REAL Studio Developer March/April 2011 Issue

REAL Studio Developer Issue 9.3 (March/April 2011) came out this week.  My column topic in this issue was the risks and rewards of being a consultant.

I don’t think being a REALbasic developer is any different than any other consultant.  There are times when you’re so flush with work you can’t sleep and there’s times you’re looking for work.  There’s always the ‘next project’ on the horizon.

Cash flow is just one of the many risks of being a consultant.  The rewards though, are nice when they happen.

Did I leave anything out in the column?  Something I should have talked about?

Last Week For Early Adopter Pricing For Atlanta Summit

Quick update on the ARBP and REAL Software Atlanta Summit.  This is the last week to get the early adopter pricing.  Purchase seats before February 1 to get the reduced price of $350.  After that it’s the full price of $450.  ARBP paid memberships get a reduced rate (check the discounts pages for coupon codes).

As of this morning, we have confirmed attendees coming from Europe and Australia and, of course, from all over the United States.  This is an excellent opportunity to talk REALbasic with others that know REALbasic.  This is THE place to find REALbasic developers for your Macintosh, Linux, Windows and Web projects and also a good place, as a developer, to find some work.  Certainly this conference is a good way to network with the REALbasic community.

Geoff Perlmann and Thom McGrath from REAL Software are presenting several sessions which should be a lot of fun.  They’ll be presenting about the new Web Edition and upcoming features.  If I was a betting person I would bet that REAL Software will show off something very different at the conference (don’t ask because I don’t know what it is).

So there you go.  What are you waiting for?  Come join us for what promises to be a very fun time.  Get your geek-on!

More information on the conference can be found at http://arbpmembers.org/real-studio-summit-2011.  Complete session list is at http://arbpmembers.org/real-studio-summit-2011/sessionspeaker-listing.

RB Developer Column: Face Time

The January/February 2011 edition of REAL Studio Developer magazine is out.  My regular column talks about the value of ‘face time’ and how, despite all of the electronic means available to us, of communicating with one another, sitting across the table with another person is a very powerful thing.

Sadly, we (BKS) meet very few of our clients face-to-face.  Those that we do have become more than just clients – they’re colleagues, partners, and sometimes even friends.

Personally, I think this is why I’m so excited about the REAL Studio conference coming up in March in Atlanta.  It’s a lot of work to put on a conference and do a presentation.  But past conferences have shown that I always come home very happy and jazzed about the things that I’ve learned and people I’ve met.  Exhausted?  Definitely!  But well worth it.
What about you?

Omega Bundle 2011

If you are a REAL Studio developer, you might want to check this out.  The Omega Bundle for REAL Studio developers is now available and is a very attractively priced bundle of 10 REAL Studio development tools for only $399 which is 80% off their regular price.

The bundle includes:

  • Formatted Text Control
  • Elastic Window
  • Mask-R-Aid
  • RB Code Reports
  • REAL Studio Developer Magazine
  • Aspen Icon Set
  • Valentina Office Server Unlimited
  • Franklin 3D Game Engine
  • The complete Monkeybread Software plugin set
  • Valentina ADK

I can tell you that there are more than a few items on this list that I already own and use on a regular basis.  I can’t tell you how happy this makes me to see this sort of bundle available to RB developers.
More information can be found at http://www.omegabundle.com

Failure is Always an Option

The September/October 2010 edition of REALbasic Developer came out this week.  Marc Zeedar has additional information about the REAL Studio Web Edition and includes some details that I didn’t cover in my Web Edition blog post.

JC has an article on Trapping For Errors which is a good read.  Coincidentally, in my regular column I talk about how having a program fail can be instructive and how ‘failure is always an option’.

More information on REALbasic Developer Magazine can be found here.

In almost all of my applications I have an automated bug reporter class that allows the user to send me the Runtime Error type, the Error Stack and (hopefully) a brief description from the user on what they were doing.  It lives only in the App.UnhandledException event and nowhere else.  It’s far from perfect, but it’s better than nothing.

What do you have in your RB apps to get that crucial error information?

July/August 2010 REALbasic Developer Magazine

The July/August 2010 edition of REALbasic Developer Magazine is out.  This months column title is “Having a Thick Skin: Take the Emotion out of Your Tech Support”.

I talk about the pitfalls of providing tech support when people asking for (or is it demanding!) for tech support aren’t nice.  Email and forums posts are awful mediums for communicating to each other so you have to take the emotion out of the equation.

Do you have any horror stories, tips, or jokes about tech support you’d like to share?

REALbasic Developer Magazine May/June 2010

REALbasic Developer Magazine’s May/June 2010 edition is now out.  A couple of things of note:

1)  They reviewed the BKeeney Software REALbasic training videos.  It received a rating of 4.9 out of 5 cubes!  As a celebration, we’re offering subscriptions for 20% off list price.  Use the coupon code RBDEVELOPER.  This discount is valid for the next two weeks.

2)  In my regular column I talk about the role of consultant and the jobs you probably should turn down.  Sometimes the client has unreasonable expectations and if they can’t accept REALbasic’s limitations then REALbasic isn’t for them and their project.  Accepting a project like that is just asking for trouble.

