of the cross-platform database servers available.
If you look at the ‘big picture’ it’s obvious that there is one huge, glaring, hole in their database offerings: Reporting Tools. While On Target Reports is what everyone buys, it seems that everyone soon finds it limitations. I should note that I have NOT tried the newest version to see what they’ve changed. I had many conversations where this glaring hole was mentioned. I have no insider knowledge, but I’d bet if they’re not working on something currently, I’d bet they’re thinking about it.
RS’ new PR firm had several people attending the conference. I think they were overwhelmed at the level of RB geekiness.
I will never say the term “Remote Debugger” in the same way after Wednesday nights evening event. It was a live version of the old Mystery Science Theatre in a downtown Austin theater where they were playing Back to the Future.
There was a lot of talk from RS about working with the developer community. I think this is a smart move because as developers we need some things that RS isn’t providing. I sat in on one small gathering of folks working on open source RB code analysis project and RS indicated they might be willing to provide some technical information. I think RS is realizing that they can’t be everything to everybody and still stay current and move as quickly as they could in new directions.
I was impressed with their Build Engineer, Nathan, who led a well received session and who was very forthcoming as to how RB is going to get better by what he’s doing. As the engineers check things into subversion they have multiple scripts that help them determine if anything was broken. This is very good news as the ‘process’ of building an executable is very important.
My session on Friday was pitted against two sessions that I would have gone to if I could have. Attendance was good, but not as good as last year. We had a lively discussion on finding work. It is my opinion that there is more than enough REALbasic work available for RB consultants. I heard through some of the attendees that some developers were very unhappy about the amount of work available. My question to them is: Did you talk to the guy who had enough work for 2 developers for a full year? There were at least two people that I’m aware of that were looking for developers.
Finally, Friday morning was the big Association of REALbasic Professionals formation meeting. I was overwhelmed with the response. Nearly 40% of the attendees got up early and listened to me pontificate on the association. I thank everyone that helped on the steering committee, the people who have already donated time and software to the cause and to people that have expressed an interest in helping out. Look for more information from the association at www.arbp.org. I expect great things for the association but it’ll take some time to get everything up and running. Please be patient.
All that (and much more) from a three day conference. If you’ve never been to a Real World, you should go if you have a need to connect with the RB community. If you are shy like me (really!) find out who’s going and just hang out. I guarantee that you won’t regret it.