REALbasic 2008 Release 5

The big new feature in release 5 is a revamped AutoComplete.  If you use NameSpaces then you’ll definitely find this a welcome change.  It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a damn site better than the previous 2008 releases.

Another new feature is Build Steps scripts.  Meh, I can’t say much, but I thought what they had in the alpha builds was better even if it did need some UI enhancements.  The Build Step scripts are useful but doesn’t it seem… silly?… to put IDE scripts in a specifically named folder right next to the project file?  Seems to me that something could have been integrated into the IDE to have this work better or at least make it easier on the user.

The rest of release 5 is bug fixes and presumably some work to prepare for the 2009 series (Cocoa support anyone?).  Bug fixes are nice and from my own personal list they’ve fixed a half dozen or so.

The complete list of changes can be found here in the release notes. It’s an impressive list and if you’ve been holding up on upgrading to REALbasic I recommend you take a look to see if your pet bug has been addressed.  That’s the good news.

Now the bad news.  This release doesn’t have the ‘spit and polish’ finish that Release 3 and 4 had on it.  I’ve already logged 4 or 5 bugs mostly nuisance bugs but there was one IDE assertion error.  It’s all about the little things that make a release feel polished.  Here is a partial list of the things I’ve reported.

•    Auto Completion will sometimes duplicate objects.
•    Auto Completion does not work with namespace objects in an array.
•    The Go To contextual menu item still doesn’t work with namespaced objects.
•    Funny drawing occurs at the very bottom of the IDE window.
•    Trying to change the super of an already subclassed window won’t always work and can sometimes result in an assertion error.

Perhaps the biggest change is the one that Aaron reported in his blog comments about the compiler no longer being threaded.  This change is to fix a Windows compiling glitch, but I think Aaron’s use of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” is telling.  Take Aaron’s comments with a grain of salt since he’s a former employee of RS so I would expect some bitterness, but his analysis is probably pretty close to the mark.  The change doesn’t fix anything, it simply penalizes everyone equally.

This isn’t to say that REALbasic 2008 R5 isn’t good enough for use – it is!  Just expect some things not to be quite right.  If anything it seems that RS is back to their normal habits.  Stay tuned…2009 should be a bumpy ride!

What are your thoughts?  Is R5 solid and good enough for everyday use?