Real Software Website Hacked

I was told this morning that the Real Software/Xojo website was hacked.  The timing sucks simply because all of their engineering staff is in Florida at the Xojo Developer Conference.

Xojo already had plans to migrate to their new Xojo Cloud servers as part of their one-click hosting solution, ironically, for better security.  Last night the Xojo engineers started that migration early.  As I write this they are still in that transition.

I was told that RS stores no credit card data nor other personal data either other than username and password.  Either way, you should change your password.  I’m sure you’ve heard this a hundred times before but you should not share usernames and passwords among websites.

Having gone through this myself in the not too recent past I feel for them.  The web is a dangerous place.

More information on their blog at http://www.realsoftwareblog.com/2013/04/our-servers-are-down-for-security-update.html

Real Studio 2012 R1

Real Software released Real Studio 2012 Release 1 this week. Real Software had hoped to release the new IDE user interface for R1 but significant problems delayed it to the point where releasing R1 using the old user interface made sense (and kept us from storming the castle with pitchforks).

This release is pretty solid, in my opinion. However, my first word of warning is about plugins. If you don’t use plugins then there’s not much to worry about but, if you’re like us and use a full compliment of plugins you might have to update your plugins before using R1.

Plugin coding rules are now enforced in R1 and if the plugin is doing things wrong error dialogs will popup, or worse the IDE will crash, when starting up Real Studio. You will need to update your plugins if you get these errors or crashes. For example, if you use Einhugur or MonkeyBread Software plugins you will most likely get errors. Both vendors have updates available for most, if not all, of their plugins. The drawback is that you might need purchase new licenses and there might be some other third party plugins that have not updated their plugins at all.

Older versions of the Real Software database plugins simply will NOT work in this version of Real Studio. This is a significant departure from previous releases where you could get away with using an older plugin despite what RS shipped with the IDE. Now, you will have to use the latest DB plugins. The opposite is also true, it is unlikely that using the newer database plugins in an older version of Real Studio will work either. While the REALSQLDatabase plugin receives a lot of attention (since it’s the default database in Real Studio), if you are dependent upon other database plugins you may want to do some testing before doing a release with this version of Real Studio (always a good idea but I think an extra note of caution might be worthwhile).

I should note that the ODBC and PostgreSQL database plugins were updated AFTER the official release of 2012 R1 and if you use them you need to download them from the Real Software extras download page at http://www.realsoftware.com/download/#extras (scroll to the bottom of page).

What’s nice about Release 1 is that Cocoa is mostly complete with a few minor (but significant) issues. The amount of work that has gone into Cocoa is staggering. There are hundreds of Cocoa fixes and changes alone – way more than I can list here. Most things now work in Cocoa and while it’s still labeled as ‘Beta’ you should really start migrating your projects where possible. The Carbon framework simply isn’t going to get many bug fixes and certainly no new features. The future is Cocoa.

One issue that popped up late in beta testing for Cocoa applications that did not get fixed for the R1 release was tab order. I’m not exceptionally familiar with the problem but it seems that setting the tab order does nothing in Cocoa apps and they’ll default to a tab order of Left to Right and Top to Bottom. As you can imagine this might make your application UI a little wonky.

For Windows, perhaps the biggest change is that you can now use WebKit. Yay! This is good news for anyone that’s suffered through HTMLViewer not acting the same between Mac (WebKit) and Windows (Internet Explorer) applications. Not all is good news however since using WebKit for Windows will add about 40 MB to your build as all of the libraries for WebKit are added to your application. It is based on Chromium Embedded so it has a few limitations such as not being able to prevent the print dialog from showing, you can’t zoom just text, and it can’t track the document load progress.

Also new in Windows is a new OLEObject constructor that can take IDispatch objects. We simply don’t do much with OLEObjects in Real Studio. Anyone out there have any experience with this tell me what it means? Does this mean that Real Studio is one step closer to being COM compliant?

New to the REALSQLDatabase class is the ability to incrementally read/write blobs. This should make it easier to deal with very large objects (pictures, files, strings, etc) without freezing your application. To take advantage of it, you need to use the REALSQLBlob class. Sadly, I don’t see an example project in the Examples folder however the WIKI does show some basic usage. For major new functions like this it would be nice to see how it is intended to be used in an example project.

