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.