It’s been a busy couple of weeks around BKeeney Software world headquarters. Besides our normal (read: hectic) Real Studio consulting work we recently acquired the Formatted Text Control (and various and associated Real Studio projects and products) from True North Software.
There has been some speculation on the reasons why True North Software sold their Real Studio assets and on why we purchased them. I will attempt to briefly summarize what I know and offer some commentary.
Brendan Murphy, owner of True North Software, told me that the company is moving in a new direction with consumer software. This doesn’t necessarily preclude using Real Studio, but since he’s focusing exclusively on the Mac App Store he has no need for cross-platform support and therefore Real Studio is not fitting his needs. xCode might be harder to learn but it has more Cocoa goodies for now and the foreseeable future. Developer products just don’t fit into his future business model.
I am speculating that the apps that True North Software has released on the Mac App Store are more profitable then developing and maintaining Real Studio controls. At the end of the day a business needs to have adequate cash flow and income to survive.
People ask me why there aren’t more third party products for Real Studio and there is no one answer but I’ll give several explanations. The first is that the Real Studio market isn’t as big as .NET or Java or even xCode. This alone, I feel, prevents many developers from attempting to get into the market as there are only so many people that could buy your product.
The second half of that equation is that even if you do get it to market there is a strong resistance to buying any third party products. Seriously, go to the forums and you’ll see people bemoaning the fact that Real Studio is missing some (what they consider) key elements and yet they don’t want to purchase plugins or other third party code. Those are two very big negatives for getting into the market.
The next issue is that Real Software, in my opinion, is not very friendly to third party developers. You can’t add anything to enhance the IDE except IDE scripts. Fine, but then they’re not exceptionally friendly to plugin developers for a variety of reasons. The biggest one is poor documentation on how to create plugins and certainly no guidelines on how to create native cross-platform controls. The IDE doesn’t manage plugins very well (either in a folder or not when Real Studio is started) and there is absolutely no version control on the plugins. Projects don’t track which plugins they require so if you’re missing a plugin hopefully you can figure it out. There is also no way to register and validate third party classes and controls so it’s up to each developer to implement a serial number system. I don’t know for sure but I suspect that piracy is fairly common in the Real Studio world.
Real Software does throw third party developers a small bone by offering to sell their products in the Real Software web store. The exposure is nice and it does make it easier for larger corporations to buy products (only 1 purchase order/invoice to get past supervisors) but the percentage take by Real Software for each sale is large. I’m not allowed to tell you how much – it’s in the contract. Let’s just say look at my product prices on the Real Software web store and look at them on my own webstore. But, I digress.
So the incentive was there for True North to exit the Real Studio developer market. And that’s how we came into the picture. We’ve used the Formatted Text Control since before the first official release. I can’t tell you how many commercial consulting projects we’ve used it in and we’ve been into the bowels of the source code offering code back to True North as we came across bugs and when we changed things to make our projects work better for our clients.
We are primarily a Real Studio consulting company and we obviously do more than just consulting. We recently released our Calendar Control classes for Real Studio that gives developers a nice full-featured calendar like iCal (now Calendar in Mountain Lion) and Outlook. Formatted Text Control and the Spell Check Utilities plugin fit in nicely in our new Real Studio Developer products category.
If nothing else, we will continue to enhance Formatted Text Control to meet our needs in ongoing and future projects. Our ideas alone could propel us to several new versions. We look forward to adding more documentation, example projects, tutorials, videos and the like in the upcoming weeks and months. If you have features you’d like to see, please feel free to send them to us!
Anyway, I hope that clears up a few things. It probably creates a few more questions so ask away!