The Plugins/Libraries We Use

We do a lot of projects every year.  Every project is different but we have a core set of third party controls and plugins we use on a regular basis.  Here’s our list.

Monkeybread Software  http://www.monkeybreadsoftware.de/realbasic/

I know a lot of people complain about the Monkeybread plugins but we find them to be most useful.  Time is money and chances are good that if there’s a system declare you might need they’ve already done it.  Plus, they are very responsive to bugs and changes to Real Studio.  They’ve been very proactive in developing Cocoa compatible plugins.

The Chart Director plugin is a wonderful charting tool.  It has a ton of features and is very fast.  We’ve used it on a number of projects now and we’ve been very happy with it.

Automatic Updater Kit:  This set of classes and utilities is must have for Mac and Windows apps.  On Mac OS X it uses Sparkle to do automatic app updates and on Windows you can set it to use an installer file.  We’ve automated this (using IDE scripts) to the point where we only need to run one command line function to finish everything (and that only because we haven’t automated the Inno Setup process yet).  We recently modified the code to do some data file updating as well.

Einhugur  http://www.einhugur.com/index.html

We use much of this suite as well.  Real Studio does not ship with Date and Time or Calendar controls.  The Einhugur set comes with nice versions of those as well as a wicked fast TreeView and StyleGrid controls.  They have a number of other libraries and controls that are very useful including their E-CryptIt plugin that offers many encryption, encoding and hashing techniques.  Einhugur has also been very proactive in developing Cocoa compatible plugins.

Formatted Text Control  http://www.truenorthsoftware.com/formattedtextcontrol/

If your app needs true RTF file support or need inline graphics then this is a must have tool for you.  This is a set of pure RB classes (unencrypted) so you can dig into the guts and make your own modifications (or fix a bug or two as we’ve done over the years).  This is good code to learn from as well.  They recently added masking which is a nice replacement for the crappy masking that Real Studio provides with the TextField control.

RSReport  http://www.rothsoft.ch/realbasic/rsreport/

If you need anything other than basic (and I mean REALLY basic) reporting the built-in reporting tool isn’t all that impressive.  We’ve moved almost everything over to RSReport.  It’s great because you control everything.  It’s awful because you control everything.  Reports take a little longer to design and get running but the drop-in report viewer and the export to PDF capabilities more than make up for it.  They do have a Report Designer component but I’ve never gotten it to work well in my own projects so I’ve not used it.  Their lack of support is a little disconcerting but so far I’ve been happy with it to take the risk.

eSellerate  http://www.esellerate.net/

We use the eSellerate plugin for our own products.  It handles licensing and registration and though they take a cut off the purchase they’ve been fairly proactive in updating their service over the years.  Their RB plugin has NOT been updated for Cocoa so we really have no idea what we’ll use if they don’t update it.

What are you using a lot that’s not in our list?

Formatted Text Control Version 2

As a consultant I use the best tools available to me and my clients.  One of those tools is the Formatted Text Control (FTC) from True North Software.  Today they announced version 2 of their excellent text editor control.

FTC is one of those controls that I find indispensable and use a lot because of its power and flexibility.  Because it’s done in 100% unencrypted REALbasic code you have complete control over how you use it.  Need to do something that it doesn’t do?  You can do it yourself if you have the patience for implementing your own changes.

FTC is big and powerful.  It has around a hundred classes that let you implement a full-featured word-processor with very little work (literally drag and drop and maybe add ten lines of code).  With a little bit of elbow-grease it’s very easy to create your own reports via code (perhaps I’ll write a little tutorial on that one of these days).

If you’re interested in learning how a control can be implemented in REALbasic using just a canvas this is excellent code to learn from.  FTC does class inheritance well, is optimized, and the code is easy to follow.

Brendan Murphy, the creator of FTC, is very responsive to bug reports and feature requests.  We’ve been users since the early days of development so you’ll see the BKeeney name in a few places in source code from bug reports and feature requests.  It’s rare to see somebody share the credit so readily.

Version 2 has a number of welcome new features and enhancements.  The first is that the alignment of the display when it’s in Page display mode.  Before it was always flush left, but now you can center and right justify it.  It’s a minor thing, but very high on my own wish list.

New search and replace functionality was added.  You can do it either programmatically or interactively.  There is also a new Replace All function.

You can now scroll to the selection which, as the name suggests, scrolls the display to the current selection (and presumably the insertion point).

A new KeyPress event was added that allows you to have more control over what characters can be inserted to the control.  Since this is an event in the TextField and TextArea controls this is a welcome addition.

A new subclass was created from the FTC.  The FTTextField is a replacement for the RB TextField control and has all of the advantages of the FTC.  This means that the FTTextField can do spell-checking, undo, and the ability to read/write true Rich Text Format (RTF) files where as the RB TextArea is fairly limited in what it can do with RTF (no graphics).

Also new in the FTTextField is the ability to limit the number of characters in the control and the ability to use masks.  Given that the RB mask property in the TextField is bad (perhaps sucks is a better word) this by itself might be worth the purchase price.

The cost of the version 2 of the FTC is $150.  A demo and more information about  version 2 is available at http://www.truenorthsoftware.com/formattedtextcontrol/