A number of items were fixed in Linux. Users can now print at resolutions greater than 72 DPI. Likewise a number of other bugs were fixed.

Web Edition applications are significantly faster – especially the WebListbox. This is partially optimization and partially much better string handling. This same string handling optimization is also seen in the JSON classes which also received a number of bug fixes.

WebApplication.HandleSpecialURL still now working for cgi apps. This is good news for developers that want to use a Web Edition application a web services platform. In the 2011 R4.x release this was completely broken for cgi applications.

There are many other bug fixes and optimizations – too numerous to list here. Despite what the release notes say, WebContainers still fire their open event twice.

The WebMoviePlayer has received a number of tweaks and bug fixes. However, playing mp4 videos in FireFox in Windows is crazy hard (impossible?) to get working (at least has been for me). Part of this seems to be the movie player framework and some of it appears to be recent changes to Flash for FireFox Windows. After working with it for a while I simply gave up and recoded my Real Studio training videos for Theora Ogg encoding. It’s not ideal but it works (whereas it seems it never worked in previous releases).

The WebSession class has a few new features that are useful. The first is the AllowUnsupportedBrowser event that will tell the user their browser is unsupported. You can override this functionality by returning true. There is a new TimedOut event that tells you when the user Session has been idle as set by the new Timeout property. For mobile devices that support it, there is now an OrientationChanged event.

As you can see there are a lot of changes in 2012 R1. This makes sense as it’s been close to 9 months since the last major release. It’s kind of a drag that the decision to use the old UI took so long (announced in May at Real World) but it was the right decision. Changing the UI and the frameworks (Cocoa especially) all at the same time always seemed crazy to me (but them I’m naturally risk averse). Let’s hope that this minor one step back let’s Real Software take a couple of huge steps forward with Release 2.

Release 1, so far, seems to be solid. I don’t know if there is a dot release in the works or not but the Cocoa tab order issue might be worthy of one all by itself. I’m sure there will be a few other things found as more developers start working with it.

What say you, Real Studio friends? 2012 Release 1 working well for you? Noticing any problems?

Webkit for Windows

Real World News Part 2

One of the smaller tidbits of items that came out of the Real Software keynote address was that the HTMLViewer for Windows is now using WebKit instead of Internet Explorer. This is really good news for developers as it means that using the HTMLViewer is a similar experience on Mac or Windows.

Again, it was such a small tidbit that it was just a line item on my notes. But, considering how many of us Real Studio users use HTMLViewer this is really good news.

Real World 2012

Real World is back and I am very excited.  It’s been quite a while since Real Software has put on a Real World and instead of being in Austin, Texas it’s in Orlando, Florida and the hotel is on the Disney property.  I expect to see a lot more families attending this year than in the past.

I’ve been to four Real Worlds and while I like Austin the conference tends to focus on the hotel and the immediate surrounding area.  This isn’t so bad but from a “new and exciting” standpoint there’s only so much you can see in the immediate Austin downtown area.  Orlando is definitely a destination city with plenty of things to do for the family, though us geeks (you’ll notice us by the pasty white skin tones) will be shunning the output of our local celestial star.  So not that we’ll see a lot outside of the hotel at least it will be different.

I am looking forward to this Real World for many reasons.  For the first time in several years I’m not the organizer of a Real Studio event!  Yay!  You have no idea how much work goes into an event – even those as simple as the ARBP events of the past couple of years.  I’m a coder not an event planner so I’m looking forward to JUST doing a couple of presentations.

I’ll pick up some new information and techniques in the sessions but I’ll learn the most by talking with other developers.  Talking about our shared experiences (both successes and failures) is rewarding and fruitful.  As with previous Real Worlds we’ll reacquaint ourselves with friends, colleagues, competitors, and future clients.  We have several current clients that we met originally at Real World so it pays to talk to as many people as you can!  You will never find a higher concentration of Real Studio developers at one time on the planet.

I’m leading a session on Real Studio consulting.  I guess I have a few things to say about doing this for a decade.  Seth and I are doing a session on Group Development using Real Studio.  Seth is doing a solo session on extending Web Edition with 3rd party services.   The agenda was just recently posted at http://www.realsoftware.com/community/agenda.php.