3)  Christian Schmitz, of Monkeybread Software fame, gives us some food for thought with an article on how to figure your hourly rate.  All good points.

[Updated 04May2010 16:23] Added link to get to the videos.

REALbasic on iPhone Debate

The March/April 2010 edition of REALbasic Developer Magazine hit my inbox this morning.  Besides the normal BKeeney Briefs column Marc Zeedar and I have a spirited debate on whether or not REAL Software should devote existing resources to making REAL Studio work with iPhone apps.

Note the italics on ‘existing’.  While I think it would be a nifty idea, overall, I question the wisdom of diverting resources from an already small development team to a product that might be doable.  Is this a Mac OS X only product or is it cross-platform?  I seriously doubt that it will be cross-platform but perhaps I’m wrong.  The point is that there are a ton of issues to figure out and then the question then becomes, “What are we going to give up in the desktop versions while this is being developed?”

Other thoughts:  Apple makes a boatload of money from developers buying Mac hardware and this product has the potential to take that revenue away.  One could certainly argue that it has the potential to sell more iPhones/iPads/iPod touches because more applications will be available.  But Apple has 140,000-ish apps right now.  Would 10,000 more, or 100,000 more really mean anything to Apple?

It also has the potential of being a potential support issue for Apple.  Assume for a second they allow RS to make iPhone apps.  The RB framework has a bug (because that’s never happened), or Apple changes the SDK one day and doesn’t give RS advance notice (Apple is secretive, no?), and now tens of thousands of RB iPhone apps no longer work.  Will the developer, RS or Apple get the blame?  Apple.  Just like how Microsoft gets the blame for crappy drivers and crappy 3rd party apps made by bad developers, Apple would get the blame.  Apple guards the keys to their kingdom very closely because they want it to be associated with a classy, premium product that “just works”.

Anyway, you can read the debate between Marc and myself in the magazine.  My guess is you can figure out my viewpoint.   😛  Marc argues, the opposite.

My regular column talks about making your projects more Agile-ish without going full-bore in using the Agile process.  It’s not as hard as you think and your clients might really like it.

Your thoughts?

Finding Work for REALbasic

It seems appropriate during this week of Thanksgiving to give a big thank you to all the readers.  So a big, hearty, “Thank You!” for asking questions and providing some interesting feedback.

Whenever I start talking to REALbasic developers, I get asked, a lot, about finding REALbasic consulting work.  It’s not hard finding work, but it is not always easy finding good projects.

The difference?  One issue that comes up is that because it’s real and it’s basic means REALbasic it must be easy-to-use (read that as cheap), right?  Wrong!  Making a good quality REALbasic application requires some perseverance and some experience.  I can guarantee that the RB apps I make these days are way better than my early RB apps.  Experience counts in software development just like in any other profession.

Good projects aren’t always available.  Maybe you have to do an ugly project for next to nothing to hold you over until a bigger, better project comes along.  With consulting it really is a ‘what is the next project?’ world.

So where do you find work?  The first thing you have to do is set up shop.  Does your website say anything about REALbasic consulting and/or development?  It should because that’s the first way people are going to find you.  You should also have a previous projects page that talks about the work you’ve done.  Sometimes you can’t talk about a project in a lot of detail due to non-disclosure agreements, but you can talk generically about the type of work you’ve done.

In a recent ARBP survey word of mouth and their website were the two highest percentages, by far, of any of the topics.

Do you self promote yourself in the RB Forums and the NUG list?  If not, you might be missing out on some work.  By answering some questions on the forums and NUG (for free) you can get some free exposure and people get to know your name.  Do you think it’s a coincidence that regular columnists/writers for RB Developer magazine are mostly consultants?

Are you listed in the ARBP consultants list?  You should be.  It costs nothing other than signing up for their limited membership (i.e. free).

Finally, the REAL Software Consulting Referrals Program is a great way of getting leads.  People who think they want a REALbasic developer to contact them fill out a web form and you get an email.  It’s then up to you follow up on the lead.  It is somewhat pricey at $1000/year but one good project and will pay for itself.

In fact, I would call the program a bargain.  In 2008 REAL Software changed the program and nearly doubled the price to be part of the program.  I criticized them at the time and still think it was a bit heavy-handed but the quality of the leads has gone up and so has the frequency of leads.  I contact most of the leads twice.  First when I first get the lead and in a couple of weeks afterward.  Most of the time they tell me they only have one or two replies to their original post so this says to me that there are not a whole lot of people in the program.

Look folks, if they’re filling out a form asking for REALbasic work they’ve already sold themselves on using REALbasic.  You don’t have to sell the merits of RB – they’ve self-selected themselves!  It’s like shooting fish in a barrel from a sales perspective.

Do you talk about what you do?  You should because you never know who you’re talking to.  I went to an NFL training camp this summer and while having a drink at a bar where the players sometimes hang out I had a great conversation with someone that happened to work in software industry.  While it hasn’t resulted in any work – yet – it might in the future and isn’t that what marketing is all about?

So that’s it.  There’s no secret to finding REALbasic work.  Have a great Thanksgiving and happy coding!