Is REALbasic a Good Name?
As a REALbasic developer I’ve have to fight the name. Basic is well, basic. Simple. It can’t get any simpler. It’s a development language that’s been scorned by developers using ‘real languages’ for years. Mention basic to a c++, Java or .NET developer and you’ll probably note the sneer on their face. I’ve heard these folks described as language purists. It doesn’t matter what language their using because whatever it is is better than any basic language.
Think about the hot languages such as Java, PHP, .NET, Cocoa and Ruby On Rails. Each describes their language in an abstract way. Well, you could argue that, with the exception of Java, none of examples are really a language but a framework that the development environments tie into. I think these are tiny but significant mindset differences.
Add ‘REAL’ in front of basic and a lot of people get this mental image of QBasic and immediately pooh-pooh it. So if there’s a ‘real’ basic then where is the ‘unreal’ basic? Silly, I know, but the two words together just bring a ‘simple’ mental image and from my perspective, simple doesn’t sell well into a corporate environment.
So now let’s add into the mix of negativity all of the really, really bad applications that people have written in Visual Basic, and yes, REALbasic over the years. Both development environments let an average person do some really silly things from a development standpoint. It let’s non-programmers create relatively complex applications without having to worry about memory allocation and the like. Let’s face it, there are probably hundreds of thousands of old Visual Basic 6 applications still being used in corporate environments so VB is, arguably, the most widely used development environment in the world. Bad programmers are bad programmers in any language it’s just that VB and RB let you get away with some bad things simply because of their easy-to-use nature.
REALbasic is thankfully much more than that. It’s a full object oriented language that compiles into native executables for Mac, Windows and Linux. It’s extensible by using plugins (written in C) and by using OS dependent declares. It’s fully Unicode aware and it works with a wide variety of open source and commercial databases. Real SQL Server is a nice, very inexpensive database server that can be used by anyone and not just DBA types.
The REALbasic IDE is not just about the language. It integrates the user interface with the code and even let’s you edit database tables and data. It lets you easily edit toolbars, container controls, windows and even let you do this in multiple languages. Heck, you can even develop and debug on one platform while the application is running in an entirely separate environment!
So what’s not to like about REALbasic and Real Software? The name ‘REALbasic’.
If I could change it, I’d change it to REAL Studio or something completely different. I think a change has some advantages. One, it disassociates itself from ‘basic’ even though we all know that it’s a basic language. Two, it tells potential users that it’s more than just a language. Three, from a selling it into a corporate environment standpoint, anything that doesn’t have ‘basic’ in the name is one more thing I don’t have to ‘educate’ the client about.
Now the drawback to changing from REALbasic to anything else is huge. You’re essentially rebranding an existing product and that is never an easy thing to do. It will hurt until the new name sticks and pain for a business usually means a hit on sales and I’m not sure that RS is ready to survive a six month (or longer) drop in sales until the new name is established. There is also the risk that the public will absolutely hate the new name or perhaps even worse, find it funny or offensive.
So what are you thoughts on renaming REALbasic? Good idea or bad? Why? What would you rename it as?