REAL Studio Web Edition Excites Me

REAL Software is going to release a new product called REAL Studio Web Edition in a couple of weeks.  Essentially, it lets you create web apps with the same ease as creating a Mac, Windows, or Linux desktop applications (if you’re not familiar with REAL Studio it’s very, very easy).  This a really big deal even if calling it “Web 3.0” is a little premature, in my opinion.

Regardless of the marketing terminology, after spending some time this week working with a beta of REAL Studio Web Edition, I think I can fully jump on board the band wagon.  I have several reasons for doing so.

First, it really is that easy to use.  Instead of creating a desktop application you create a web application.  The editors are mostly the same.  The controls are similar to their desktop counterparts.  The frameworks, for the most part, are the same ones you’d use in the desktop apps.  All the knowledge I’ve gained creating desktop apps for myself and clients over the years isn’t going to waste and can be reused quickly.  No need to learn a new language, IDE, and framework.

My second reason is purely selfish and it involves George Washington and Abe Lincoln.  A lot of them, in fact.  I’m a consultant and when I first heard about Web Edition I was relatively impressed, but wasn’t sure about it.  When existing clients started asking me about it and when I started fielding inquiries from potential clients I got real excited.  The bottom line is that if I can sell more consulting time I make more money.  Period.  Do I really need to explain more?

Add in that I can now offer web apps using the same developer using the same development environment with only minor changes makes REAL Studio that much more attractive to potential clients.  I don’t have to hire a web developer or sub-contract the web portion out.

Now, with all that said, there are still a lot of questions to answer.  We don’t know, yet, what the drawbacks are.  It looks like a number of controls will be fairly basic to begin with – I wouldn’t expect less from a 1.0 product.  Browsers are notoriously fickle beasts.  What browsers will work 100% of the time and which ones will have issues?  It’s still too early to tell, but if I was a betting person I’d bet that Safari, FireFox, and Chrome will be pretty solid.  Internet Explorer 7 and above will mostly work but anything earlier will suck big time have issues.

The other issue we yet to have any definitive answers yet is installation on a web server.  Will FastCGI work and will it work on shared web hosts?  How good/bad is performance on a shared server?  How well will it scale with a limited number of users versus hundreds or thousands of simultaneous users?  How well will Web Edition apps handle security attacks like SQL injection attacks?  How well will it work with mobile browsers?

The potential for a huge hit is there.  If it proves to be a solid product and gets people excited about using it, it will create a buzz not only for REAL Software but consultants like me that are already familiar with the product.

8 thoughts on “REAL Studio Web Edition Excites Me

  1. I am also extraordinarily excited about the product.

    I started a project from scratch: two hours later, I had a rudimentary but fully functioning web app that allowed users to interact with a backend Postgresql database from Firefox, Chrome, and Safari and an iOS device.

    I barely had to use the docs.

  2. Hi Bob.

    As far as Internet Explorer is concerned, we are only supporting v7 and above. Regarding scalability, all web apps reach a point where one must run multiple instances of the app and do some kind of load balancing when you have thousands of simultaneous users and I don’t think WE will be any different in this regard. Still, our tests show that a single instance can handle several hundred simultaneous users. Regarding SQL injection attacks, as long as you use the new database parameter binding feature we have added, the backend database engine will take responsibility for checking values for SQL and returning an error if they contain SQL. So the burden for avoiding SQL injection attacks is mostly on the backend database.

    I think there’s HUGE potential for consultants like yourself. By making web application development faster and easier, there will be a lot of projects that suddenly become practical and that’s going to mean money for consultants. It’s great for in-house developers as well. But what will also be interesting will be to see if commercial products come out of Web Edition. With traditional tools selling a web app means selling your source code. Not so with Web Edition. Lastly, there’s the security aspect. If someone hacks into a server, they can easily hack a traditional web app because the app is just a bunch of source files on a server. Not so with a Web Edition app. The hacker would have to be comfortable with x86 assembly and have a lot of time on their hands. More likely, they would move on to an easier target.

  3. While my preference is for native apps on the iPhone, I know that this will come in time after the Cocoa compilation and libraries are completed. Seeing Web Edition’s apps running on an iPhone, though, is a wonderful intermediate step that will give REAL Software an important foot in the door for mobile devices immediately in addition to easier web programming. I also own LiveCode (I bought it to develop self-paced tutorials, but my priorities are elsewhere now) — LiveCode is supporting web and the iPhone now, but Web Edition’s apps provide a much better user interface and even in beta Web Edition is far ahead of what LiveCode does.

  4. I’m sure that full time developers will find this useful but for those that don’t program full time the idea of using prior knowledge and applying it to the web has immense appeal. Don’t forget about the little guys. In that I mean that we need more “hand holding” documentation.

  5. The Web Edition looks promising and I had fun playing with it. But I see a restrictions regarding styles. The main purpose of CSS is to separate the look from the content. If you are using external CSS files, you can make any change you like by just editing and upload a small file. You don’t need to stop the whole application/server. With Web edition, It seems that you have to have to make the changes within the IDE, compile it, then stop the old web app which means stop the web server if you’re using Fast CGI, replace it which means upload it in most cases (we’re talking about MBytes, not few KBytes ), and then restart the web server.
    Also, if you want to display content and doesn’t know how long it will be, there is no way AFAIK ( but I may be wrong here ) to resize a control according to the size it will need on screen so you can avoid the use of scroll bar.

  6. Eric, for some people, especially those that are quite comfortable with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, etc., this will certainly be a limitation and perhaps one they can’t live with. However, they really are not the target audience for Web Edition. The target audience are people that are who don’t want to learn all that and can give up some control. I think the fact that CSS files are just sitting on the server (along with HTML and JavaScript files) has lead many web developers to make changes on the fly as you are suggesting. When I showed Web Edition to two web developer early on, they said the same thing though they were talking about JavaScript. When I asked them if making changes like that had ever got them into trouble, they smiled at each other, admitting that it had. Of course they could have tested things on a test server and when they knew their changes were well tested, updated the appropriate files on the live server. But knowing that they can just tweak the files on the server makes it very tempting to do so.

    With Web Edition you don’t have a choice. You are building a binary application so you have to swap out the whole thing. But these applications are not huge. I mean, how long would it take to swap out a 10 meg application?

    You can resize controls at runtime. However, the goal of Web Edition is to create desktop-like applications. The goal at this point is NOT to create web sites.

  7. Well, depending on your location around the globe, uploading a 10 meg file can be quite a challenge. It may takes a quarter hour after after 2 or 3 failed attempts that, according to murphy’s law ;-), stopped around 100 KB before the end with no obvious reason.
    I understand that Web Edition is more dedicated to web application, and it will be a great tool for that purpose. We already have an intranet project where it may be helpful to develop the back-end site with it. I’m looking forward to seeing how it will evolve in the next year and may be help us for the front-end…

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