I discovered today that the kickoff session is by author Ken Whitaker who is an Agile Project Management expert and I’m so looking forward to it.  If you have not used Agile in a project I’d highly recommend attending.  We’ve used Agile on a big Fortune 100 prototype project and it was an amazing experience (due mostly to the Scrum Master leading the project).  I’m looking forward to his message and how we can improve our project management skills.

Most of us are familiar with the typical waterfall project where the client gives their requirements, we go code it and after several months of hard work we give them a build.  How often has your client said, “But that’s not what I wanted!” and you have to respond, “But that’s what you asked for!”?  Agile project management breaks it down into smaller chunks and is directed by the project owner.  In the long run the coders and the project owners are happier (I believe).  I’ll be curious on how Ken spins that for smaller development teams that are typical with Real Studio.

I’m sure Real Software will be talking, A LOT, about the new IDE, Cocoa, and many other things.  Having access to the Real Software engineers is a rewarding experience and buying a few drinks for them doesn’t hurt either.  😉

I’m sure there are still slots available.  I’d love to see you there.  More information can be found at http://www.realsoftware.com/community/realworld.php

Are you attending Real World?  If not, how come?  If so, please make sure you find me and say hi!

Open Letter To RS

Dear Real Software,

Thank you for a wonderful product.  It has served me and my clients well for over a decade now.  I can think of no other product that is as easy to use yet as powerful and flexible as Real Studio.  It really is a great product and I have no problems recommending it to others.

I have been critical of Rapid Release Model in the past and will probably continue to do so in the future.  I feel that in too many cases incomplete features and documentation have been released simply to fit the schedule.  I have advocated for fewer releases or releases that stagger bug fixes and new features because I have been bitten, too often, by needing a bug fix in a new release just to be bitten by a new bug somewhere else in the product.  It’s very frustrating for me and my clients.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, we are experiencing the opposite effect.  You see, you have been telling us for over a year that we need to be testing Cocoa because it’s the future.  We’ve taken this to heart because we don’t care to get caught with our pants down.  In addition you’ve also told us that bugs in Carbon, unless critical, won’t be fixed.  This leaves us between a rock and a hard place for our Macintosh builds because we have projects (for paying clients) that can’t be built using Carbon because of bugs, and we can’t build for Cocoa because of Cocoa specific bugs.

We have similar issues with Web Edition apps.  We have a number of very critical bugs that are affecting our delivery of web apps to our clients.  Sadly, what makes this situation hard to deal with is that those bugs are marked as fixed and are only awaiting a new release.

We all know that the goal is to have the 2012 Release 1 be a 100% Cocoa Mac build.  We also know that it is a completely redesigned IDE.  Both are laudable goals and I can only imagine the complexity of managing both of those projects simultaneously.

Real Studio Release 4 was released the week of December 5, 2011.  The three dot releases fixed some hugely critical bugs but contained just a few changes.  I understand that all hands are on deck to get the new IDE up and running and Cocoa polished.  No one is denying that it’s not a huge job to undertake all that at the same time.  I question, however, if you really have the resources available and the proper planning in place to accomplish these goals in a timely manner without understanding the ramifications to your customers.

It’s now been 120 days since the last major release.  Frankly, I don’t care about the 90 day release cycle but it leaves a foul taste in my mouth when you tell us to use Cocoa because you need more feedback and then stick us with a release that has bugs in both Carbon and Cocoa.  Unfortunately, there is no end in sight as there is no release date set for 2012 Release 1 and, as far as I know, R1 is not in beta testing yet.

This delay is starting to be intolerable.  Your failure to plan and execute this transition properly is starting to cost me.  So far, my clients have been patient.  The really large projects are still on schedule but that’s about to end as Web Edition and Cocoa bugs WILL cause them to stop dead in their tracks.  Do you plan on paying my salary and my employees while we wait on you to release a working and stable version?  I’m certain that my clients won’t be willing to pay for projects that don’t work because of framework bugs.

Here’s my fear:  You’ll release a new IDE with all of the Cocoa and Web Edition fixes but because you’re hurrying it through the testing process (because we’re all bitching for bug fixes) it will not be usable.  If that happens I am doubly screwed since I have zero options.  I can’t go forward and I can’t go back.  I see this as a lose-lose situation for me.

