What a !$&# Week

It’s not been a great week – even though it’s been a short week.  I’ve now seen two separate bugs that are HUGE and affecting me for Windows.  In REAL Studio Release 3.1 there is memory leak in the Timer Class and in the StaticText class.  The end result is that my app, in Windows, will eventually chew up all available memory and bog the entire machine down to the point of being unusable.

Not good at any time, but this mean that both 3 and 3.1 are not usable for me, at least for Windows builds.  R 3 has some issues and a memory leak as well.  Thankfully, the leak is not as bad. I would go back to R 2.1 but since *that* release also has a nasty Windows bug I can’t go back to it.  Dare I go back to R 2?

Initial indications are that RS will not be issuing an interim 3.2 release, however.  This is why I think their Rapid Release Model stinks.  I’ve got two bugs that keep me from using the latest and greatest release and now have to wait to get a fix.

Your plan runs out in the next 60 days or so?  Sorry.  You’re S.O.L.  It might be great for RS but the Rapid Release Model is becoming the Rapid Bug Model for me.  Pretty soon, it’s going to start costing me clients.


A couple people have asked me what I think about Apple changing their stance on letting 3rd party development tools for developing iOS apps and what that means for REAL Software.  Meh.

Really, there are so many items RS has to get done before thinking about iOS that it’s not even a concern right now.  The only thing that would concern me is if they decided to jump both feet first and devote a lot of resources to it.  Cocoa has taken way longer than anyone ever dreamed of (I feel that personnel changes have bit them hard on that one) and now the highly anticipated Web Edition will distract them too.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to the Web Edition.  I think being able to leverage all my RB knowledge for iOS apps is a great idea too.  But, as they say in Missouri, “Show Me!” – I’ll get excited when I see them and can work with them and keep my business in the black.

15 thoughts on “What a !$&# Week

  1. So, what’s the “nasty Windows bug” in 2010r2.1? Although there are plenty of issues, I wasn’t aware of any “nasty” ones. I’m using 2.1 on a daily basis.

  2. RS has to do what it can to increase its user base and income. Yes, the personnel changes have hurt them (especially losing Mars and Aaron), but with a larger user base, they could hire again. Even with the smaller staff, by having at least a partial common code base for the desktop and web editions, fixing a bug in one could yield bug fixes in the other (likewise for improvements).

    I still suspect that RealSQLdatabase was a misstep in that the resources used for it could have been used more productively but, as McCoy would say, “Dammit, I’m a doctor, not a CEO”, so I could be missing something.

    I’m hoping that the Web edition and the completion of the Cocoa target helps RS’s bottom line and puts them back on track — continuing to fix bugs, adding features that take greater advantage of currently-unused platform frameworks instead of needing to use declares as much, and (my own pet peeve) adding more language constructs and programming tools such as built-in unit testing, QA/code review tools, expanded refactoring, and (this would be nice) creating skeleton code for common design patterns.

  3. By the way, despite the allure of an iOS target, it’s not a top priority now. Cocoa support is crucial to the long-term viability of RB on Mac OS X due to the deprecation of Carbon. iPhones can be targeted for now with Web apps, as can other phones. An iOS target will come in time. While Runtime Revolution is also targeting the Web and iPhone, Revolution’s language is much more verbose and, in my opinion, Revolution is suited for much different projects than RB (such as educational interactive software, as was HyperCard).

  4. Scott Steinman :
    RS has to do what it can to increase its user base and income.

    It’s a very well known fact that it’s easier and way way cheaper to increase income by selling more to existing clients that it is to obtain new clients.
    “Increasing it’s user base” is also required but that would be way easier to achieve by me ‘singing the praises” of RS”.
    Since I first purchased in 2007, didn’t renew until 2010, and at this point will probably never renew again my only ‘singing’ would be along the lines of “Brilliant product, Great Potential, not ready yet”.
    Why? Because I won’t use it yet!
    The continuing existence of long term bugs, some you can workaround, others you can’t, all seem to have a lower priority than the latest ‘Feature’. A feature that will be almost guaranteed not to work properly and will only add to to the ever expanding bug list.
    Yes, I read the release notes, yes, they do fix bugs every release, big deal, every release brings MORE bugs than were fixed.

    I have enough trouble trying to ensure that my programs contain no bugs and work properly without having to worry about what the new RS version will break.

    Web Version?
    Brilliant! that would be just so so good, if anyone could achieve this it’d be RS.
    Oh, wait a minute, it’ll probably share a large part of the Studio code base, bugs’n’all.
    I might wait a few years before I get excited about it. Either bugs in Studio will get fixed quicker or both versions will wait because some other ‘new shiny toy’ has come along.

