REALbasic Alternatives

Every three months or so, usually after a new REALbasic release, the forum will inevitably have an “RB Sucks Because of <<insert some bug or missing feature here>>” thread. The poster will be outraged that the engineers have allowed this bug to occur and berate the beta testers for not having caught it in beta.

What ensues in the thread usually boils down to this by follow-up posters:
Every three months or so, usually after a new REALbasic release, the forum will inevitably have an “RB Sucks Because of <<insert some bug or missing feature here>>” thread. The poster will be outraged that the engineers have allowed this bug to occur and berate the beta testers for not having caught it in beta.

What ensues in the thread usually boils down to this by follow-up posters:
  • You’re absolutely right, the bug sucks, and we should all be voting with our dollars somewhere else to teach RS a lesson.
  • A few helpful work around’s.
  • If you don’t like RB, find something else.

Let’s explore that third for a bit because I think it’s a worthwhile topic. You think RB sucks so bad you need to look for something else. That’s pretty serious stuff. I’ll be honest that I’ve thought that a time or two. Here are my requirements:
  1. Creates Cross-platform executables (Windows, Mac OS X and some Linux)
  2. Works with a nice selection of databases
  3. Extensible through classes, libraries or plugins
  4. Is a modern object oriented language

Requirement 1: Cross Platform, Macintosh OS X (Intel, PPC and Universal Binary), Windows, and Linux Applications. The requirement is that the IDE and language must be able to create double-clickable executables for each platform.
Requirement 1
*One could argue that Java doesn’t really make a native application since it runs on top of the Java Virtual Machine.

Requirement 2: Works with a Nice Selection of Databases. Can our application work with a bunch of different databases? ODBC is okay, but not ideal because of speed issues.
Requirement 2
*RB has some limitations due to GPL on what plugin you can use.

Requirement 3: Extensible through classes, libraries, native API calls or plugins.
This is another tough one to quantify. Without using each one extensively I think it would take a while to determine what is missing from the native package.
Requirement 3


Requirement 4: Uses a modern object oriented language. I want a language that has gives me all the advantages that a modern object oriented development environment can give me. Things that are important are automatic garbage collection and pointers. I also want to be able to create inheritable classes and have interfaces.
Requirement 4


Other Thoughts
Java: Java seems fairly straightforward and is certainly not as convoluted as C++ can get. I’ve played around a little with NetBeans and like what I’ve seen. However, don’t tell me that it’s ‘easy’ to get a nice Mac OS X looking application up and running. Unless you can show me a Java that I can’t tell is Java just by looking at the UI, I’m going to call this a no go.

Runtime Revolution: I hope someone from the company reads this: Your website is so full of dead links that it makes me think you’re not doing very well and/or don’t care. I can’t say I’m enamored by the scripting language or the idea of stacks. If you liked HyperCard then this might be a good alternative.

REALbasic: I’m an RB developer and make a living off of it. It’s very likely that I can’t write a purely objective review of REALbasic alternatives.

FileMaker and 4D: I initially included these two in my evaluations and I always came back to the conclusion that they’re really for databases that need a minor application front end. They do what they do really well, but they do NOT make true applications.

Conclusion

In my very brief research of the two alternatives I can say that none of them give me the simplicity, power, extensibility and RAD abilities of REALbasic. Runtime Revolution would be the only alternative that would be worth taking a look at it, though I have to be honest, the scripting language turns me off and so does the lack of attention to detail on their website. If you sell your development platform mainly through the web then you’d better make sure your links are valid.

So the next time I hear people complain about REALbasic, I’ll have to ask them what their alternative is. In my opinion, RB is the only development environment that fits my requirements.

What alternatives do you have to REALbasic? What alternatives have I missed?