Plugin Management in Real Studio

We tend to have a lot of plugins installed at any given time. We have the full compliment of Einhugur, most of the Monkeybread (MBS) and a handful of others. However, not all projects need that full complement of plugins and the startup time of Real Studio suffers accordingly even on state of the art iMacs with 8 GB of RAM using SSD drives.

We tend to run 2 or 3 versions of Real Studio at a time because not all projects are on the most current IDE nor on the most up to date plugins. This can mean that we have the possibility of mixing plugin versions across our development staff.

Not every version of Real Studio can run all versions of the plugins. You’ll find this to be true in the 2012 R1 release as RS has changed the plugin API so some plugins may not work and cause the IDE to report errors (I believe there’s a workaround but I can’t find the email that contains that info).

The Real Studio IDE does not contain any information on plugin versions. Einhugur plugins contain some version information (which you can see in the Help -> Plugin References menu in you have any Einhugur plugins installed) but otherwise you’re on your own. I have my own person plugin archive that’s separated out by plugin vendor, plugin, and then by version. After talking with my developers we discovered that we all do it this way.

Is there a better way of managing this mess? One of the projects we purchased from True North Software is RBVersioner which holds some promise in helping manage plugins. I spent a few days working with it discovering how it works and I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t do anything for me. And since I’d like to think I’m an average RB user perhaps others would have similar thoughts. Which, of course, made me hesitate to spend a whole lot more time working on it.

So the question I have for you, my Real Studio friends, is do you think plugin management is an issue with Real Studio? In your ideal world (other than the IDE doing the management), what would your perfect utility for plugin management do?

I would love to see a utility where I can create a project ‘set’ and point it to a version of Real Studio (i.e. 2012 R1, 2011 R4.3, 2010 R5.1, etc) and it would be able to pull the plugin versions I’ve selected for that project. I’d love to be able to save any relevant information about any given plugins (min/max versions of Real Studio, targets supported or not supported, dependency information, vendor, release date, etc) and just tell the utility to install the correct plugin set and restart the correct version of Real Studio and automagically open the associated project. I’d also like a report generated for the set that contains Vendor, plugin name and version number so I can give that to my client when I hand project source code over to them. I’m not asking for much, no?

The first question that came to mind after I wrote down all of these ideas was this a solution really in search of a problem? After all I’ve been doing full-time Real Studio development for over ten years and somehow I’ve managed to get manual plugin management to work so far.

Is plugin management a problem for you? Would you spend $10 on a utility to make this easier?