I urge you to reconsider the Cocoa and IDE redesign in the same release.  Let us, your loyal, paying, customers get our bug fixes so that you can continue working on the new IDE.  I realize this change will greatly impact the schedule of the IDE.  I also realize that retrofitting the newer framework into the older IDE is also a LOT of work if not extremely difficult.  However, if going back to an R4 update is faster and more stable than the new R1 IDE then I say do it and I will applaud the decision and defend the decision to the end.

I know this letter probably won’t go over well but I’m looking ahead and getting nervous.  I know you’re working as hard as possible but perhaps it’s time to rethink the strategy and go a different route.  Engineering is about planning and adapting to changes.  There is no shame in doing something different.

I hope I’m wrong and things fall into place.  I’d love to pen a post saying thanks for a great release saying that all of my developers and clients are happy.  I see many things that will make that hard to do.  I am nervous and nervous customers are a bad thing.

Anxious and concerned,

Bob Keeney

BKeeney Software Inc.

Apps For Income Training

Real Studio is a great product and it is simpler than many other development tools but it’s still a programming environment with a learning curve.  The built-in User Guide and Language Reference and example programs are fine for many but not for everyone.  We started offering Real Studio video training a couple of years ago to help bridge that gap.  Based on the positive feedback we’ve received people really like the video training and it gives them an alternative way to learn the product.

I am very fortunate and blessed that my Real Studio consulting business is thriving.  I have great clients and have new ones contacting me every week.  But I also know that many people aren’t as fortunate and when Real Software announced their Apps For Income program I felt compelled to help them in some way.  After some very brief talks with Real Software we came up with something I can do to help.

I am offering a years worth of video training, at no cost, to the first 1,000 people in the Apps for Income program.  So not only will participants get a free license for Real Studio they’ll also get additional training from us.

Currently, that means each participant will get over 36 hours of Real Studio training spread out over 100+ videos.  These videos cover a bulk of the basics of Real Studio and a few areas that aren’t so basic.  We have two video series that follow a project from start to finish and cover not only programming but debugging skills and remote debugging into other operating systems.  Most videos have an accompanying project file with the source code so you can use them in your own projects.

To get more information regarding the Apps for Income program please visit http://realsoftware.com/appsforincome/.

REAL Studio Summit 2011

Welcome to 2011.  I hope that you, and your family, have a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!

If you’ve not heard about it already, THE REAL Studio event of the year is happening on March 19th and 20th in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Association of REALbasic Professionals (ARBP) and REAL Software are hosting the REAL Studio Summit 2011.

That’s just 10 weeks away!  There is still time to sign up and save some cash.  Until the end of January the cost is only $350 but after that it’s $450.

Nowhere else will you get as high a density of REALbasic developers in one location.  Currently there are REALbasic developers coming from across the United States, Europe and possibly Australia to come together to talk about our favorite development tool – REAL Studio!

This conference is shaping up nicely because there are topics that should interest many people.  If you want to learn more about the new Web Edition there’s a session on that.  Learn how to get your apps ready for the Mac App Store.  Learn about Cocoa and what’s going to be forthcoming in REAL Studio.  Learn how to manipulate PDF’s in your RB applications.  That’s just a few of the highlights.  See the complete session and speaker list at http://arbpmembers.org/real-studio-summit-2011/sessionspeaker-listing.

Some argue that conferences are a waste of time and resources and that you can do the same thing electronically.  I disagree, for many reasons.  There is something special about people coming together to discuss any particular topic.  Being able to sit across the table and look someone in the eye is an important quality that we overlook a lot of times.  I know I trust people more when I’ve met them in person than I do when I haven’t.

In years past (at REAL World events and the Colorado Summit ’09) I’ve found that the time in-between sessions is, in many ways, more valuable than the sessions themselves.  Developers that are business competitors discuss what they do to find clients.  They discuss the realities of being a business owner.  They discuss things face-to-face that they’d never do electronically.  Of course everyone gets something different out of conferences but I’ve found them invaluable as a RB consultant.

It’s also a place where work can be found.  I’ve not been to a conference where there wasn’t someone looking for a REALbasic developer.  Since there is no higher concentration of RB developers than at these conferences it’s an excellent way to find developers and find work.  Plus, you never know when another developer might have a lead and they’re too busy to work on so networking with other developers is always a good idea.

