I said back in December that I’d write a review of REAL Studio 2010 Release 5 when 5.1 was released. Well, that didn’t quite happen as I expected. For one thing, the 5.1 release didn’t happen until January and now we’ve discovered more information about the main component of R5 – Web Edition and its deployment problems..
2010 Release 5 and the subsequent 5.1 release (released in 2011 – how does that work?) were mainly about Web Edition. I did a significant portion of a big web app project using Web Edition and to put it bluntly, there are many bugs, holes and significant issues with all aspects of Web Edition and I can’t really recommend it for production apps right now. There are still significant issues with browser compatibility that need to be ironed out as well.
Deployment of standalone web apps seems to be okay, but installation of FastCGI applications was hit and miss (mostly miss) on commercial web hosts. Since it was pretty much a black box installation it either worked or it didn’t and neither RS nor the web hosts were able to help much in diagnosing the problem. And now we’ve been told that FastCGI isn’t all that RS hoped it would be and a new middleware application needs to be on the server so it can run as a CGI application. This is disheartening to everyone that put in significant time trying to figure out deployment issues (including me).
Obviously, despite all of the problems in the first release of Web Edition, my client does have a working web app on his website (sorry, can’t share the URL). To me this truly does indicate how powerful the RS web framework is and with a little more thorough testing and polish it should be a nice addition to my toolset. I see much promise in Web Edition. It makes the creation of web applications very easy.
Most of the skills you’ve spent years developing for desktop applications can be transferred to Web Edition with very little learning curve. It’s those little things you’ve come to expect in desktop edition that will make you feel exasperated. WebPage constructors don’t work as you would expect and sometimes subclassing WebDialogs will cause them to just not work and the Application.UnhandledException doesn’t catch exceptions and doesn’t let you keep your web app running. All of these, by the way, have been marked as fixed in 2011 R1 already so RS is being very responsive to the major issues.
The other significant part of Release 5 was Cocoa. Many things were fixed and much of it is now working. Of course the first project I tried in Cocoa failed miserably due to a graphics issue but that appears to already be fixed (after I submitted a feedback report with a reproducible example project). So despite all the fixes it’s still a work in progress.
RS really needs as many people using Cocoa as possible to find those hidden or quirky problems. Always remember that RS doesn’t always use their own product like we do: so creating feedback reports with example projects is the best way to help them.
A very promising note, though, is that the Feedback application that is available to beta testers is now Cocoa. In my usage it’s pretty solid – but not quite perfect. But it is built using an alpha build of Studio 2011 R1. So it’s close.
So if you missed out on R5/5.1 you probably didn’t miss out on much unless you were specifically looking for Web Edition and Cocoa. The march to Cocoa continues and it’s getting better (really!). Web Edition shows a lot of promise and WILL get better (it has to) and hopefully the deployment issues go away in 2011 R1 which will hopefully go into beta testing soon.