    I don’t share Bob’s opinion on iOS, I think it’ll skyrocket up the priority list, further delaying fixes to Studio, anything that ‘has’ to get done to introduce iOS will get done, but little else.
    Cause… you know… “new features” sell products and aren’t we great we can now support iOS.

    If your core product isn’t ‘perfect’, or as close as humanly possible, why on earth would any sane person believe that anything ‘new’ will be even close?.

    Did you notice that I’ve actually purchased and renewed once? Without any return!
    If Studio actually did well what RS say’s it can I’d pay a lot more, every year, than the paltry current price. I don’t beleive I’m alone in this attitude, if only 5% of users felt this way what would that do to RS’s income?

    I am extremely glad that I don’t have the huge investment in knowledge and code that Bob has.
    If someone like him can make comments like the above then;
    A/- The racket of the alarm bells ringing at RealSoftware should be deafening.
    B/- My already very low confidence in and hope for RS has taken what will probably turn out to be a death blow.

    Sorry Bob for ranting on in your blog, but geez, RS is sooo close to living up to it’s potential.

  5. @Denis
    AFAIK Mac users represent about 50% of REAL’s current business.
    REAL needed to add support for Cocoa, they didn’t have a choice in that, unless they wished to allow this part of their business to wither away.
    However it seems that this was a more extensive task than had been anticipated and perhaps took away from work in other areas.
    From what I’ve read REAL is a pretty well run business. They’ve dealt with the cocoa nightmare, kept the windows and Linux cars on the road (even if the passengers are uncomfortable) AND announced a new product for web applications.
    It’s a pretty impressive record.
    A well run business will only invest in one of their products if there is a likely return.
    If the web and, later on, the smartphone platforms, do really well then that doesn’t necessarily mean more money will be available to invest in the desktop platforms.
    In the long run all target platforms will have to stand on their own feet.
    More than anything what gives me hope for the desktop platforms is the move to LLVM as the backend compiler.
    REAL is committed to this and one effect will be to reduce REAL’s ongoing future workload in supporting each platform.
    At that stage if REAL maintain the current level of investment in, say, the windows platform, then we can automatically expect an improvement in the product in addition to the optimisations that LLVM will provide for free (leaner, faster executables).
    A rosy forecast but to mangle 2 well known sayings, the best laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry because of events dear boy, events

  6. @jjb
    No they don’t have a choice with Cocoa, it’s 3? years late as it is and absolutely required to retain a large percentage of existing clients.
    LLVM? probably too close to being finished and too beneficial for the ongoing development of Real whatever to stop now.

    The new Web version? The soon to be iOS support? Both will get priority over all else.

    “In the long run all target platforms will have to stand on their own feet.”
    I bought RS because it was supposedly ‘Write Once compile for Mac/Windows/Linux.’
    That would indicate that all 3 are ‘THE’ target platform.

    The very argument that you’re using to justify Cocoa proves that my whole attitude is correct.
    If I was a ‘happy’ existing client and someone asked me for a iPhone app/Web page I wouldn’t even think about it, I’d hit the RS website and purchase whatever, secure in the knowledge that all RS products work well.
    At this point if I won’t even renew my RS subscription so what do you think the chances are of me purchasing anything else?

    It’s very hard in forums like this but if you knew me at all you wouldn’t tell me about what a ‘well run business’ would do, been there, done that, more than once.
    Me an old guy 😉
    At the time that RS recently offered a 2yrs subscription for the price of one? I wondered why, they obviously needed to raise capital, but what for?
    Either the business is in trouble and needs cash quick or they wanted to fund something..
    I don’t think RS is in any sort of financial trouble so must be fund something. Web Version?

    So they traded future income from product x for cash now to fund y product in the hope that y is finished on time and generates enough new income to cover the lost future income of product x.
    If the development time of product y blows out, or the product isn’t as well received as you hoped then you run a very real risk of killing the whole company.
    Ummm, that’s a gamble, not a sign of a ‘Well Run company’.

    If their CORE product was as perfect as a bunch of humans could make it they’d have so much cash they could fund a trip to the moon if they wanted.

    What I fear is going to happen is that RS will have a whole range of sorta finished, mostly sorta works okay products. That would just be a slow and painful death for company.

    I REALLY hope that last bit is wrong, I think Geoff Perlman is a genius and all the innovative and brilliant work that he and the RS staff have done shouldn’t end like that.