REAL Studio is made in REALbasic and it’s awesome that RS ‘eats its own dog food’ but we, as users, don’t necessarily have the same needs.  Many of todays biggest features have been discussed (ad nauseum it seems) at past conferences before they were implemented so don’t underestimate the power of cornering discussing things with an RS engineer.

I’m excited about this conference and I can’t wait to see you there.  See you in Atlanta in March!

ARBP Chat Transcript Available

After some technical difficulties with the chat room last night the chat with Geoff Perlman, President and CEO of REAL Software, went rather well I think.  At one time we had 20 people in the chat room and even though we didn’t have moderation on, everyone was polite and there were very few interruptions.

Interviews like this are always interesting.  I don’t think we learned anything particularly new, but it was nice to get some hints about what’s on their minds:

We learned that the upcoming reporting component in REALbasic will most likely not have an end user editing component.  RS isn’t opposed to someone writing one, though.

64 bit compatibility is on their list and all of the Cocoa work is 64 bit ready.  Framework issues are the biggest issue with 64 bit.

Look for some new Studio Edition only features for release 5.  Will be part of the Release 4 beta testing.

Many people are asking about being able to make iPhone applications using REALbasic.  Cocoa support is a prerequisite and then ARM processor compiling.  Geoff also said there’s not as many requests for Palm, Android, or Windows Mobile.  (No one asked if Apple had given permission to pursue this cause or not!)

For the full transcript, please go to:

http://www.arbpmembers.org/index.php?option=com_resource&controller=article&article=126&category_id=3&Itemid=26

What are your thoughts of the chat with Geoff?

ARBP Chat With Geoff Perlman Tonight 9PM EST

Just a reminder that tonight the Association of REALbasic Professionals (ARBP) will be hosting a moderated chat with REAL Software CEO Geoff Perlman.  He will take part in a moderated chat starting at 9PM EST on the Association of REALbasic Professionals www.arbpmembers.org website.

To gain access to the chat room you’ll have to register with the site (it’s free!).

Re: Changes at REAL Software

DON’T PANIC

No truer words have never been spoken.  Sure, it’s never fun to learn that two highly respected professionals have been let go from a company.  It especially hurts a smaller company like REAL Software.  However, the world isn’t going to end.

Like any business, RS employs people to make money for the owners and shareholders, if any (RS is a privately held company).  Publicly RS said that last year was one of their best ever so I must surmise that sales have not been as robust this year.

During normal slow times it’s not uncommon for businesses to take short term loans to make payroll.  In the current economy it wouldn’t surprise me that a lot of companies are seeing a slowdown in sales and a rise in expenses.  Add into the credit crunch, I’m sure more than a few companies have had issues with payroll.


Nowhere in RS’ announcement did they say that they were having problems making payroll.  I’m simply illustrating how this problem isn’t unique to RS.


What they DID say was that they have other staff members that will pick up the work that Aaron and Nathan were doing.  With the compiler humming along (mostly) with Aaron’s and Mars’ hard work over the years we should all feel pretty good about it.  A majority of the near-term work needed in RB is in the frameworks (Cocoa anyone?) and in the IDE.  So it doesn’t surprise me that the compiler person was let go.


Aaron is a great guy and someone that I consider to be a friend and colleague.  I have no doubt that he’ll land on his feat and be successful in whatever he does.  I hope that he remains a part of the RB community for many years to come.


What will be hard to replace is his experience and knowledge.  I have no doubt that the remaining staff at RS can handle any compiler issues that come up but will they be done as quickly and efficiently that Aaron could have handled them?  Probably not.


The other thing that I will miss greatly is his Ramblings blog.  Even though it was HIS blog and not an official RS blog, it still gave us a window into the mind of REAL Software and some of the thoughts that went into any particular decision or direction.


I recommend that REAL Software strongly encourage their engineers to blog.  It gives us mere mortal users an insight to what’s going on.  It lets us feel like we know there are rational and intelligent decisions being made.


I applaud REAL Software for telling us what was happening rather than waiting for users to discover it on our own.
Finally, Nathan and Aaron, thank you for your hard work.  I look forward to seeing where you land.