  7. I feel your pain Bob. My RB history is 5.5.5 -> RB2007r4 and now on RB2009r5.1 for my main projects. I’ve ditched my Enterprise license and tried every 2010 release to see if they are worth the time and money to migrate to but always with some hard stop in every release or too much stuff to migrate (and test and verify).
    Rapid Release was a good idea but as the quality is so poor you are stuck with a byggy release. RS should change the licensing to not be yearly but rather “releasly”…

  8. Well, I have actually 6 REALbasic releases here in use.
    We still need RB 5.5 to batch export projects to XML. Something you can’t do with newer projects.
    For most project and our plugin examples I use REALbasic 2009r2 as it’s quite a good release and before the textarea/textfield switch. Our example should be back compatible, so we need to stay with editfields.
    We have a couple of projects we started with REAL Studio 2010r1, r2, r3. For trying new Web Edition, I use r4.
    The pain is that I need to relaunch REAL Studio 20 times a day. Each time I switch from one project to another, I’ll look with my quicklook plugin what version the project uses and launch the right version.

  9. @Denis
    I apologise if it sounded like I was trying to tell you how a well run business works, that certainly wasn’t my intention, actually I don’t think I’d be the best guy to tell anyone that!
    I found your post very stimulating and was just giving my 2 (euro) cent in response.
    Since REAL is a private company and we are all in the dark to a large extent something has to fill the vacuum 🙂

  10. jjb :

    Jeez jjb, no need for an apology…
    Now I feel like I have to apologise for makng you feel like you have to apologise… we could go in circles here for a long time… 🙂
    I never take anything in forums/mailing lists personally and I was only trying, obviously badly, to let you know that I know what a “well run business does”, at least in my experience.
    I rewrote that sentence a few times because I’m well aware of my partners opinion that I have “all the social graces of a rock”.
    Still didn’t get it right… 🙂

  11. Wow. Didn’t expect this much traffic because of my rant. 😉

    It’s very frustrating for me, sometimes, because RS focuses so much on beginner/hobbyists developers. It’s *a* market but it’s not the market that *I’m* in. For the work that I do, I need rock solid releases and when I find bug that bites me particularly hard it makes my business look bad. Keep in mind that I’ve been a REALbasic consultant for over eight years so I know a thing or two and have made some money at it.

    The memory leak in R3.1 is particularly rough on a current project because it has many timers and regularly updates a lot of StaticText elements. This is the only app I’ve worked on in a long time that requires long up-times. Otherwise, this wouldn’t really be a major problem since most apps have a rather short run period and this memory leak wouldn’t be so bad.

    One thing that kind of disturbs me a little the huge focus that RS has on Apple technologies. They *have* to go to Cocoa to remain viable for Mac desktop apps – I get that. Do they *have* to go LLVM or implement any of the other things to support iOS (eventually)? No, not in my opinion. It seems more of a choice.

    The nice thing about the Web Edition is that it doesn’t really affect anything current in REAL Studio. It has a completely new framework, editors and so on so it doesn’t bork anything I use right now. The move to supporting iOS eventually affects EVERYTHING I currently use so I have some big concerns about it.

    I would agree that REAL Server was not a great product in terms of sales. I seriously doubt that it ever paid for its own development. Perhaps using SQLite was not the best database foundation for a multi-user database, but that debate can be held at a different point. With recent personnel changes I wouldn’t expect major changes in it any time soon.

    Bottom line is that if I become dissatisfied enough in the product I’ll move on. But until then, I will work with RS, both publicly and privately, for better and more solid releases.

  12. Well, I would prefer if RS fixes the server. Maybe by moving back to an older code base from 2008 and adding a few of the new features, but not the ones which made the trouble. Having an easy to deploy and administrate server is important for us.
    For the compiler move Bob, I think that was a reaction on Mars going away. At some point RS may have seen that writing their own compiler can be expensive. So with LLVM they benefit directly from improvements made by Apple and others. the only need to create their own front end as well as a Win32 linker. So all the optimization Mars told about comes for free.

  13. @Bob Keeney
    Coming as it does right in the middle of the huge ‘bugs or new features’ thread in the mailing list?
    Well, now that you know ‘your mere words’ can spark a huge debate you might be more careful with them in future… 😉

    I hope not,
    your ‘call it as you see it’ style is great.

    Was the 2010r2.1 bug you mentioned ever fixed?
    I looked in the all the Release Notes and Feedback and couldn’t find anything I thought was it.

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